How to set up and run a small business

Leaderboard – Start Ups

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Most business cards are about as much use as a scrap of paper with a name and number scribbled on it. That’s fine if you are looking for a date, but not so good for showcasing your business.

With a little thought, however, it’s easy to create a business card that packs a real promotional punch and helps you, and your small business, stand out from the crowd. Here are some tips and ideas that will help you design business cards that make a big impression;

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With age comes wisdom, but all too often in the business world, hubris can come along for the ride too.

After finessing business decision making for decades, executives naturally begin to conclude that their specialised knowledge, expertise and business skills mean that they always know the best way to solve a client problem, to win a major account, or to drive a workplace innovation.

After all their past successes confirm this. Subconsciously survivorship and confirmation biases are at work; good decisions are reinforced, and poor ones are forgotten – which distorts their real importance.

So, can these experienced executives learn something from Millennials? Absolutely! Continue…

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As a business owner, the welfare of your staff will naturally be a key concern. Health and safety is just one of many concerns for small businesses, both in terms protecting employees and complying with the law.

The government’s Health and Safety Regulations state that employers must provide “adequate and appropriate” equipment that ensures injured employees can be treated immediately if they have an accident or feel ill. The regulations apply to businesses of every size, even if you have fewer than five employees, so this means you need to have First Aid Kits available to treat staff injuries and illnesses.

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To create a successful new business you need four things;

  1.  A good plan,
  2.  A good product that people actually want,
  3.  Good people who can make things happen, and
  4.  A good supply of money.

Running a business is also a way of life, which invariably takes up a lot of your time, so when you are starting a business choose something that you enjoy doing, something you have a real passion for. Someone who waits to be successful in a business they don’t have a passion for will be waiting a very long time. Continue…

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Starting a new business is fun. It’s a world of learning and discovery as you set out on your own and try to build a brand new business from scratch.

Many people are so caught up in building their business that they don’t really consider where they want it to go in the long-term. And very few people are forward thinking enough to plan the finish – their exit strategy – when they are starting up.

Yet it’s an essential part of your start-up planning. Not only will there have to be a day when you walk away from the business, but when you know where you ultimately want it to go, you are much more likely to make the right decisions along the way.

Here’s why you need to plan your exit before you launch your new venture;
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When you start a business, everyone says networking is important; so you network. But are you getting more out of your networking than passable plonk and the occasional first-class canapé? Have your efforts delivered a strong network that adds value to your business?

Successful networking is about more than turning up to grip-n-grin for an hour or so. That’s for weddings and next-door’s BBQ. The point of networking is to build mutually beneficial, integrated alliances (with the right partners), and to raise your own status. For start-ups and small businesses, where one-on-one relationships and personal contacts drive word of mouth business, this is especially important.

For your networking to bring benefits, you need to plan and prepare; winging it won’t do. You need to be in the right places, making the right first impression in front of the right people. And you need to know in advance what your follow-up strategy will be. Continue…

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Business growth can be characterised in several ways – sales, profit, employees…. and looking to make the business scalable and capable of achieving sustainable profitable growth is a fully understandable objective.

However, whichever way you look at it, the underlying driver is likely to be that the founder wants to look beyond funding his or her lifestyle and start seeking value creation. Continue…

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If you’re a start-up, chances are you are going to have to get out there and tell people about your new venture. What you say, and how you say it, is a lot more important than you may realise.

When it comes to communicating what you do, you don’t want to make a rookie error, just because your business is new. And the last place you want to miss the mark is when it comes to your pitch.

Preparing a powerful presentation is one of the best ways to communicate your start-up’s mission and vision. Deliver it well and you’ll earn a reputation as “one to watch”. Nail it, and your chances of success will increase exponentially. Using the “Power of Three” will help you to do just that.
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Being able to persuade people to come around to your point of view is a very valuable skill to have, and particularly so when you are starting and running your own business.

When you’re launching a new venture you might need to convince potential investors to fund your fledgling business, persuade suppliers to give you favourable terms, encourage great people to join you and entice new clients on board. To do all of these successfully, you will need to be able to influence others and their views.

