How to set up and run a small business

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In years gone by, equality and diversity haven’t always been at the forefront of business owners’ minds. However, in recent years more and more business leaders are recognising that respecting equality and diversity make good business sense.

So, what makes equality and diversity increasingly vital when you are setting up and running a business? We asked entrepreneur and author, Jackie Arnold to explain; Continue…

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Having to carry out difficult conversations is an inevitable consequence of owning a business and being an employer. When most business owners start employing staff they often haven’t thought of the reality of becoming an employer and having to tackle workplace issues as they arise.

Employers often don’t have the confidence to successfully carry out difficult conversations but avoiding these, and leaving issues to fester, is likely to negatively impact the business and, whilst this may be avoided in a larger business, a lack of productivity, capability or incidents of misconduct can have a serious effect on the business as a whole.

As a small business employer, you can avoid this outcome by being prepared, and facing difficult conversations with confidence in your ability to come to a positive solution. Here’s how; Continue…

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Workplace diversity is a term which relates to the people who work for an organisation. It is often spoken about with reference to equal opportunities, and the two are intrinsically linked, but have varying perspectives.

Providing equal opportunities means ensuring that no individual is treated less favourably on the basis of who they are – that all decisions taken in relation to them are based on fact and merit alone.

So what are the benefits of workplace diversity to a small business and how can you achieve it? This guide provides you with the necessary advice. Continue…

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An effective incentive scheme is an important way for small businesses to motivate their staff in order to improve performance and boost profits. Responding to incentives is part of human nature and employees like (and deserve) to be rewarded for their hard work.

For startups and small businesses who have a limited budget, designing a staff incentive scheme can seem like a real challenge. But you don’t need company cars and large annual bonuses to design an incentive scheme that has a positive impact in your workplace.

Here’s how to create an incentive scheme that really works for your staff and your small business;

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It is virtually impossible to eradicate staff sickness absence entirely. However, for small businesses, the costly nature of absenteeism can be extremely disruptive to the day to day running of the business.

There are many costs associated with staff being off sick, including compensation to the absent employee, the additional expense of finding temporary workers and the possible decline of productivity due to other employees being tasked with additional workloads.

Despite its unpredictability, there are steps small business owners can take to minimise the negative effects of absenteeism. This guide provides you with advice on how to effectively manage the different aspects of sickness absence. Continue…

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Red tape… compliance… ticking boxes… costly… time consuming… frustrating… not my job!

Be honest, when you think about HR (Human Resources) in your business, are these the kind of phrases that first spring to mind?

If you ask any small business owner what frustrates them in their company, most will include HR and talk about problems with their staff. They will tell you about people who fail to do what they are supposed to do or what they say they will do! They will bemoan the fact that people constantly ‘let them down’. This is what they relate HR with… and blame HR for!

However, HR does not have to be like this.

Imagine you could get people to do what they are supposed to do and to the standard you need – wouldn’t that make your life as a small business owner easier? Would that add value to your business? Would it free up your time so you could concentrate on other aspects of your business?

Well it is possible – not easy – but possible! Continue…

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As a leader, it’s your job to decide what kind of behaviour you would like in your organisation. But, how do you find your own style as a leader and set the tone for everybody who works with you?

Here, Kate Mercer, author of ‘A Buzz in the Building – how to build and lead a brilliant organisation’, looks at different styles of business leaders and explores the concept of partnership at work as a guiding principle…

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When you employ staff you must give them a certain amount of annual leave, and pay them during this time.

If your employees work a set amount of hours, and received a fixed salary, calculating their annual leave entitlement and holiday pay is straightforward. However, if staff have irregular hours, work overtime, or receive commissions or bonuses then calculating holiday pay can get quite tricky.

To help new business owners and employers understand the regulations on calculating holiday pay, we asked employment law expert, Peter Done to explain the key points for small businesses;
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When it comes to first aid in the workplace, the same principles apply to small businesses with only a few employees, as they do to companies with a bigger workforce spread across multiple locations.

In both instances, there must be plans in place to ensure the day-to-day working operation complies with health and safety regulations, protecting employees from possible injuries and reacting to sudden illness.

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Small businesses and start-ups are particularly vulnerable to staff health issues. If you’re a small business of five staff when suddenly one of the team is off sick with a chronic back complaint, then the business is trying to operate with only 80% of the workforce.

