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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.

Purchasing effectively - checklist

Effective purchasing practices can make the difference between business profit and loss. Our helpful checklist explains how to get the best from your purchases.

  • Make purchasing part of business planning and budgeting and consider purchasing issues when developing products and planning production.
  • Focus on high-priority purchases — those on which you spend most and those which are most important to your business.
  • Decide how to organise purchasing, and who will be authorised to purchase which supplies; set individual purchasing limits.
  • Specify what you need, such as product features, quality and reliability, delivery schedules, guarantees and support.
  • For asset purchases, identify lifetime costs (eg maintenance and consumables); consider alternatives such as outsourcing, purchasing second-hand and leasing.
  • Identify potential suppliers; ask for recommendations.
  • Get quotes based on your specification; compare them in terms of the factors which matter most to you.
  • Investigate the reputation and financial stability (for a long-term relationship) of your favoured supplier; if appropriate, ask for references.
  • Negotiate pricing and terms and agree the contract.
  • Introduce systematic ordering for raw materials and other consumables, based on stock levels and forecasts of supply needs.  
  • Set up systems for checking deliveries and dealing with errors, for storing and monitoring stock and for handling invoices and other paperwork.
  • Consolidate purchasing with a small number of suppliers but avoid over-dependence on a single supplier.
  • Build relationships with key suppliers; keep them informed of your needs, and co-operate to handle problems and suggest improvements.
  • Regularly review supplier performance on key issues such as quality, price, reliability and service; keep track of competing supply offers.

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