How to set up and run a small business

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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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Do you wish everyone in your business talked with one voice? There are plenty of corporate cliches for this – being on the same page, singing from the same hymn sheet – but it all boils down to one thing: having a strong company identity that everyone shares.

When you launch a business, you probably aren’t thinking about a brand, culture or values. However, by the time your growing start-up has reached the point where you employ more than a handful of people, it may be time to establish key words and values that ensure unity and continuity. Continue…

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Latest figures from the Government have shown that 131 million working days are lost to sickness absence very year in the UK, and over 1 million workers had sickness absences greater than one month.

The cost to employers, and to the country, in lost productivity, is considerable. Therefore, steps are now being taken to reduce longer term sickness absences by between 20% and 40% annually.

With the recent introduction of the ‘Fit for Work’ scheme, the Government is attempting to cut the cost of sick days, but how does the scheme work, and how can employers use it to lower the number of staff absences in their business? Continue…

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Running your own business can be challenging and often a test of your patience. When workloads mount and your calendar begins to clutter, feeling stressed may can be inevitable.

The Health and Safety Executive says that stress currently affects one in five of the UK’s working population and is costing businesses more than one billion pounds annually as a result of stress-related absences and a drop in productivity.

To minimise the impact stress has on your life and career, here are five top tips to help you and your employees avoid burnout and ensure that you remain in control of your business and your health; Continue…

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Disability in the workplace is a very contentious issue, and something that we certainly wouldn’t be able to definitively cover here.

However, what we can do is to help you as an employer to understand how to behave with care and attention – so as to avoid getting into any grief when it comes to dealing with any disability in your business.

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I used to think I used a coaching style with the teams I led. Then I went on a coaching course to learn a little bit more. Imagine how disappointed I was when I found out that I hadn’t been coaching at all!

It turned out that all I had been doing was being vaguely encouraging while I told them what to do and how do it. And I was so busy because I always needed to know everything they were doing, so I would always know what to tell them to do.

I discovered that getting people to do things my way, no matter how nice I was while I was doing it, was nothing like coaching.
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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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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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How to attract and retain the best employees

June 11, 2014

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 […]

Increasing your personal efficiency – how to get more done in less time

April 16, 2014

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 […]

How to build a culture of innovation in your business

March 24, 2014

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 […]

Relaxing for success – how to use Edison’s proven technique to solve problems and become more innovative

March 17, 2014

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 […]

How to get your “brand” and “talent” right – tips to building brand strength AND employee engagement in your business

February 24, 2014

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 […]

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.

Succession planning – tips for business owners

August 16, 2012

Family-run businesses account for almost a quarter of the UK’s GDP, and provide over 9 million jobs, however many of them could be in danger due to inadequately planning to pass on businesses to future generations.

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.