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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.

What's stopping small firms from achieving net zero carbon?

27 April 2021

As the government announces ambitious climate change targets, a new poll has found that many businesses are not sure how to reduce their carbon footprint.

The UK government has set in law a new target to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. This will bring the UK more than three-quarters of the way to net zero carbon by 2050.

A new survey of over 700 members of the Institute of Directors (IoD) has found that four in five directors (83%) agree that it is important for their organisation to operate in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. However, only one in four of those polled (24%) say they fully understand the way in which their organisation can lower its carbon footprint and meet net zero carbon goals. Additionally, a third of members feel that the costs associated with moving towards net zero goals in their organisation are prohibitive.

"The battle against climate change has quickly become one of the biggest challenges businesses face today," said Joe Fitzsimons, IoD senior policy advisor. "Sustainability is an important priority for IoD members, and as many businesses join the efforts to decrease their carbon footprint, it is vital they have access to the necessary resources and tools."

The IoD is calling on the government to do more to inform and incentivise UK firms. "Uncertainty among businesses in overcoming both the costs and the methods required to reduce their carbon footprint proves the necessity for government-led action," said Fitzsimons. "An attainable long-term strategy including green investment incentives, improved access to relevant expertise, and funded reskilling in environmental best practices would be welcomed by businesses committed to navigating sustainability goals … it is imperative that the government does all it can to help alleviate the practical hurdles they encounter."

An online tool has been specifically designed to help small firms find ways to reduce their carbon footprints. The Your Carbon Calculator created by Small99 asks business owners 30 questions, covering everything from supply chains to how employees get to work. Once completed, the tool provides users with an overview of their scores, highlighting where they can make the most improvements.

"Too many small businesses are struggling to find practical advice that actually applies to how their business operates," said Adam Bastock from Small99.

"Getting wrapped up in measurements and numbers takes the focus off making practical decisions … in fact, we often see that a barrier to change is fear of doing something wrong.

"We want to inspire business owners, not put them off. To do so, we need to look at the total carbon budget of the company. From the cars staff are driving to work, to their delivery vans, to what their waste recycling looks like and materials used in their packaging."

Written by Rachel Miller.