The increased workload this pushes on to other staff can soon create problems. The extra pressure can cause mistakes to be made, customers to be lost and staff to become stressed and a booming business can rapidly spiral into decline.

While it may not be top priority, there are several common sense health and wellbeing steps that will not only protect your small business but also pay significant dividends over time. If your staff are healthier, they’re going to have fewer days of sick leave and you could also see a boost in productivity.

With the value of workplace health being increasingly recognised, we asked Rosie Bambury of the Better Health at Work Alliance, to explain how small businesses can benefit from a bigger focus on employee health.

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As an employer you are required by law to give your employees a certain number of days holiday during the year. The amount of annual leave employees are entitled to depends on several factors.

This guide to leave entitlement for small business owners explains the amount of holiday you are required by UK law to give your employees, and how to calculate this for workers not working a normal working week.

Also covered are the laws regarding bank holidays, carrying over unused leave days, imposing a period of annual leave on staff e.g. over the festive season, and when you can refuse employees’ requests to take holiday;

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Co-creation is the joining together of people to produce a mutually valued outcome.

In business, it is the cultivation of win-win solutions where efficiency, success, and staff fulfilment march hand in hand. Co-creation brings many benefits to businesses, such as;

  • Team members feel respected and honoured, and they know their contributions make a difference.
  • Job satisfaction and creativity is ignited, there is a positive flow of ideas, and problems get solved in surprisingly simple and practical ways.
  • Staff remain loyal and stay longer because they love what they do.

For the entrepreneur, co-creation can be a challenge, a real anathema. The building of a business demands resolve and determination to push through ideas in the face of disbelief and scepticism.

For business owners who have honed such skills, co-creation may not come naturally. They struggle to let go of being in charge, and risk blocking further evolution of the business. Maybe this is due to a subconscious belief that no one can do the job as well as them – or indeed, a dread that others may do it better.

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People who run their own business have a multitude of priorities to contend with every day. When you’re in the thick of it, it can be easy to lose sight of the simple truth that the people you depend upon for your business’ success are, like you, only human. But they are, and it’s well worth taking a proactive approach to safeguarding their psychological wellbeing. It’s good business.

There are stressful times in virtually every business, and we all know it’s virtually impossible to run a business and not get stressed at all. However, too much stress is bad for us.

And for business owners it can be a double-whammy. It can cause more significant mental health problems for you as an individual and also affect your ability to successfully manage and run your business.

To help business owners understand more about stress, how to spot the symptoms and how to tackle it, we asked Dr Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services, AXA PPP healthcare to share some of his knowledge and advice on the subject with ByteStart; Continue…

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Nobody goes into business to make staff redundant. However, it is a task that many business owners will need to undertake at some point

Redundancy is a potentially fair reason to dismiss an employee, but it is vital that you get this procedure right as failure to do so could result in an unfair dismissal claim at the employment tribunal.

Here’s a step by step guide to the redundancy process, and how to negotiate it safely.
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Statutory flexible working rights become available widely to all employees when they complete 26 weeks of continuous employment.

Previously, a request to work flexibly had to be made for the purposes of taking care of dependents e.g. children, however, this requirement has now been removed, giving all employees the right to request flexible working regardless of their care responsibilities.

This means that all of your employees, provided they meet the length of service criteria, can potentially seek to exercise their statutory rights to request flexible working.

Here’s what every small business owner needs to know about flexible working rights, and how to handle flexible working requests from staff so that you don’t end up in front of an Employment Tribunal; Continue…

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Who do you call if a pipe is leaking? A plumber, right? You don’t call an electrician. And when he turns up, you don’t expect him to build a hypothetical model of the structure of your pipework and work on that, leaving you to sort out the actual problem yourself. You expect him to get stuck in and repair the pipe – don’t you?

Yet this is exactly what business owners often do when tackling the issue of building their teams. Continue…

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Technology is the modern day malaise. On the one hand it has helped businesses become more efficient, but on the other it often means people are switched on 24/7 – something business owners need to overcome to improve productivity.

The Chartered Institute of Management (CIM) suggested in a report called the, ‘The Quality of Working Life’ that the ‘long-hours culture’ has now been replaced with an ‘always-on culture’ – with devices such as smart phones and tablets allowing people to be at work all the time, checking emails, answering calls wherever they are. Continue…

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When you start and run your own business, your company inevitably means more to you than anybody else.