So with this ability being so crucial in helping you to grow your business, how do you get people around to your point of view?

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When we are starting up and running our own business there are extraordinary demands on our time. We need to spend time on getting our product right, finding customers, seeking finance, managing staff and dealing with the latest legislation, such as the new auto-enrolment pension laws.

With the sheer range of tasks and every day duties to tackle, we can all find that our business goals can get lost in the frenzy and the frustration of not meeting our aims can get us down.

To achieve long-term success we need stay focused on our goals. And to achieve those goals, we need to keep quite a degree of discipline to ensure that our time doesn’t get sucked away and evaporate like a puddle on a sunny day.
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Employers and employees talking to each other is a good thing… right? Of course it is, but only if they’re actually listening. Key to the success of any start-up is effective communication between everybody in your team. But that means more than merely ensuring that all your staff know what’s required of them.

An employee can often feel their role is that of a worker bee, and all that’s asked of them is to get on with it. While this relationship can work to an extent, it usually results in frustrated staff because they know the business and can see how to improve aspects of their work, but there’s no outlet for them to share their unique understanding, insights and ideas.

So, if you’re starting a business, (or running an existing business), and want to harness the full talents of all your staff, you need to learn to listen actively.

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Companies often look to improve collaboration in order to help streamline their processes and encourage strategic pace in their organisation. Collaboration is seen as an important element in helping organisations approach their customers and industry from a more judicious standpoint, rather than striving to get ahead by mere speed.

Effective collaboration is much more than just ‘working together’ – it’s a strategic choice too. But what does this mean for start-up businesses? We asked William Buist, founder of xTEN to answer some common questions business start-ups ask about collaboration; Continue…

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If you are looking to start a new business, there is a good chance that you will need some funding to get it off the ground. Most businesses will have start-up costs, whether it’s securing premises, stock, equipment or hiring people, and they will all need paying for.

Some people might have savings, or a redundancy payment, they can use to fund their start-up, but others will need to find funds before they can launch their new business. However, as many prospective business owners find out, getting start-up finance can be difficult.

For someone who just wants to start their own business, negotiating the finance maze can be confusing and take up a lot of valuable time. So to help explain the different options, and how to increase your chances of success, we asked Carol Cheesman of Cheesman’s Accountants to answer some common questions on how to fund a new business; Continue…

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Many business owners now recognise what a powerful tool a book can be to help them build credibility for their brand and raise the profile and visibility of their business.

A book gives you a terrific platform from which to share your purpose and your vision. In the main, people who have written books about their expertise gain huge respect from others as not very many people ever get around to doing it!

So how should you go about writing and publishing a book that will help you grow your small business? Continue…

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It is often noted that a business is nothing without its people, but how do small business leaders create a winning team when their time and resources are often taken up with getting the business up and running?

The key is to remember that a great team with an average plan will be far more successful than an average team with a great plan. A great team is one that shares a common goal, its members are engaged and work within an environment of support and trust. Employees who are engaged and feel supported are more likely to be loyal and motivated. Continue…

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If you are not already an avid tweeter, Twitter is an online tool for creating short messages (tweets) that can be read by anyone who wants to receive them (followers).

Sometimes your followers will forward your tweet to their followers (retweet), and so on, until your original message is being read by everyone on Twitter that is at all interested in what you have to say. Although it is a social medium, it can be used for marketing purposes, as long as you are careful not to spoil all the fun. Continue…

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A key skill for business owners is the ability to deliver a successful business pitch.

A pitch can take many different forms, it might be pitching for contracts with possible new customers, highlighting potential opportunities to new partners, persuading talented individuals to join your team, or trying to win investment to grow your company.

With the ability to pitch being such an important tool in a business owner’s armoury, here are some simple steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of succeeding with your pitch and getting that handshake.
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There are restaurants that have people queuing up to dine, products that you have to pre-order months before they are released, tickets that sell out within hours and shares that shoot up in value right after they float.

There are cars that are snapped up before they are constructed and apartments that are sold before the first brick has been laid.

But, why are a select group of people and products in such high demand? And more importantly, how can you recreate a similar desire for your business?
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Statistics from HMRC show that around 80% of companies registering for VAT cease trading within three years, and this statistic has held true for many years now.

