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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.

Striking back

The January blues are about to get a lot worse for many commuters. The long-running dispute between Southern Rail and its drivers will bring further strike action next week. The drivers’ union, ASLEF, has announced three days of strikes on 10, 11 and 13 January with further strikes planned for later in the month.

The strike action comes hot on the heels of an average price increase of 2.3% for rail users. The price increase has come in despite many commuters complaining of increasingly crowded trains and poorer service.

The impact of the rail strikes will be felt across the capital - by commuters and businesses alike - as workers seek alternative routes into work, clogging up roads, buses and cycle routes. The Federation of Small Businesses estimates that the tube strikes in February 2014 cost businesses up to £600 million.

So what can you do to mitigate the impact of the strikes on your business?

Make it clear to employees what you expect from them if they are affected by the strikes. Ask them to inform you in advance so that you can explore alternative ways of working. Can they use alternative forms of transport? Could they car share?

Is it possible for your workers to carry out their duties remotely or from home? Can they alter the place or times that they work? If you have shift workers, it might be possible for employees affected by the strikes to swap shifts with those who are not.

Allowing staff to start and finish early can help employees avoid the worst of the traffic and queues for buses. Employees could also be allowed to make up hours at a later date.

Taking a flexible approach in this way can avoid the need for employees to take paid or unpaid leave and can allow you to continue operating.

If you rely on travel, transport or regular deliveries, explore whether it is possible to bring forward or delay your plans. Can you hold meetings virtually using services such as Skype? Can you pre-order sufficient stock or make your deliveries earlier than usual to make travel during the strikes unnecessary?

Preparation, communication and flexibility is key to minimising the impact of strikes on you and your business. Work with your staff, suppliers and customers to find ways of avoiding necessary travel during the strike.

And finally, remember that further strikes are planned for later in the month. If you find that your plans don’t work out this time, look at what you can do differently next time.

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