As a business owner, it’s easy to get wrapped up in everything and become frustrated with staff that don’t understand ‘your’ business like you do. This mindset can lead to you spending too much time and effort battling with employees, and this is not good for business. Continue…

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Uber has a new logo. And many people don’t like it. There are things we don’t mind changing – seasons, governments, underpants – but most of the time, most of us resist change.

For every innovation, from skinny jeans to a black Bond, there are plenty of us instinctively asking why? Why change? Why do the bus timetables have to change? Why do we need another damned software upgrade? Why can’t fat-free yogurt and smoothies still be good for us?

The questions may vary, but the subtext is constant: Why can’t things stay familiar, and safe? Continue…

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Despite every effort, even the best-run businesses may encounter disciplinary problems with employees from time to time.

Although it is always best to focus on effective management practice and preventative measures, having clear and fair disciplinary procedures is a good first step in avoiding difficult employment tribunals.

Here’s what you need to consider, the procedures you need to put in place and the steps to follow when it comes to disciplinary matters;

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How employers can help change attitudes to mental health in the workplace

March 18, 2016

A recent survey about mental resilience of almost 2,000 workers found that nearly a third of UK employees feel unsure about who to talk to or where to find help or support regarding mental health. And, nearly 40% of people find it hard to talk to or open up about their mental health to anyone. […]

Becoming an employer – Your responsibilities when you hire staff

March 15, 2016

No matter how successful your business has been with just you working in it, if you want to grow you will need to take on employees. There are innumerable benefits of having employees. The right people will ease the workload on you and allow you take holidays. Good staff keep your business running day to […]

5 Ways you could be stifling staff, and 5 Steps to harnessing their full potential

March 10, 2016

It can be exasperating when staff don’t use their initiative, or they go about solving problems in a seemingly baffling way, but often workers donning their stupid hats as they clock-in can be because of how you act as their boss. If you regularly find yourself cursing the stupidity of your employees, then you really […]

If you can’t fire an employee you can’t manage staff

March 4, 2016

Firing staff is never easy. But if you have decided to run your own business then this will be part of what you will be required to do. Here’s how to conduct positive feedback conversations with staff and effectively manage employees that aren’t performing satisfactorily;

7 Common HR Mistakes small businesses need to avoid making

February 15, 2016

Running a successful small business is a balancing act, which requires business owners to be in five different places all at once, whilst also mastering the art of embodying multiple roles in order to service all aspects of their business. Whilst, unfortunately this is just a fact of life for many small business owners, the […]

A guide to dealing with workplace bullying

February 10, 2016

Workplace bullying can take on different forms, including verbal or written, cyber bullying. In a survey conducted by the charity Family Lives, almost three-quarters (73%) of those surveyed who had experienced bullying at work said that the bullying was verbal and included threats, while a similarly high proportion (60%) felt the bullying was social, for example being excluded, […]

7 ways employers’ spying on workers has backfired and destroyed staff motivation

January 26, 2016

The discovery of heat and movement sensors fixed to workers’ desks at The Daily Telegraph has led to accusations that employers care more about their bottom line than they do about having good workplace relations with their staff. That’s the view of Protecting.co.uk, a nationwide workplace law consultancy, which says whatever reason given for placing the […]

How to develop successful business relationships

January 18, 2016

Organisations are collections of human beings and the success of our businesses are grounded in our relationships with each other and with our customers. As business owners, we might have a great vision, incredible ambition, a clear sense of purpose and construct the best strategy in the world, but if we have poor quality relationships […]

7 Common reasons why employees resist change and how to encourage them to embrace new developments

December 23, 2015

Resistance to change can be a major challenge to any new initiatives you might want to implement in your business. Most business owners will be able to identify some employees that prefer the status quo and find new developments difficult to embrace. But before we think about how we can overcome this resistance, we need to […]

Why the chain of accountability is essential to your business success

December 16, 2015

Whatever your position with a company – your role within the organisation matters. There are various functions that each member of the team, as well as your customers, should be able to count on you to provide. Everyone is expected to come through on promises and commitments made, and to deliver on their responsibilities. If […]