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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.

Government scheme to give SMEs discounts on software

25 January 2022

The Help to Grow: Digital scheme has opened for applications, providing small businesses with discounts of up to £5,000 on approved software as well as advice on digital skills.

The new Help to Grow: Digital scheme offers eligible small businesses discounts of up to £5,000 off the retail price of approved digital accounting and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software from leading technology suppliers.

According to data from the Enterprise Research Centre, businesses that use CRM systems see on average an 18% boost to their productivity and those that adopt digital accounting software see a 12% increase in sales over three years.

The approved suppliers in the first wave of Help to Grow: Digital are:

Eligible businesses will receive one financial discount towards the purchase of one approved software product up to a maximum of £5,000 (not including VAT) in either CRM and digital accounting. The government is also looking to bring on further products under the scheme, including ecommerce software to help firms maximise their sales online.

To be eligible, small firms must have between five and 249 employees and the business must be purchasing the approved software for the first time. Eligible firms must have a registered office in the UK and be registered at Companies House. They must have been actively trading for over 12 months and have an incorporation date of, at minimum, 365 days prior to the date of application.

Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak said: "When I announced this at Budget I said we wanted to help businesses become more innovative, more competitive and more profitable and I am excited this programme allows them do that. Help to Grow: Digital will help them to grow and flourish by adopting new technologies that are proven to improve processes and boost productivity, levelling up their digital technology and skills."

The scheme has been welcomed by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). National chair Mike Cherry said: "We're encouraging as many eligible small firms to apply and make the most of this new scheme. Small businesses are often keen to embrace new technologies, but we know that one in four lack confidence in their own basic digital skills … Our own research has shown that just 40% of small business owners have used applications like cloud services and online data storage or back-up. It's crucial that practical changes like this scheme are put in place to help small firms adopt digital technologies, making improvements to their own business and driving growth."

Under the scheme, businesses can also access practical, specialised support and advice on how to choose the right digital technologies to boost their growth and productivity through a new online platform.

Welcoming the scheme, Paul Struthers, UK&I managing director of Sage, expressed his hopes that Help to Grow: Digital will be expanded to reach more businesses. "As the scheme rolls out over the next three years, we encourage the government to allow more flexibility in the number of products available, and widen the scope to allow sole traders and the smallest of businesses to benefit from digitisation too."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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