5 Ways to Unlock Finance for Your Start-Up Business

How to get funding for your startup business

Everybody understands that starting up a business from scratch is not a simple process or an easy challenge to take on. Regardless of how lofty your ambitions are or whether you’re aiming to establish yourself as a sole trader or as a the boss of a burgeoning new enterprise, finding access to initial and early-stage sources of finance is a vitally important step along the way towards sustainability and success.

Here’s a look at some of the most commonplace and most viable routes to finance currently available to startup businesses. (more…)

What I Learned from Going Bust

Business startup lessons

Every business owner can learn valuable lessons from studying how successful businesses are born and grow. Looking out for, and replicating, key drivers of success in other businesses, can help to drive our own business forward.

However, vital insight can also be gained from business failures. In many cases, what we can learn from terminal business mistakes can prove even more illuminating than what we can glean by following the high-flyers. (more…)

How the new EIS Guidelines impact crowdfunding

Crowdfunding new HMRC EIS Guidelines

When it comes to start-up investment, the UK has some of the best tax relief schemes anywhere in the world.

The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), along with its earlier-stage sibling the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), offer protection of investments in UK start-ups. If the business fails, investors can claim up to 80% of the investment as tax relief against their income tax bill. (more…)

3 Plain and simple steps to build a winning start up strategy

startup strategy tips

You have a great business concept. Now you just need to sell it – not to customers, well, not yet. But to your backer.

Your top sales tool is a business plan. But take care. Potential investors banish the vast majority of plans to the bin, so you need to make sure business plan does the business. (more…)

Why start-ups need to balance focus and flexibility, & how to do this with an Agile Focus Strategy

finding the best market opportunity

Commercialising your innovative ideas requires constant, large leaps forward. This requires great speed, to make sure that your market isn’t filled by your competition.

Yet speed is useless if you aren’t running in the right direction, that is – if you are not pursuing a promising enough market.

If you are too blinkered, you might miss out on blockbuster opportunities. On the other hand, if you spread the net too wide, you risk running yourself into the ground, with too many commitments and too few assets.

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A Start-Up’s Guide to the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)

Finding investors to support fledgling business

One of the biggest obstacles to growth for start-up businesses is investment. Investors are often reluctant to commit their money to a new business with a promising idea but no track record of success.

Fortunately the Government lent a helping hand in 2012, and introduced the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) to help smaller, riskier companies attract investors willing to take a punt on a bright idea becoming a successful business. (more…)

The best UK cities for co-working

A new study examining 18 major UK cities reveals;

  • Edinburgh is the most popular city for co-working spaces
  • Leeds and Bristol are the next best.
  • Brighton & Hove named as least favourable city.
  • London near the bottom of the rankings.

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A guide to setting up your first business website

designing and developing website for new business

Having an online presence is crucial for any modern business so that potential customers are able to find you online. However, many small businesses are missing out on the opportunities that being online bring.

So if you’re yet launch your business online, or are thinking of starting a new business and want to make the best of your website, here are a few handy tips and tricks from Li-at Karpel Gurwicz of Wix, to help you do it successfully: (more…)

Gold Mine or Moon Shot? How to tell if your business idea really is a winner

Is your business idea a gold mine or a mon shot?

We are living in an exciting time… a time where technological changes are booming.

Digitalization, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, 3D printing and the Internet of Things are just a few examples of these amazing technologies that are opening up a world of completely new opportunities.

However, in order to turn the technological possibilities into economic success, you need to identify the emerging market opportunities, and to carefully evaluate their future value, to make sure you are betting on a winning option.

So how do you evaluate whether your big business idea could be a gold mine, or a waste of time?

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Why Your Startup Needs a Good Plan and a Flexible Strategy

what to include in your business plan

Every start-up company needs a good business plan and an effective business strategy. They’re distinct but equally necessary and you shouldn’t confuse one with the other.

