How to set up and run a small business

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It’s absolutely vital for a small business to maintain a good reputation. It can be the making or breaking of your company after all. Unlike bigger businesses that seem to shrug off really embarrassing moments and carry on, smaller businesses can find it impossible to recover from a tarnished reputation.

So managing how you and your employees represent your business on social media is crucial.

Many may just use it to interact with family and friends, but some – in the very rarest of cases – can use it to abuse, or say inappropriate things. And what if this is seen by your customers? Or they say something about work? Would you know how to handle it?
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Instances of anxiety and depression in the workplace have become much more common in recent years; it’s a matter of record. For example, the number of mental health related absences in the NHS last year showed a two-fold increase since 2010, and on average in the UK 23 days are lost for each case of stress, depression or anxiety.

Whilst these statistics may not exactly represent the state of mental health in your business, it’s worth thinking about. Not least because mental health issues affect more people in the UK than you might think, about four in ten adults having experienced anxiety about their work in 2014.

So, as an employer, what should you do if one of your employees encounters mental health issues? If they’re work-related especially, what is expected of a business?
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Taking on your first employee should be an exciting time. It means your business idea is working and you need help to expand. But while employees will help your business grow, they will also bring new stresses you may not have encountered before.

When you are employing new staff, there are all sorts of costs that you must take into account. Plus the way your business runs with just you and any business partner, may not continue to be appropriate when employees are on board.

This guide will help you identify the true costs of an employee, and build a plan to manage the impact on your business. Continue…

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If you are taking on a new employee, you need to be aware of a whole range of issues. With staff come a range of responsibilities that you, as an employer, are required to fulfil.

Taking on the first employee in your small business is something you should take real care doing. What many employers don’t realise is that small errors in an employee’s early days can cost them thousands of pounds.

To help you successfully hire your first member of staff, here are 4 key things that you must get right.
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Giving your customer a great experience is not just about customer service. It goes far deeper than that. It’s also essential if you want to increase your sales and make your marketing budget go further.

The reason people don’t want to do business with organisations that aren’t customer focused is because it’s so difficult to do business with them! As a start-up or small business the last thing you want to do is make life difficult for your customers!

This is why it is important to understand that delivering great customer experiences is about the WHOLE customer journey.

From website design, product design, and marketing to finance, operations, HR, procedures and policies. You name it, and it should be linked to delivering a WOW customer experience.
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When it comes to the subject of employee wellbeing, it is very easy for employers to push it to the bottom of the agenda, or shrug it off as a waste of valuable time.

But with many firms now taking staff wellbeing seriously, and beginning to recognise the benefits of a focus on ‘mindfulness’, this guide explains what business owners and leaders need to know about mindfulness in the workplace and highlights the benefits in can bring to modern businesses.
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If you could have lunch with any businessman or woman in the world, (alive or dead), to discuss your commercial/professional situation, whom would you choose – and why?

Chances are that you’d choose someone you admire or are intrigued by, perhaps because of their achievements, their values or their reputation/personal brand.

Most of us recognise the need to learn from the life experience and wisdom of others. We also aspire to accelerate the pace towards our own success, or at least smooth a few of the bumps in the road. A business mentor can be an invaluable asset to enable us to identify relevant principles of success and adapt them for our own situations and use.

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One of the beautiful things about running a small business is that it’s so much easier to motivate your staff.

As the leader of a small team, you will have the opportunity to get to know exactly why each employee is working for you – and use that knowledge to press the right buttons and positively influence productivity.

Managers of large companies can’t do that, especially when their hands are tied by daft schemes “sent from head office”. You can therefore use the advantages of a well-motivated team to sharpen your business’s performance against your bigger rivals.
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With 2015 fast approaching, an important year in the political calendar, employers are sure to be turning their mind to preparing for any changes set to come in over the next few months.

It’s clear, if last year is anything to go by, employment law will not remain the same for very long and so there are a number of changes that businesses can expect in 2015. Continue…

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As a small business owner you may not have lots of money sloshing around. You know your staff are your most important asset, but you may not be able to afford to give them a pay rise.

So how can you be an attractive company to work for, motivate and reward staff and promote loyalty without increasing your pay bill?

Believe it or not, introducing employee benefits may be the answer. There is a range of benefits which won’t be a cost to your company and will actually provide savings by reducing your tax liability. These are known as salary sacrifice schemes.
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As a small business owner, it is likely that you will have had at least a couple of employees call in sick this winter and with the cold weather expected to last a while longer, sick leave may become a HR issue that you deal with well into Spring.
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It’s all too easy to get to the end of a project and feel completely exhausted. Sapped of all energy and enthusiasm we can miss what’s really important.

To overcome this, change leader, Ian Coyne reveals a new approach to project management which will help you to manage projects and hit deadlines without grinding yourself into the ground.
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Whether it’s in a business situation or home environment, procrastination is a true monster that takes away confidence and ultimately undermines self-worth. It also saps vital energy, stifling you and your business.

