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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.

Controlling a budget - checklist

Staying on top of your finances is vital if you want your business to succeed. Read our handy hints on controlling your budget.

  • Make sure the budget you have prepared includes all the key indicators you wish to control.
  • Use budgeting software to set realistic budgets based on historical data.
  • Give responsibility for budget items only to individuals with the authority to control the outcome.
  • Schedule regular reviews of budget performance.
  • Review budgeted figures to identify cash flow or other problems which can be anticipated and tackled in advance.
  • Use your software's exception reporting and alerts to flag potential issues.
  • Compare margins, working capital and other key ratios with historical figures to identify how performance is expected to improve or deteriorate.
  • Carry out a sensitivity analysis to see what effect different outcomes could have on performance.
  • Focus on controlling items which could have a significant effect on overall business performance. For example, reducing waste, eliminating unnecessary spending, monitoring overtime or focussing sales efforts on the targets most likely to convert to profitable business. 
  • As figures become available, compare actual sales to budget and identify reasons for this sales variance.
  • Determine how fixed costs differed from budget and whether any changes are likely to be permanent such as increases to the minimum wage.
  • Analyse the extent to which variances in variable costs reflect sales variances, or whether prices or efficiency have changed.
  • Identify to what extent variances in income or expenditure reflect differences in timing rather than performance.
  • Take action to sort out underperformance or excessive expenditure which can be controlled.
  • Capitalise on unexpected favourable changes.
  • Revise future budgets in the light of the most up-to-date information.

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