How to set up and run a small business

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Tips on the patent processStarting your own business isn’t plain sailing. It throws lots of new challenges at us, each with their good, bad and ugly dimensions. And registering a patent is no different.

A lot of inventors with incredible ideas have fallen along the wayside, simply because they didn’t invest the time needed to successfully navigate the patent system.

Make a mistake at this point and you could end up doing all the hard work only for someone else to exploit later down the line. So if you want to protect your business idea or invention, you need to take the patent process seriously. Continue…

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Tips to succeed with exporting to AsiaUK exports to Asia are now worth 18% of the UK export market – that’s £98.6 billion. China is now the eighth largest export market for the UK – with India and Singapore being among the UK’s largest trading partners in the commonwealth.

Trading to Asia offers an entirely new world of possibility for UK businesses to export their products and to build a global brand – and with Brexit fast approaching and the future of British trading unclear, exporting to Asia is becoming increasingly popular. Continue…

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Challenges new businesses face when hiring staffHiring the right people is vital for the growth of your company. It is likely to go some way in contributing to the development of the business and helping it to become successful.

The task of recruitment varies across different industries depending on their nature. For example, recruitment in hospitality is seasonal and finding the right people can be difficult.

Moreover, recruitment can be even harder for startups, so here we take a look at some of the main challenges facing startups when it comes to looking for people to join their team. Continue…

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Nowadays, everybody knows that social networks play a significant role in the promotion of a company.

That’s why having an engaged and active community on Facebook can make all the difference to your business.

But if you don’t know what you’re doing, building Facebook friends can take a lot of time and effort. So to help you to quickly build your Facebook fans, here are 5 simple steps you should take. Continue…

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Employee performance reviewsAs a business owner, it’s likely that you struggle to find time to do the performance appraisals for your team.

You are not the only one.

Surveys have indicated that owners and managers hate doing performance reviews and as many as 58% think it is a waste of time. Continue…

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the employee records employers should keep

The GDPR gives people more control over their personal information and requires organisations to clarify exactly where Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is stored – and how it is used.

Less well-documented than data protection regulations, but no less important, are data retention regulations. To outline what your legal obligations are when it comes to keeping business records, we asked Paul Ravey of Access Records Management to explain.

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cyber safety tips and advice for small businessAccording to the latest Zurich SME Risk Index, almost one in six UK SMEs have fallen victim to cyber attacks in the past year, costing a fifth of victims over £10,000 and 1 in 10 over £50,000.

It’s clear no SME should gamble when it comes to cyber security, especially with the new GDPR regulation in force. Delaying action will put your business, your employees and your customers at risk.

It may seem like a challenging task but as Adam Louca, Chief Technologist – Security at Softcat explains, there are simple and affordable ways small businesses can strengthen their cyber defences.

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employed, self employed and workerIt would be fair to say that employment status has been a contentious issue in recent times as business owners and staff in various sectors dispute the true nature of their respective working arrangements.

As a business owner it is important that you are familiar with the differences between the three main categories of employment (employee, worker and self-employed) as this will help determine the rights of the individual and the obligations you have towards them. Continue…

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helping not selling

Technology is constantly advancing and with technological advancement comes change. If you want your business to stay competitive, then you must be prepared to embrace technological changes.

You may think that you understand the current sales market, however, the sales game is changing, and these changes are coming about thanks to technology.

If you want to achieve sales success it is no longer about selling, but about helping. Continue…

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how to get free publicity in local newspapers and media outletsGetting coverage in your local press may not have the kudos of being featured in national newspapers but it often delivers a better return on investment, especially to locally-based businesses.

For small businesses, local newspapers are a more realistic target for press coverage than the national press. Readers of local papers want to read about local news, stories and events so if you can help a journalist deliver this, then you are well on the way to getting valuable press coverage for your business.

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GDPR Fact or Myth?The juggernaut that is GDPR has now come into force. We’ve known about this radical new change in privacy and data protection law for over two years and on 25th May it became law across the EU.