Every time you delay something, you add imaginary weight onto your shoulders while the item joins the long queue of “to do” items: a burden of a promise you need to fulfil.

Over time this burden grows and grows and your self-worth shrinks in its shadow. You drag along a big suitcase of things you can’t seem to get around to doing, but which you want to, or think you need to, get done soon.
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In June 2014, flexible working requests became a universal right. Anyone with 26 weeks of continuous employment can now ask to work flexibly for any reason.

The repercussions for small businesses, in which each employee may be vital to day-to-day operations, could be significant. Continue…

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How do you define leadership? There are thousands of books, resources, classes and experts, together forming what might be described as a leadership industry. So it’s not surprising that leadership definitions abound.

Most definitions of leadership are likely to combine a number of words or ideas, such as: vision; belief; action; motivation; inspiration; intuition; or charisma. But how many would use the words legacy or loyalty?

Thinking about leadership in these terms implies an upside-down interpretation of what it means to lead.
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There are a few certainties in life; death, taxes and skills shortages. However you’ll notice that some companies suffer more than others when it comes to hiring and keeping great employees.

So, how can you be one of the smug employers that attracts and retains great people when everyone else is struggling? And how can you keep the down costs of recruiting staff?
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Whether you are starting a business for the first time or have run your business for years, every business owner knows that the demand on their time is one of the hardest things to manage.

With time being so precious, you need to make every minute matter. So how can you be at your most efficient each day? What efficient or inefficient routines have you grown accustomed to in your everyday life?

Improving personal efficiency is not about forcing yourself into a daily regiment of torture, it is about creating awareness of what you want and discovering a few natural steps that lean more in the direction of where you want to go.
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Culture is the intangible glue that binds us. It shapes attitudes and behaviours. It generates tone and identity. And, it is the lens through which we make-meaning of the world around us, and our place as an organisation within it.

Building a culture of innovation in your business brings many benefits, including helping to give you a competitive advantage and making it easier to recruit new talent. Continue…

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Running a business means you always have plenty of problems to overcome and issues to deal with. It’s part of the fun of being in business, but when you’re busy it can be hard to be creative and to find innovative solutions.

Your brain is always coming up with solutions to problems and providing a constant stream of innovative ideas.  But if you aren’t tuned in and ready to receive them as they bubble up from the depths of your subconscious and surface in your conscious – they will quickly disappear again? If you need solutions, it is vital that you’re in the right state of mind to receive them.

When trying to be more creative, there is a technique called “dunking” you can try. It’s an approach inspired by the brilliant engineer Thomas Edison whose inventions truly changed the world.
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Most organisations and their leaders acknowledge that their reputation – establishing it, defending it, building it – is critical to their success in today’s always-on, connected and often very transparent world.

Reputation is really created by two things: what you say and what you do. This is heavily influenced by your approaches to brand management (what you stand for, what you promise, the products and services you provide) and talent management (the people who design, manage, and deliver the products and services you provide).
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How to break out of your comfort zone

September 12, 2013

When you are starting a new business, you will constantly need to learn new skills and tackle lots of issues that you’ve never dealt with before. It’s fair to say that as a small business owner you will spend the majority of your time well outside of your comfort zone, so to be successful you’ll […]

How small businesses can hire staff without fear

May 17, 2013

Unless human resources is your line of work, you almost certainly didn’t go into business to devote your time to HR. In this article, David Webb, from work expert Acas, explains how small firms can hire without fear

What is a written statement of employment?

April 16, 2013

If you decide to recruit your first employee for your small business, one of your legal obligations is to present all staff members with a written statement of employment particulars.

How to avoid the employment tribunal

October 11, 2011

How can employers avoid an Employment Tribunal? The simplest advice, of course, is to ensure that all of your employees are happy and contented and never have any complaints they would want to take to a Tribunal. However, in the real world even the best employers can not achieve this all the time.

How to handle disciplinary issues in the workplace

October 11, 2011

David Aldridge, Adviser, Business Link Berkshire looks at how to handle disciplinary issues in the workplace.

Guide to redundancy for small companies

October 11, 2011

The Office for National Statistics showed GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth at zero per cent between April and June 2008. As a recession is defined as two or more consecutive quarters of negative GDP, and taking into account the current economic climate and the unemployment jump in August 2008 it is evident we are facing […]

Why communication is important during the redundancy process

October 11, 2011

Peter Vreede of Redundancy Assist provides advice about successful redundancy transitions.

What to do when employees go bad

October 11, 2011

As you grow your business you will eventually need to rely on other people to execute the work while you focus on sales and running the business. This also means that sooner or later you will have a difficult employee to deal with.

Employing staff from overseas – a legal guide

October 11, 2011

This article provides guidance for employers on what they need to check before employing staff from overseas. It will also briefly outline the new points-based immigration system the Government will start introducing from March 2008 to manage the flow of overseas workers to the UK.

Your responsibilities when you hire staff

October 11, 2011

No matter how successful your business has been with just you working in it, sooner or later you may want to take on an employee.