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.
A business' most important asset is its people. If your business is to succeed, you're going to have to get the best out of your employees.
You're legally obliged to have a written health and safety policy if you have five or more employees. You should also have written disciplinary and grievance procedures which comply with the Acas code of practice. Good policies about real-world issues can also remove any doubt about what's expected of employees and employers.
Even those with years of HR (human resources) experience can find it tough to manage certain people. What motivates one person might not motivate another. Some will naturally be more driven or have higher work standards. Some require little supervision, while others need lots.
Being fair yet firm will work with most employees. You're more likely to retain a good employee if they feel valued and appreciated. As well as being able to put your points across, you must also be able to listen to your staff. You'll have to be flexible, too, because this enables employees to juggle their professional and domestic responsibilities.
You need to set clear, achievable objectives for all your employees. Only then can you assess how well they're performing and help them to develop. You also need to remove obstacles and make sure employees have the resources they require.
Staff appraisals provide the perfect platform to give feedback (good and bad). Employees can also tell you about any problems they're experiencing. You can then agree the best way forward. An annual staff appraisal complemented by a shorter meeting every three months is advised, but you and your employees should be free to raise employment issues at any time.
Where feasible, involve employees in important decisions about their jobs and your business. Never make promises you can't or won't keep, because it will erode trust.
Don't give your employees impossible workloads, either, it usually backfires. But that doesn't mean you should be a soft touch. Tackle 'skivers' immediately and don't be afraid to give an employee a 'pep talk' when their performance or conduct dips, but give them the opportunity to explain themselves. And remember - even simply saying thanks to your employees can have a big impact on morale.
Don't tolerate bullying or discrimination and make sure employees know the importance of acting professionally (which doesn't mean they can't have a laugh or enjoy their work). Keep your premises clean, tidy, spacious and comfortable, because working environment affects morale and people's health.
Rewarding good performance is crucial and cash bonuses always go down well - if deserved and you can afford it. Some small companies even give shares or offer perks. Promoting employees can also increase motivation, but overlooking deserving people will have the opposite effect, so be fair and even-handed at all times.
Discipline and grievance problems can happen in all organisations - which is when having a written employment policy, which details your discipline and grievance procedures, can protect you.
Your discipline and grievance procedures must comply with employment legislation, otherwise a wronged current or ex-staff member could take you to tribunal.
If problems arise, act quickly, fairly and decisively. Good mutual communication can prevent more serious consequences. Seek professional advice before disciplining or sacking an employee, if in doubt.
To find out how well your business manages its people, use the Acas Model Workplace tool.