How to set up and run a small business

Leaderboard – Start Ups

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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…


Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, of course, but many of the most innovative entrepreneurs are creative contrarians. They are outsiders, gainsaying the doubters that say it cannot be done. In fact, many entrepreneurs are introverts, which can be a major barrier when it comes to that vital part of the entrepreneurial process: pitching.

Entrepreneurs are suddenly asking to be judged by their doubters, which is certain to raise their defences. Yet, painful as it is, the only way to make their creativity profitable is to present their work to those that hold the keys to their future.

Luckily, there are plenty of books, advice and personal experience that can guide us through this important process, which are distilled here into 10 key pitching principles; Continue…


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.


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?



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.


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.



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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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.


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?


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;


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…


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;



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 Dao, author and founder of 50Kings says;

“Self-confidence is the fundamental basis from which leadership grows. Trying to teach leadership without first building confidence is like building a house on a foundation of sand. It may have a nice coat of paint, but it is ultimately shaky at best.”

But what is confidence? Having confidence or lack of confidence means something different to each individual, and as a result people behave differently.


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 environment of extreme uncertainty and constant change with disruptive and fast-moving markets. Being agile helps to navigate this journey and find the best path to creating a sustainable and scalable business model.

Agile isn’t just for tech businesses, any business can use agility to springboard their growth. Companies with an agile culture that embraces and adapts to change, can turn uncertainty into opportunity, and flourish when other businesses fail.

Here are ten ways your business can become more agile today by adopting agile thinking and tools; Continue…


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 own business.

There are a number of different legal matters which need to be addressed before setting up a new business. Seeking good advice to help you through the planning and setup process ensures your business is built on solid foundations andcan provide protection when things do not go to plan.

Being prepared for any legal issues that could occur and having a good understanding of business law is essential when setting up a new company; lacking both could lead to a make or break situation. This guide is here to help you get your business off to a flying start and make sure you are both prepared and protected for what the future holds. Continue…


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 on with starting your small business;


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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, […]

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

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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

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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 […]

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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 […]

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There is so much that a small business owner, or potential entrepreneur, can do with just a shift in how we think, and what we focus on. When you start to look back at what you have achieved and where you are in your life, work and business, you would begin to realise that success […]

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According to research, around 7% of working age adults in the UK expect to start a business in the next three years. Many of these aspiring new business owners will be envisaging a multi-million pound business, or even a multi-billion pound business. But, statistically, only 4% of business owners ever reach the £1million turnover mark. […]

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