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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.

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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.

Government steps up action on late payment

16 September 2016

Government steps up action on late paymentThe perennial problem of late payment for small firms has prompted the Government to strengthen its Prompt Payment Code.

New measures to support the Prompt Payment Code have been confirmed in a letter sent to signatories of the code from small business minister Margot James and Philip King, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM).

More than 1,800 firms are signed up to the Prompt Payment Code, with each one committing to the fair and equal treatment of suppliers. They agree to maximum payment terms of 60 days, with the letter confirming they should aim to pay within 30 days.

If payment terms stretch beyond 60 days, companies must demonstrate that exceptional circumstances apply. These will be considered on a case-by-case basis but could include commitments made to pay smaller suppliers faster than larger businesses.

Margot James, the small business minister, said: "Prompt payment can make all the difference to small businesses, boosting their cashflow and allowing them to invest in growth for the future. Although we have seen some progress, there are still too many business owners across the country who have not been paid on time by their customers."

James has called for a "culture change to stamp this out". The Prompt Payment Code, she said, "continues to play an important role in bringing this about, alongside a package of measures taken forward by Government and industry."

The voluntary Prompt Payment Code is administered by the CICM on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The Government says new measures to strengthen the code and increase transparency have now been put in place. The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 introduced the statutory duty for large businesses to report on payment practices. This will come into force in April 2017.

In addition, the Government plans to appoint a Small Business Commissioner to provide support on payment issues and handle complaints from small businesses.

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