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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.

Using performance indicators - checklist

Key performance indicators, or KPIs, can help you measure how your business is performing in particular areas, so you can track and improve this over time.

  • Focus on the areas which affect profitability and cash flow - sales, costs and working capital.
  • Identify the key drivers which significantly affect performance. These might include factors which have a major influence on quality, customer satisfaction and costs.
  • Monitor indicators which reflect your strategic goals. If you aim to expand your customer base, track the number of new enquiries.
  • Look for indicators which are measurable, such as number of complaints - rather than qualitative assessments such as 'customer satisfaction'.
  • Aim for direct indicators, but use indirect ones if necessary. For example, absenteeism as an indicator of employee motivation.
  • Look for indicators which can be targeted either by comparison with historical performance or by benchmarking them against other companies.
  • Consider indicators which demonstrate efficiency. Monitor defect ratios, levels of production wastage, the conversion rate of new enquiries into sales and delivery time, for example.
  • Focus on a small number of key indicators to monitor at board level; leave more detailed, subsidiary indicators to individual managers to monitor.
  • Identify any external drivers - such as foreign exchange rates - which need monitoring but are beyond your control.
  • Decide how frequently to monitor each indicator. Some figures - such as the cost of premises - might only be reviewed annually, while sales progress, cash flow and credit control should be reviewed weekly or even daily.
  • Present the information in a way that demonstrates the trends and highlights the significant variations. Using graphs or charts can be particularly effective.
  • Dig deeper into areas where performance levels have changed unexpectedly to identify the reasons behind the change.

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