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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.

Increasing profitability - checklist

Profitability needs to be the key long-term aim of any business. Follow our helpful tips to ensure you have the best chance of making and increasing profits.

  • Ensure managers (and other employees) are focused on profitability, but without losing sight of the need to manage cash flow.
  • Identify the key drivers of profitability - set and monitor key performance indicators (eg sales per employee, gross margin).
  • Avoid distractions. For example, one-off projects which don't play to your strengths or contribute to your strategic goals.
  • Identify waste and eliminate it. This could be something as simple as lighting and heating left on overnight. Equally, you might identify wasteful processes or inefficient equipment, cumbersome or repetitive processes or manual processes that could be automated.
  • Create plans with measurable objectives and set budgets - learn from experience to make continuous improvements.
  • Continually gather market information - build a dialogue with key customers and suppliers.
  • Anticipate the knock-on effects of any changes you plan.
  • Focus on a niche market you understand.
  • Invest in advertising and other promotional techniques such as social media to increase sales volume. Monitor the return on investment and drop any activities that do not pay their way.
  • Actively sell and deliver a service that builds customer loyalty.
  • Maximise the value of sales: can you sell add-on or related products or encourage bulk buying?
  • Consider moving upmarket and charging the highest price you can justify for the product - innovate to stay competitive.
  • Focus on your most profitable customers and products.
  • Specify the right quality of supplies and negotiate favourable prices - monitor competing supplier offers.
  • Monitor and control overhead costs and eliminate unnecessary activities.
  • Maximise the cost-effectiveness of assets. Base purchasing on lifetime costs and sell unnecessary assets (or sub-let surplus capacity).
  • Recruit the right employees. Provide a working environment, training and motivation which maximise their effectiveness.
  • Create systems to reduce errors and wasted time. Create policies to reduce the need for managers to repeatedly make the same decisions.
  • Invest in information technology and other labour-saving equipment.
  • Share best practice across the company.

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