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We're here with practical information for your business. Learn about business planning, running a business and more.


For a successful business, you need a viable business idea, the skills to make it work and the funding. Discover whether your idea has what it takes.

Forming your business correctly is essential to ensure you are protected and you comply with the rules. Learn how to set up your business.

It is likely you will need funding to start your business unless you have your own money. Discover some of the main sources of start up funding.

Businesses and individuals must account for and pay various taxes. Understand your tax obligations and how to file, account and pay any taxes you owe.

Businesses are required to comply with a wide range of business laws. We introduce the main rules and regulations you must comply with.

Learn why business planning is an essential exercise if your business is to start and grow successfully, attract funding or target new markets.

Marketing matters. It drives sales and helps promote your brand and products. Discover how to market your business and reach your target customers.

Some businesses need a high street location whilst others can be run from home. Understand the key factors from cost to location, size to security.

Your employees can your biggest asset. They can also be your biggest challenge. We explain how to recruitment and manage staff successfully.

It is likely your business could not function without some form of IT. Learn how to specify, buy, maintain and secure your business IT.

Few businesses manage the leap from start up to high-growth business. Learn what it takes to scale up and take your business to the next level.

Employment law is designed to safeguard employee rights, but it also removes ambiguity about what's expected of both parties. So if you get it right, it can be good for you as an employer too.

Small business owners can't be expected to know the details of every piece of employment law. However, knowing a few basic yet important facts could protect you from potentially costly legal action.

Rules about working hours

Unless they opt out (and confirm this in writing), employees don't have to work more than an average of 48 hours a week over a 17-week period.

They have the right to at least one full day off during every seven, in addition to their daily rest period (20 minutes paid, if the working day is longer than six hours). Employees are entitled to a daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours in every 24 hours.

Full-time employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks' paid annual leave per year, while part timers receive pro-rata entitlement.

Minimum wage

Every employee is entitled to receive the minimum wage applicable to their age. The National Living Wage is applicable to employees aged 25 and over and is payable at £7.83 per hour.

The National Minimum Wage for workers aged 21 to 25 is £7.38 per hour from 1 April 2018.The development rate (for 18 to 21-year-olds) is £5.90 per hour and the rate for 16 to 17-year-olds is £4.20 per hour. Apprentices aged under 19 and those in the first year of their apprenticeship are entitled to £3.70 per hour. (Apprentices aged over 19 and those who have completed more than one year of their apprenticeship are entitled to receive the full rate of National Minimum wage applicable to their age.)

Fixed-term employees have the right to the same pay as comparable permanent staff. Part-time workers are entitled to pro-rata pay and holiday.

In a working year, employees are entitled to at least statutory sick pay on their fourth day of absence. They don't have to be paid for the first three days.

Maternity rights

Employees who are parents, or who are about to become parents, have a number of rights. A woman cannot be sacked or made redundant because she's pregnant. She must be given time off for antenatal care and can take 52 weeks' statutory maternity leave. To qualify for statutory maternity pay (SMP) - which can only be paid for 39 weeks - she must have worked for you for 26 weeks by the end of the fifteenth week before the week her baby is due and earn at least the lower earnings limit (£116 per week).

She is entitled to 90% of her average weekly earnings (AWE) for the first six weeks, then the standard weekly rate of £145.18 or 90% of her AWE if this is lower than £145.18. Employees who don't qualify for SMP might qualify for maternity allowance. Employers can recover 92% of their SMP payments from HMRC (103% if their total NI payments are £45k or less). Women can't return to work within two weeks of giving birth (four weeks if they work in a factory).

Paternity rights

Paternity leave allows eligible employees to take one or two weeks' paid leave (paid at £145.18 or 90% AWE, whichever is lower) at or around the period in which the baby is due or is born.

Fathers, partners and parents-to-be have the right to take unpaid time off work to attend up to two ante-natal appointments.

When adopting a child, one of the adoptive parents is entitled to six months' paid and six months' unpaid leave. If their partner works, he or she can take paternity leave.

Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) gives parents more flexibility to arrange time off in the year after the birth or adoption of their baby. A new mother will be able to share up to 50 weeks' leave with her partner after taking the initial two weeks off following the birth of her baby (four weeks if the work is in a factory).

Leave can be taken in up to three separate blocks and parents can choose how much time off each of them will take. SPL and ShPP must be taken before the baby's first birthday (or within one year of adoption).

SPL can be used either alongside, or instead of, traditional maternity, adoption and paternity leave.

Flexible working

Employers must consider requests for flexible working conditions from all eligible employees with at least 26 weeks' service (employees adopting employee-shareholder status do not have the statutory right to request flexible working except in relation to a flexible working request on return to work from maternity, paternity or adoption leave).

Pension Provision

All employers are required to 'auto-enrol' eligible employees into, and contribute towards, a workplace pension. Unless your employees specifically opt out, you will have to provide them with access to a contributory pension and make contributions towards their pension funds (you must contribute at least 2% of earnings and your employee must contribute at least 3% from 6 April 2018).

Reasonable adjustments

You must make 'reasonable adjustments' to your premises if this enables suitably qualified people with disabilities to work for you.

Health and Safety

As part of your health and safety obligations, you must provide a secure, safe and healthy working environment, which also grants sufficient privacy to employees.

You mustn't undermine the relationship of trust and confidence that should exist between you and your staff, so don't engage in gossip or disclose personal information. Employees can belong to a trade union and they're legally entitled to alert the relevant authorities if your actions are illegal or dangerous.

You also have legal responsibilities when recruiting and managing staff.