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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.

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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.

Ten things we learned from the Donut blogs in 2019

At this time of year, it is natural to look back on the year that has just passed. While the government has tied itself in knots over Brexit and has gone nowhere fast, small businesses across the UK have been busy creating new jobs, new products and embracing new technologies and opportunities.

In case you were busy too and missed these popular Donut blogs, here are ten things we learned.

  1. Millions of people are paying too much tax

    The team at Coconut told us that millions of self-employed people across the UK are paying too much in tax as they are missing out on allowable expenses they could be claiming. They shared five of the most common allowable expenses that often go unclaimed.

  2. Demand for billboard advertising is soaring

    Paul Inman of AirOutdoor explained how smaller, local businesses have discovered the benefits of outdoor advertising as an affordable and effective way of targeting local customers. "Traditional billboards have a competitive advantage… primarily because they provide brands with 24-hour visibility and exclusivity within a strategic location."
  1. Outsourcing can help you grow your business

    Not everyone was putting their feet up on a sun lounger over the summer. Tom Welbourne of The Good Marketer was thinking about how small businesses can give the business a shot in the arm and turbo-charge their growth. "Everyone in business is there because they are experts in their field. But that doesn't necessarily translate to ‘expert in everything’. Trying to do it all can lead to failure.

    "Outsourcing tasks such as marketing will not only pay for itself in the long run, you will be tapping into expertise that can only come with experience. We can’t all be good at everything!"
  1. Money is less of a motivator for millennials

    Millennials have grown up with the dramatic technological advances that have swept across the globe. The 'always-on', wireless, connected world is second nature to these 'digital natives'. Consequently, they expect to be able to work in ways that were unthinkable even a couple of years ago.

    Alliance Virtual Offices said, "Given their adoption of mobile technology, millennials have grown up with the idea that work is no longer a place you go, but a thing you do. Therefore, they are much more accustomed to the concept of work/life balance than their parents and grandparents. They expect it, and they are prepared to prioritise their lifestyle needs over traditional imperatives such as pay and bonuses."
  1. Some company directors don't need to file a tax return

    Our very own Caroline Waters pointed out that some company directors no longer need to complete a tax return. She told us, "The criteria for company directors are the same as for any employed individual. If your only income is already taxed at source, such as PAYE, or you only have small amounts of savings interest or dividends below £2,500, you may not need to file a return."
  1. A social media presence is critical for SMEs

    Alexa Coleman told us, "We have now witnessed a massive paradigm shift as regards the influence of social media. If you want to reach an online audience, you HAVE to be where they are - or risk being forgotten. Even huge enterprises such as General Electric and IBM post regular updates to increase sales and brand awareness.

    "This is why small- to medium-sized enterprises need to take full advantage of these channels."
  1. Customers don't care about your products

    We may believe that our products are the best thing since sliced bread, but chances are your B2B customers aren't really that bothered according to Jason Ball of Considered Content. He told us, "Customers do not care about your business or your product; they only care about their business or their own standing in the company they work for. A good marketing strategy will consider that mindset at every single stage."
  1. The amount of tax you pay depends on where you live

    Since the Scottish Parliament gained control of income tax, they have been able to determine how tax is administered. This has meant that you could be paying more or less tax depending on which side of the border you live. Mike Parkes of GoSimpleTax analysed the legislative changes affecting the UK and the tax differences between each country.
     
  2. Small can appear mighty

    The Home Business Report from Enterprise Nation suggests that around 70% of new businesses in the UK start from home and they collectively contribute £300 billion in turnover to the economy. Despite this, there is still prejudice against businesses that operate from home.

    Jo Meunier, Senior Editor at Alliance Virtual Offices, told us that running your business from home doesn't mean you have to look small or unprofessional. "Start-ups and smaller businesses often lack the sense of establishment and credibility that emanates from larger businesses. Even if you have years of industry experience under your belt, sometimes it all comes down to perception.

    "So, it’s up to you to project the type of image that you aspire to. Happily, there are certain ways to help make your business look, and act, older than its years." Jo shared four simple steps you can take to make your business appear bigger than it actually is.
     
  3. Change is not always a bad thing

    The Donuts celebrated ten years since their launch this year, and our founder Rory MccGwire reflected on the monumental shifts in the world of business in that time - from the explosion of social media marketing to the boom in flexible working options. While many of the developments required a total shift in the way we worked, most of the challenges we faced along the way have made us leaner, more flexible and better able to adapt to the needs of our clients.
     

We are looking forward to 2020 and the new decade ahead - whatever challenges and opportunities it may bring. We wish you all a very happy Christmas and hope you have a prosperous New Year.

Copyright 2019. Article written by Fiona Prior of the Donut Blog Team.

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