With the chances of survival so slim, it’s a wonder so many people decide to take the plunge and start their own business. Anybody that manages to steer a start-up safely through these crucial early years, has done so against the odds and should be heartily congratulated on this achievement.

So what are the secrets to surviving the start-up years, and thriving beyond? Continue…

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Your business may offer amazing products and a fantastic service. It may have a clear, determined vision of what it is doing and where it is going. But if your potential customers don’t know it exists, your wonderful business is likely to disappear without trace. As Alan Sugar put it: “Your start-up will be a cock-up if you don’t learn marketing communications”.
How to get your new business noticed
But what can a small business do to get themselves noticed?

There are two options: pay lots of money to a marketing company, or do it yourself. The DIY route costs less (if anything at all) and lets you use your unique insight to create the kind of personalised, precision-targeted marketing message that an external marketing consultant could never pull off.

So let’s dip into the marketing communications pic ‘n’ mix to see what methods are at your disposal;

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What is stopping business owners and leaders from being truly confident?

August 14, 2015

In 2014 Gallup carried out a study of 2,500 entrepreneurs and identified the top ten behaviours that they consistently observed in highly successful entrepreneurs – second on the list was confidence. Self-confidence is a vital ingredient for great leadership and having confidence is essential for any business leader to achieve their full potential. As Francisco […]

10 ways your business can become more agile today

August 10, 2015

In the tech start-up sector agile is a popular mind set and method used for business and product development. It’s a methodology that aims to maximise profit, deliver value and help you to enjoy the journey of shaping and building a successful business. When launching and growing a business and developing new products we face […]

An introduction to business law for start-ups

August 6, 2015

Starting a new business is an exciting time but getting the administrative side of things set up can be quite a time-consuming process. However, if these initial tasks are completed in a thorough and efficient manner, things are more likely to run smoothly and you can focus on the more exciting aspects of running your […]

Forget about pitching your big ‘Million Pound Idea’ – why business ideas are worthless

July 7, 2015

While many business start-ups focus on trying to come up with a single ‘killer’ business idea and attempting to raise funding for their grand vision, this is the wrong approach according to the author of ‘The Millionaire Dropout’, Vince Stanzione. Here’s why Vince thinks you should forget about the big business idea and just get […]

8 Common mistakes new business owners make

June 23, 2015

Building a successful new business is a roller-coaster. There will be days you know you couldn’t do anything else, and days you wish you did. Sometimes you’ll be on top of the world, but at other times it will be a struggle to drag yourself out of bed. In the high-stakes world of starting a […]

How getting a DBS check on new employees can reduce fraud and help protect your business

June 17, 2015

It’s natural to want to protect your business. After working hard to get where you are today, you want to do all you can to safeguard your company against any potential threats. While many companies are cracking down on criminal attacks from burglars, they often disregard the threat of fraudulent attacks from their very own staff, […]

The power of the ‘pilot’ – 3 reasons why you should test your new business before launch

May 28, 2015

Setting up a new business is an exciting, thrilling and all encompassing challenge! Personally, I think it is the best and most stretching form of personal and professional development that a person can do. Creating and selling your own products and services, building a network of happy customers and managing your own time are just […]

Harnessing the power of body language to deliver captivating speeches and presentations

May 27, 2015

You are ready for your big speech: you’ve crafted the talk, you’ve tailored the content for the audience and you’ve rehearsed your words. That’s great – but have you thought about the body language you will use when delivering it? When we are preparing for presentations and speeches, we tend to focus on our words […]

Why your start-up needs to slow down

May 26, 2015

It was Mahatma Gandhi who once famously said, “There’s more to life than increasing its speed.” And his observation applies to business as much as it applies to life. Businesses that have the most success are the ones willing to take the time to slow down and think about what they are doing. This is […]

How you can build your business in 90 minutes a day

May 22, 2015

Whether you have just launched your new start-up, or are the owner of an existing business, to be successful you need to make the best use of your valuable time. With so many different aspects of the business to think about, and a host of demands on their time, it’s easy for small business owners […]