You can’t expect to get past first base without a plan. A clear, well-written explanation of what you intend to sell and when you intend to sell it, is the document you will take to your bank manager if you want to get a business loan and to investors if you’re seeking financial backing. (more…)

How to create your own support team and increase your startup’s chance of success

Setting up a support network for your startup business

Starting up and growing your own business can be extremely exciting and exhilarating, but it can also at times be quite lonely and overwhelming, particularly if you don’t have a business partner to share the experience with.

When you are sitting alone at your desk it can be hard to know where to turn for advice and support.

The good news is there is fantastic solution to this. That is to create your own support team that you can call on whenever you need to for help and advice, and even sometimes simply for encouragement and motivation and a friendly chat.

Here’s how to do it: (more…)

What can you learn from Industry Awards?

Business Awrd Winners

No matter what industry you’re in, there are organisations that recognise and reward those that excel above the competition.

When you’re concentrating on finding your feet as a business, you may think that awards should be put on the back-burner. However, you can learn a lot by paying attention to industry awards. (more…)

How do you go from startup to selling a product every 12 minutes?

going from startup to successful business

The dream for many entrepreneurs is to come up with a great new product, find the funding to develop it and then for it to fly off the shelves.

The reality for most is different, but when this does happen it’s worth finding out how this success was achieved because the lessons we learn can help us to replicate the achievements for our own business.

Yuu is one such success, so we asked co-founders, Gill Hayward and Kellie Forbes to share their story with us; (more…)

PR Tips for start-ups

PR tips for new businesses

As a start-up the chances are your marketing budget is smaller than you’d like, so it’s important to get as much out of it as possible.

Although not right for every business startup, PR is a marketing tool that is well worth considering as it builds both awareness and credibility. It can showcase your expertise while delivering third party endorsement from respected journalists and media outlets.

In addition, PR is great for your SEO; having articles authored by you or quoting you filling up the first few pages of Google is just what a start-up business needs.

So how do you do it? We asked, Chantal Cooke, author of PR Demystified; how to get free publicity by giving journalists what they really need, to share her blueprint for DIY PR success;

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Local SEO for Startups: What you need to know before you start

Local SEO tips for startups

According to recent research by Google on search behaviour, a whopping 50% of all people who conducted searches on local businesses visited the business the same day. If you’re a startup owner and serve clients locally, this might sound like music to your ears.

People who conduct local searches are highly motivated and are looking for an instant solution. This is why you should do everything in your power to go after these searches aggressively. (more…)

How to recover from a business failure, fast

Nobody enjoys failure, but everyone experiences it at least a few times in their life and especially as a small business owner.

While it’s one of those things that most people like to gloss over, failing is actually a hugely valuable experience, as long as you know how to make the most of it.

Leigh Ashton, co-founder of Sasudi, stresses the importance of bouncing back from a disappointment as a small business; (more…)

A beginner’s guide to testing your financial plan

test financial plan

According to Bloomberg’s infamous, mythical study, 8 out of 10 businesses fail in their first 18 months.

The Bloomberg figure has been shown to be nonsense, but business failure statistics given by other sources still report business closure rates of 20-40% within the first 2 years of trading, which is still a very high failure rate.

In this article, I’m going to explore one of the ways to avoid the financial pitfalls many businesses find themselves in. I’m going to talk about not just having a financial plan – but understanding the discipline of testing it.

There are myriad reasons why such a large proportion of businesses don’t succeed, but for small businesses cash flow problems are one of the most common reasons. There are practical ways to stave off cash flow problems – but much better if they can be avoided in the first place. (more…)

Part-time Entrepreneurs – How, and why, more young people are juggling a career and their own business

young people juggling career and running own business

The days of a “job for life” are long gone. Millennials are starting their careers in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, but they are also equipped with the skills and attitude to react quickly to changes and spot new opportunities.

The trend of young people changing jobs more frequently is one perhaps one result of a growing desire by young people to take control of their own destiny and pursue their passions, after being inspired by other young people they see doing the same online.

