The Essential Business Guide is packed full of information and resources for small business owners. Each section in the Guide contains a list of business support websites, organisations, magazines and books to help you start and run your business.
Some of these resources are included on this page, within the sections below – click on any of these links to be taken directly to that part of the page:
- Planning and starting a business
- Running and managing a business
- Marketing and selling
- Money and legal issues
We are always looking for new organisations or resources to help your micro or small business grow and thrive. If you discover a useful resource or website then please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We check our links regularly, but if you discover that one isn’t working, please tell us by emailing email@example.com and we’ll sort it out as quickly as possible.
There’s so much to think about when you start your new business and it can all feel a bit daunting at times. Luckily, there are lots of people to support and guide you through the process. You wouldn’t set out on a journey without a clear idea of where you are now, where you are going and how you plan to get there. Planning your business is no different. You need to have a clear idea of exactly where you are heading and how you plan to reach your goals.
Browse the list below for organisations and publications to help you.
The Planning section of The Essential Business Guide is designed to provide useful information to keep you on the right track and focused, and The Essential Start-up Guide also contains resources and information to help you start your business.
British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) – local chambers represent the interests, and support the competitiveness and growth, of all businesses in their community.
Business Gateway – offers support and advice to small businesses based in Scotland.
Business Support Helpline – Backed by the UK Government, this helpline offers free business support and signposting.
Business and self-employed – this useful page on the .Gov.uk website lists organisations offering support and advice to businesses and the self-employed.
Business Wales – provides advice and support to businesses in Wales.
Companies House – all limited companies in the UK are registered with Companies House.
The Crafts Council – provides financial, business and professional support.
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) – the department responsible for Government policy regarding small business.
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – information on services and benefits for people of working age, including those starting a business.
Enterprise Nation – community that supports businesses from start up to growth.
Entrepreneurial Spark – business accelerator focusing on the business owner, helping build skills and resilience.
Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) – a campaigning pressure group promoting and protecting the interests of the self employed and owners of small firms.
Food Standards Agency (FSA) – information for anyone with a business that involves handling food.
Forum of Private Business (FPB) – lobbies on behalf of small and medium-sized businesses.
Home Business Alliance – support for starting and expanding a home-based business.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) – responsible for collecting the bulk of tax revenue as well as paying tax credits and child benefit (formerly Inland Revenue).
Invest Northern Ireland – provides advice and support to businesses in Northern Ireland.
National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) – offers support to explore new ideas, develop new products and services or experiment with new ways of nurturing creativity in science, technology and the arts.
National Enterprise Network (NEN) – a membership body for organisations involved in the support and development of enterprise, including enterprise agencies and specialist enterprise providers, universities and corporate organisations.
Startup Britain – created by business owners, for business owners providing resources and events for people wanting to start a business.
The Prince’s Trust – provides loans and grants to young people between 18 and 30 years old who want to start or develop their own business.
Trade Association Forum – provides information about UK trade associations.
Your everyday decisions are what will end up determining your overall business direction and they shouldn’t be taken lightly. The practical things – where you will base yourself, what insurance cover you need, how you’ll build relationships with your customers – are the nuts and bolts of your business. Browse the list below for organisations and publications to help you.
The Managing section of The Essential Business Guide also provides useful information about organisations who can help you build and grow your business.
British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) – local chambers represent the interests of member businesses in their local community.
BSI British Standards – provides a guide about British Standards for small businesses.
UK Trade & Investment – supports firms in the UK looking to trade internationally.
British Franchise Association (BFA) – a professional membership organisation for franchise businesses. The BFA runs seminars for people thinking of franchising their own business.
Whichfranchise.com – a directory of franchise opportunities in the UK.
The Carbon Trust – provides free advice on reducing your energy costs and waste management.
Environment Agency UK – the public body for protecting and improving the environment in England and Wales.
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) – the public body for protecting and improving the environment in Scotland.
Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) – the public body for protecting and improving the environment in Northern Ireland.
Wrap – free advice and support on practical ways to minimise waste and reduce environmental impact.
British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) – offers a ‘Find a Broker’ service on their website.
Business in the Community – encourages business and communities to work together to help them grow and develop.
Confederation of British Industry (CBI) – a lobbying organisation for UK business to help create the conditions in which businesses can grow.
Chartered Management Institute (CMI) – offers a range of support, advice, training and resources for managers.
Eureka – represents 40 member countries to promote international research and innovation across Europe through projects and public-private partnerships.
Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) – a membership organisation for individuals and organisations involved in small business and entrepreneurship research policy, and support.
Institute of Directors (IoD) – a membership organisation for company directors providing information, advice, training and publications.
The Prince’s Trust – provides loans and grants to young people between 18 and 30 years old who want to start or develop their own business.
Trade Association Forum – provides a directory of trade associations.
Company Shortcuts – offers business templates and daily business tips to help you build and grow your business.
Everywoman – an online network and resource for women business owners.
Freelancers in the UK – provides help and information on freelancing plus an online directory of freelancers.
First Voice – the official magazine of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
Management Today – a magazine devoted to management issues. The website contains many useful resources and articles.
Marketing is all about getting the right people to buy from your business. That means finding out who those people are, how you can reach them and what it will take to persuade them to part with their cash. Browse the list below for organisations and publications to help you.
The Marketing section of The Essential Business Guide is also designed to help you with your marketing efforts.
Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) – a membership organisation for marketing professionals. Their website is a useful resource with downloadable documents on topics such as copyright, data protection, and so on. An online marketing plan tool takes you through the creation of your own marketing plan.
Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) – is a membership organisation for PR professionals. The website provides an online directory of PR professionals.
Direct Marketing Association (DMA) – Europe’s largest trade association in the marketing and communications sector.
Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – includes information to help you comply with the legislation and publishes detailed guidance notes that provide all the information you need about electronic marketing.
Business Companion provides information about trading standards and consumer protection legislation.
Direct Marketing Preference Services
Mailing Preference Service – allows consumers to register so as not to receive unsolicited direct mail.
Email Preference Service – allows people to register an email address in order not to receive unsolicited sales and marketing email messages.
Fax Preference Service – allows consumers and businesses to register a fax number(s) so as not to receive unsolicited sales and marketing faxes.
Telephone Preference Service – allows businesses and consumers to register their telephone number so as not to receive unsolicited sales and marketing calls.
Direct Selling Association (DSA) – information and advice on direct selling in the UK.
Expertise – a series of guides for business owners looking to build their digital profile, including a useful list of over 100 free online tools.
MarketingFile.com – provides direct marketing data and services in the UK and Europe.
Office for National Statistics – free access to data published by the Office for National Statistics.
Survey Monkey – a useful tool for creating professional online surveys quickly and easily.
Facebook – although Facebook is primarily aimed at individuals, you can also create a business page. Facebook also offers tightly-targeted advertising opportunities for businesses.
Google+ – allows you to recommend content to other people in your online social network.
LinkedIn – the online networking website for professional business people. Free and paid membership levels. LinkedIn also offers targeted advertising opportunities to its members.
Twitter – allows multiple accounts so you can sign up for a personal profile as well as a business profile.
Fonts.com – a wide range of PC & Mac fonts.
The Font Pool – search the directory by category and type of font.
Getty Images – a wide range of high-quality images.
iStockphoto – low-cost royalty-free images.
Photos.com – access to hundreds of photos with one payment for unlimited downloads.
Rubberball – a stylish and unusual mix of images.
Wistia– video sharing website with good social media tools and help and support.
Vimeo – video sharing website used a lot by designers and creative professionals.
Vzaar – a UK-based website for professional video sharing and embedding.
YouTube – the ‘go to’ website for videos for your blog or website. You can also host your own videos here for embedding in your website.
Money is the lifeblood of your business and it’s crucial that you maintain a healthy circulation of cash. Keeping track of all the financial ins and outs of your business helps you make sure you pay the right tax, get paid by your customers on time and have enough cash left over at the end to make the whole thing worth it. Browse the list below for organisations and publications to help you.
The Money section of The Essential Business Guide is also designed to provide useful information to help you become and stay profitable.
ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) – provides advice on choosing an accountant and you can search online for an ACCA member or an ACCA business adviser.
British Bankers’ Association (BBA) – provides BankFacts, downloadable guides designed to provide an overview of selected banking products and services written in plain language.
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) – online directory of chartered accountants and FAQs relating to running a small business.
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) – offers an online directory of chartered accountants.
Bank of Scotland
The Royal Bank of Scotland
Grants and equity
Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA) – a trade association whose members provide factoring, invoice discounting and other lending. The site contains a Find a Finance Provider search tool to help businesses who are looking for funding.
British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA) – represents over 400 private equity and venture capital firms.
Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) – the industry body for asset finance.
Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIoT) – the professional body for chartered tax advisers. It can help you find an adviser in your area.
HM Revenue & Customs –responsible for collecting the bulk of tax revenue as well as paying tax credits and child benefit (formerly Inland Revenue).
Better Payment Practice Group – website promoting good payment practice among UK businesses. You can sign up to their better payment code of practice.
Financial Ombudsman Service – provides consumers with a free independent service for solving disputes with financial firms.
Insolvency Service – The Redundancy Payments Service is part of The Insolvency Service and deals with redundancy and associated payments in England, Wales and Scotland.
MoneyFacts – an independent website helping you make informed decisions about your finances.
Being an employer can be daunting. There’s so much you need to know about recruiting, training and managing your employees. Finding good people and getting the best out of them is vital for your business. Browse the list below for organisations and publications to help you.
The People section of The Essential Business Guide also aims to provide useful information to help you in your role as an employer.
Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) – the employment relations service that offers practical, independent and impartial advice to employers, employees and their representatives. The site has clear and useful leaflets and booklets, often free and most downloadable.
Apprenticeships – provides information on how apprenticeships can benefit businesses.
British Dyslexia Association – help and advice for employers of staff with dyslexia.
Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) – an independent organisation offering dispute resolution and mediation services.
City & Guilds – accredits vocational qualifications in the UK.
Equality and Human Rights Commission – an independent body set up by the Government to promote and monitor human rights, and to promote equality.
Health & Safety Executive (HSE)
HM Revenue & Customs (Employer Helpline)
Investors in People – the national standard that sets a code of good practice for the training and development of your staff.
Learn Direct – courses and training for business owners and employees.
The Pensions Regulator – regulates work-based pension schemes in the UK. The site contains useful information for employers about workplace pensions and how to implement them.
Skills Funding Agency – the Government agency responsible for ensuring businesses can access the skills training they need.
Workplace Law Network – provides employment law information for employers.
UK Border Agency – information and advice about employing migrant workers and European workers who have the right to work in the UK.