Five big mistakes small businesses must avoid in 2016

There’s a lot to contend with these days if you’re running a small business. When trying to keep all the balls in the air, it’s not surprising that things occasionally slip through the cracks. But there are some issues looming this year that need to be tackled head-on.

Here are five major manholes to avoid to make sure that when you’re smiling on the Christmas photos, you’re not crying inside.


Mistake 1: Not being found on Google search

Here’s a really valuable quick-fix you can do yourself in 30 minutes online.
If you win at local search, you win at Google. Here’s how.


Mistake 2: Ignoring workplace pensions auto enrolment

It’s law. It can’t be ignored and doing so could be very expensive.
One of biggest challenges that many small firms may overlook this year is workplace pensions auto enrolment. Even you only have one employee, you will soon have to provide the option of a workplace pension for that staff member. Failure to comply will result in steep fines, so don’t get caught out.

First, check the date by which you must comply with the legislation – this is known as you staging date. The Pensions Regulator recommends small businesses start planning 12 months ahead of staging, so act fast. Take your time to select a pension provider and seek help if you need it. Check out this short 2 minute film which will tell you everything you need to know.


Mistake 3: Not looking beyond your bank for finance

Funding, grants, investors – there is more than one way to fund your dreams…
Bank lending to smaller companies hasn’t fully recovered since the economic downturn, but the good news is alternatives do exist.

About 20,000 SMEs raised alternative finance through online channels last year, whether it was crowd funding, peer-to-peer loans, asset finance, or donation-based giving. In 2016, alternative finance providers are tipped to handle more than £5 billion of financing according to research from innovation charity Nesta.

When it comes to finance, it certainly pays to think beyond the obvious.


Mistake 4: Ignoring the National Living Wage

It’s the law, it can’t be ignored.
Introduced in April 2016, the living wage requires companies to pay those aged over 25 a minimum of £7.20 an hour – 50p more than the current National Minimum Wage. Then, the rate increases incrementally to £9 an hour by 2020. It’s a big hike for companies in sectors with large, relatively unskilled workforces, and associated low wages. But, it’s the law and, like auto enrolment, it can’t be ignored.


Mistake 5: Missing out on the best staff

Competition for top talent is tough, make your business stand out.
Businesses often talk about their people being their greatest asset and there’s more than a hint of truth in this. Even if a company is small, it must invest in its workforce, so never skimp on employee training. Grow your own talent, hiring in youngsters and graduates, then develop their skills for the longer-term. And don’t forget the thorny issues of pay and benefits.

If you genuinely value your staff – seen through rewards or simple fair treatment – they will be more loyal, productive, and provide a better product or service for customers. And such good practice will enhance your reputation making top tier recruits eager to work for you, regardless of your size.

Side step these big mistakes so you can sit back and enjoy a merry Christmas in 2016!

For more information on workplace pensions auto enrolment visit or call 0330 10 033 36.

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