Just having one single “job” in the traditional sense may no longer be satisfying enough for the new generation. They increasingly want to feel passionate, engaged and motivated by their work.

Consequently, there are now thousands of young people who transfer skills between a day job (that pays the bills) and their own personal business and creative projects. (more…)

Banks are making it difficult for ‘Mumpreneurs’

New research by APS financial, the most proven digital UK challenger to banks, reveals what’s stopping UK mums from starting their own business.

With nearly half of UK mums saying they admire entrepreneurial businesswomen like Michelle Mone, Karren Brady and Liz Earle, the study unveils the barriers Mumpreneurs believe are stopping them from becoming the next ‘Baroness Bra’.

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Telecoms mistakes to avoid when starting a business in 2017

Over 600,000 business were started in the UK in 2016, and that number is expected to be exceeded in 2017.

There are many challenges for every one of these business start-ups, but some new businesses make it harder for themselves by making basic mistakes with their telecoms.
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“Can you do it cheaper?” – Giving great answers to tough questions about your prices

“Will you give us a discount on that figure?”

“Can you match the lower price I can get down the street?”

“Can’t you do it cheaper?”

These are the kind of questions people running start-ups and small businesses get asked an awful lot.

But what are the best answers to give? Here, we look at how small business owners can respond to these kind of questions, without losing business and without cutting prices and profit margins.
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7 Steps to starting your business on firm financial foundations

When you are starting out in business, you need to quickly grasp that the three key factors that determine a company’s financial success, or failure, are:

  1. Sales
  2. Control of costs
  3. Cash management

Two out of three simply won’t work – you need to have complete control over these three crucial aspects, otherwise your chances of succeeding in business will be very limited. (more…)

How start-ups can get the most from digital marketing

digital marketing

Starting your own business means you suddenly become the owner of several hats – one for selling, one for bookkeeping, one for planning, one for looking after customers and one for marketing to name but a few.

The marketing element of a start-up is one of the most complex, especially given the changing ways small businesses need to reach customers in a digital world.

Digital marketing can be a bit of a mystery to many small business owners, so to help you explore how you make the most of the opportunities it offers, we’ve asked Tink Taylor, founder of dotmailer, to share some simple tips to get you started on your digital journey.
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Creating the right visuals to complement your presentation

How to creat and deliver presentations

Startups need to get their message across — and fast. It’s therefore vital for every new business to create a great pitch presentation. To help you prepare a compelling case, we asked, Emma Ledden, author of The Presentation Book to share the secrets of how to produce memorable presentations that help put you on the map. (more…)

Simple stories, super results for startups

It might be strange to think that storytelling can be a powerful tool for startups. But stories provide a fantastic way to explore the purpose of your new business, what it stands for, what it will be like and how you will achieve your vision.

The great thing about stories is that we are all designed to be storytellers. Every time we talk about why we are starting a business, every time we share our idea of what the business will be achieving in the future we are sharing stories.

When we do this, we are influencing others – sometimes these stories change our thinking, sometimes they help us and those around us to understand and accept new ideas. So with stories, being such a powerful tool for new business owners, here are 4 simple strory-telling techniques you can use to get results; (more…)

Build a Brand, Build a Business

build a brand

If you’re starting a new business you’ll, no doubt, want to establish and build a strong brand. Doing so will bring huge benefits over the long-term, helping you to stand out from the crowd, generate more customers and ultimately build a more valuable business.

But how do you build a brand, and where do you start? We asked branding expert, and author of ‘Winning in Your Own Way; the Nine and a Half Golden Rules of Branding‘, Robert Bean to explain;
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Why financial forecasting is important for startups, and how to do it painlessly

When you are launching a new business, it’s fair to say that planning your finances isn’t the most exciting aspect of of being a startup. However, it is a crucial part of understanding whether your business has a chance of succeeding

And the good news is that there are now dedicated software, tools and apps that can quickly and easily produce financial forecasts for you.