The past two years have allowed plenty of time for numerous myths to bubble up about the impact of the new rules on UK businesses. But which are the GDPR myths and which are GDPR facts? Continue…

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Using Google My Business to get customersTo generate new leads in today’s online world, your business needs to be optimised for search engines – in particular Google.

Most small businesses know this and invest good time and money in their online strategy.

The challenge lies in achieving sustained search success and business map listings are a key part of this. Here’s how to achieve this with Google My Business. Continue…

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workplace stressThis year, Mental Health Awareness Week (14 – 20 May) is shining a spotlight on stress.

With one in six adults experiencing depression, anxiety or issues relating to stress at any one time, it’s important for smaller employers to recognise the signs that their team may be under too much stress.

Here, Jaan Madan of Mental Health First Aid England, highlights five ways small businesses can address workplace stress.

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stressed female employee

1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health issue at some point in our lives and the UK Government is taking this statistic seriously, recommending all companies with more than 500 employees should provide tailored mental health support for their staff.

But what about smaller businesses? With millions of small businesses in the UK, making sure these businesses are equipped to support the mental and physical wellbeing of their staff is essential for keeping the majority of the working population healthy. Continue…

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Retaining and rewarding key staff with EMI share optionsFor many companies, staff retention is a key issue. Giving employees a slice of the business can foster a sense of ownership and can be a key element in retaining and rewarding them.

One of the most widely used methods of achieving this is the use of Enterprise Management Incentive (“EMI”) Share Option Schemes. EMI Share Options are significantly more generous than ordinary share options from a tax perspective so can help you attract and incentivise key staff, in a very tax-effective manner. We asked John Leyden FCA, to explain how.

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Inbound marketing is an essential tool for any online business. By creating and distributing useful content, the aim is to attract potential customers to your products and services.

Ultimately the purpose of inbound marketing is to create sales. So, here we examine ways that you can hone your inbound marketing tactics to engage with more prospects and move them along the path to purchase.

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What small employers need to know about GDPRRecent research has suggested that 39% of SMEs haven’t spent any time planning or preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) over the last year.

With the clock ticking down rapidly to May 25 when the rules come into force, if you’re one of the small businesses that haven’t planned for GDPR, you need to prepare for its consequences right now.

The GDPR marks the start of a radical new data protection landscape, with significant penalties if your business doesn’t comply, so here are 9 key points small employers need to watch out for. Continue…

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Pros and cons of email marketing and direct mailTechnology has enabled us to communicate faster than ever. In the digital age, email tops the list of many people’s favoured way of communication, mainly because it’s faster than letters – or even phone calls.

So, in a world where communication is dominated by instant messaging, email and social media, is there still a place in the marketing mix for direct mail?

As David Manton explains, direct mail may be slower, but it still has a lot to offer businesses. Continue…

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alternatives to main broadband suppliersFor small businesses broadband is an essential requirement and yet for many people it’s hard to get the level of service they want from their supplier.

Why is this and what steps can you take to get the quality of broadband you need to run your business successfully?

We asked telecoms expert, Dave Millett to explain what alternative options you have if your business can’t get the broadband service you want from one of the main suppliers.
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statutory payments and minimum wage changes April 2018The beginning of April has likely been a hectic time for many employers, with usual accounting and financial deadlines sandwiched in between important updates to employment law rates and payments.

Here, we outline the increases in the National Minimum Wage, National Living Wage and other statutory payments, all business owners need to abide by from April 2018. Continue…

Why small businesses should embrace GDPR and be ready for May 25

April 12, 2018

Data is vital for many businesses looking to take their productivity and profitability to the next level. Yet according to our research, 56% of UK small businesses have concerns about their current data collection processes. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set to become law in May 2018, every UK business needs to ensure […]

5 Cybersecurity quick-wins for startups

April 9, 2018

You don’t need to be a multi-national enterprise to be an enticing target for cyber criminals. Half of small business owners experience at least one type of cyber-attack over a one-year period, research from Nationwide’s Small Business Indicator survey revealed. The reality is poor cyber security awareness and a lack of dedicated IT professionals make […]

10 Data Science terms every business leader needs to know

April 4, 2018

There is a lot of talk about data science, big data, AI, and IoT these days, but what is the reality behind the hype? What do these terms actually mean, and what impact could these have on your business? Let’s take a look at 10 of the highest profile tech terms affecting businesses in 2018;

