This year the Start Up Donut has published the best part of 200 blogs. Many thanks to everyone who has produced content – we appreciate your willingness to share you knowledge, experience and opinions and look forward to receiving more in 2012. A bewildering array of topics have been covered on our blog in 2011. Here, for your delight, is a mere sample of the advice and information that was offered…
1. "Always employ the best you can afford. Spending extra on wages for certain skills or talents can be the difference between 5 per cent and 20 per cent growth in a start-up's early years" – Six need-to-know start-up tips.
2. "Research by Regus suggests the number of UK businesses who would take on working mums has fallen significantly. More than 1,000 UK businesses were surveyed and only 26 per cent said they would hire a woman with children, compared with 38 per cent last year" – Who'd be a working mum, eh?
3. "Not being able to pay yourself in anything other than extraordinary circumstances is the first real sign that something is wrong. If having enough money to pay yourself becomes a persistent problem – close the business down and get a ‘proper' job" – Is your business in trouble?
4. "Many online stores offer free delivery for larger purchases, which can be a real incentive to add some extra goodies to the shopping cart. If your visitors cannot see your delivery prices clearly, you risk them shopping elsewhere" – Three common e-commerce mistakes to avoid.
5. "Even if your primary motive in starting up isn't to get rich, profit is vital. Think of profit as oxygen – without it, your business won't survive" – Two tips to make a billion.
6. "If you want to raise money, think long and hard about how you can persuade the potential source that the risk is low and the reward is likely to be high" – Things you should know about finance, risk and reward.
7. "Only start a business if you genuinely have a passion for the idea. I've seen too many businesses struggle only for the owner to give up because they don't have the necessary passion or motivation" – Five common start-up mistakes.
8. "Small businesses should aim high, but don't overstretch yourself or try to run before you can walk. Grow your business on profit – not on loans" – Seek to grow your business on profit – not loans.
9. "Much like the giant boxer undone by his faster, smaller opponent, a start-up can take advantage of market movements far quicker than larger competitors who often cannot make decisions without approval from ‘on high'" – Two ways start-ups can outperform the big fish.
10. "Malicious fraudsters have now started targeting .uk domain names with falsified domain expiry warnings. Many of those who fall for this con are small firms" – Protect your business from common email scams.
11. "Dropbox is a virtual hard drive. No matter where you are, as long you have synced with the cloud-based tool, you can access your files. It's also great for sharing files without having to worry about emailing large attachments. Dropbox offers free and paid hosting solutions and is a must have for any start-up" – My top ten favourite web applications and tools.
12. "There may be the opportunity to sell your sole trader business to your limited company. In doing this you may realise significant tax savings" – Should you turn your sole trader business into a limited company?
13. "Gone are the days when customers didn't talk to each other. Today, they're always talking to each other online. And as the marketing author Seth Godin has said: ‘the internet does not forget'" – Six key trends to bear in mind when planning your business.
14. "Listen to your team. They are the eyes and ears of your business. If you employ intelligent people, you should listen to them" – Essential advice for new businesses.
15. "In Suriname, on South America's north east coast, according to the World Bank, it takes a mind-boggling 694 days to register a company. During that time there are 13 bureaucratic steps to negotiate (unlucky for some, indeed)" – Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Mark Williams is a freelance journalist and editor of Start Up Donut.