So to help you understand more about how planning your finances can help your startup succeed, we asked Robin Booth of Brixx.com to share his experience with us;

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What is the purpose of your business?

Management wisdom

When you are starting a business, you will need to answer many questions. However, one of the most fundamental questions any business owner will be asked is, what is the purpose of your business?

So what would your answer be?

How you answer the question, has a significant bearing on whether your business is likely to succeed, so we asked Jim McGrath, author of The Little Book of Big Management Wisdom to reveal what your answer should be; (more…)

Getting your IT right as your startup grows

Small businesses often begin when an entrepreneur brings an idea to life on a laptop at the kitchen table. At this point, the entire IT infrastructure of the business is likely to be the computer and the software it’s running. But things can grow very quickly.

As your startup grows, the size and complexity of your business increases. An integrated and functional IT system can help you manage this transition, improving productivity, security and also saving money. And best of all, because of developments in hardware and software, it doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated to manage.

Using cloud services, a functioning virtual network can be created simply and quickly for your business in a matter of moments online. In fact, creating the network is the simple bit – to make it function properly and securely, you’ll need to gain some insight, do some planning and potentially get some external support.

Here, we share some practical hints and tips to help you manage your business’s IT as you grow and develop. (more…)

Turbo-charge your start-up by sharing what you know

One of the biggest challenges you face as a start-up is getting your name out there. However, even if people hear your name, unless they know what makes your business unique, they are unlikely to choose you over a competitor. Help someone understand how you can solve their problem, however, and you’re in with a chance of becoming their preferred supplier.

One of the best ways to grow awareness is to share your industry-specific knowledge. Information you take for granted can be very valuable to people in other industries . . . but only if they are made aware of it.

By sharing what you know, you not only help others to improve their business, you can simultaneously position yourself as the ‘go-to’ person in your industry, and turbo-charge your start-up. (more…)

A small business guide to carrying out effective staff appraisals

When staff appraisal or review time rolls around, many small business owners view this as a waste of their valuable time. This is not the case, however, and employers who spend the time and effort to make these meetings are a success will often get much more out of staff appraisals than they put into them.

In this guide, we look at staff appraisals and outline how smaller employers can reap the benefits of an effective employee appraisal scheme;

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Why being a good customer could drive your startup’s future success

Launching a startup is weird. You have a big idea driving you, with lots of small things to do to get going.

You don’t necessarily have lots of business coming in or staff on board yet, but still you have to run this fledgling business the way you are going to run your future super-successful business.

The way you behave, now, at the start, will set the scene for what your business will be like in the future. This is where being a good customer comes in. (more…)

How to Find a Serviced Office to Suit Your Business

serviced office for small business

If your new business needs staff straight away, then you may find choosing the right office space difficult.

In this guide, we look at the benefits a serviced office could provide and give some tips on things to watch out for when you’re trying to find a serviced office.
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Health & Safety Plans for Startups – How to write one for your business

It’s safe to say that writing a health & safety plan isn’t one of the most exciting parts of starting a business. In fact, it’s something that many new business owners neglect to do.

A health and safety plan is a plan which outlines how health and safety protocol will work in your business. In an ideal world, it would be seen as something that goes alongside a business plan but, far too often, this is not the case and businesses end up neglecting it.

Planning for health and safety means more than just checking the law as you go to make sure you are following it. Rather, a health and safety plan is something that should be done in the early stages of business planning.
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A Guide to Bookkeeping for New Business Owners

Guide to bookkeeping for new business owners

If you’re in the midst of starting a new business, then the bookkeeping requirements are unlikely to be at the forefront of your mind. At this stage there can be far more pressing things for you to think about.

However, once your business is taking shape, you will need to start thinking about keeping up-to-date and accurate accounting records of your income and expenses. More than just a legal requirement, basic bookkeeping is an essential part of your ability to manage your business effectively.

But what kind of details are you going to need? (more…)