How to improve your email deliverability

March 27, 2018

Email marketing is an essential tool for small businesses and large enterprises alike. The ability to communicate directly with your target audiences helps attract new prospects and keeps existing customers informed. However, delivering a good email campaign that hits all the right notes is not as simple as you might think. It’s a complex discipline […]

How to improve your company culture to attract, and keep, the best employees

March 20, 2018

Improving company culture is at the top of the agenda for most modern day businesses, as more employers are coming to appreciate the role it plays in attracting prospective employees. However it is not as simple as placing a ping-pong table in the staff room; a company culture needs to be fostered over time. To […]

How to help more of your employees to stay in the company pension scheme

March 16, 2018

Workplace pensions are a legal requirement for all UK businesses no matter how small. Since 2012 more than 8 million people have been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension by their employer. With auto enrolment contribution levels set to rise on 6 April 2018, it’s more important than ever that small businesses improve pension awareness […]

How technology can help businesses make the leap from start-up to scale-up

March 14, 2018

Britain’s entrepreneurial nature is highlighted by the fact that a new business is founded every hour. But only a small portion of these start-ups will make the leap to become a growing business that enjoys success at scale. For the best chance of becoming a successful scale-up, small businesses need the right people, systems and […]

How to use Google Analytics to boost your online performance

March 13, 2018

There are a million things to think about when you start a small business. Your website alone is a field of rabbit holes – content, structure, design, SEO, social media integration – down any one of which you might lose yourself for days if you don’t know what you’re doing. One area that small business […]

A Practical guide to Content Marketing for small business owners and start-ups

March 9, 2018

When you are looking for ways to promote your new start-up or small business you will, without doubt, soon hear the words, “content marketing”. There’s a lot of buzz about content marketing at the moment, but what does it actually mean and how can small business owners use content to help grow their business? This […]

How work experience can boost the bottom line for SMEs

March 8, 2018

This week (5-9 March) marks National Careers Week, it highlights the importance of good careers education and support for young people leaving education. The week brings together schools, colleges and universities with employers to showcase best practice in careers guidance. Work experience can help kickstart a career for young people, but it also offers many […]

How to balance your digital and print marketing

March 6, 2018

Now that the panic-provoking headlines of “print is dead” have toned down to “well, not quite”, it’s safe to say that we all know there is value in both print and digital marketing. The question that businesses are now asking themselves, is how exactly do we work out how to divide our budgets between print […]

What can small employers do to improve gender equality in the workplace?

February 27, 2018

The issue of gender equality in the workplace has garnered much publicity in recent months and is one of the biggest issues facing employers in 2018. Most of the media attention has surrounded information on Gender Pay Gap Reporting (GPGR) which forces companies with 250+ employees to publish a report detailing aspects of staff pay […]

13 Questions you must ask to get the best deal on business telecoms, and why you should never buy just on price

February 26, 2018

Everyone wants to get the best deal on their telecoms – but buying just on price, is unlikely to give you a great return. Not all telecoms solutions are the same; so, it’s important to ask the right questions to ensure you are comparing like for like. To help you get the best deal on […]

Legal implications of copyright infringement

February 22, 2018

Copyright infringement can be defined in numerous ways, some of which include piracy, theft and freebooting. Legally, the term is used when an individual uses any works protected by copyright law, without permission, which then leads to the infringement of any exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder.

The Pros & Cons of Microsoft Office 365

February 21, 2018

For any small business, the decision to switch to a cloud-based system where all pieces of data can be stored online is one that’s worth deliberating. Platforms such as Microsoft Office 365 have many benefits, but they might not always be suitable for every business. To help you decide whether or not it’s a system […]

Why the customer relationship should now be TOP priority for any business

February 19, 2018

In the past, company leaders were focused first and foremost on the development of innovative products and operational excellence. Today, customer satisfaction is the absolute number one priority – a point confirmed by almost every recent survey of top managers, with 89% of company leaders now seeing customer experience as their biggest differentiator. Here, customer […]