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Small business start-up

Are you thinking about starting your own business or are you already setting up on your own? Use our selection of books, articles, links and guides to find more information on all aspects of starting a business.

What's on this page?

  • eBooks
  • Briefings
  • Checklists
  • Online articles
  • Useful links
  • Articles and books from the Library

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Featured article

The 10 mistakes that threaten startups
There are a few common mistakes that cause new business startups to fail. Find out the top 10 routine errors, so that you can avoid making them.

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Featured book

Business start up 2016
(Pearson, 2015)
A guide to every important aspect of starting and running a business, from securing financial backing to developing customer relationships.

To borrow this book please contact the Library.


The Library provides full text access to a selection of key business and reference eBooks from leading publishers. eBooks are available to logged-in ICAEW members, ACA students and other entitled users.

Starting a successful business

Aims to cover all aspects of starting a small business. Provides advice on getting orders, making profits, raising money, legal aspects of business management, operations management, book-keeping, VAT and tax for SMEs, employing people, and risk management.

Consultant's quick start guide: an action plan for your first year in business, The

The book offers practical guidance for entrepreneurs who are considering starting a consultancy business. It helps to assess whether you have the required skills to be a successful consultant, and how to rate yourself against other entrepreneurs. It also looks at the personal, professional and financial considerations relevant to starting a small business. The book provides tips for creating business plans, finding clients, marketing and public relations.

Financial Times guide to business start up 2009, The

Aims to be a comprehensive guide to starting a small business. It includes practical guidance for entrepreneurs on developing business ideas, business operations, employer obligations, taxes, and the role of information technology in marketing and PR.

Growing business handbook: inspiration and advice from successful entrepreneurs and fast growing UK companies, The

The book contains chapters on business planning for growth, gaining market share, people management, cash management, information technology for businesses, SMEs, operations management, international expanision, mergers and acquisitions, and obtaining growth capital.

Showing 4 of 7 items

Terms of use: You are permitted to access, download, copy, or print out content from eBooks for your own research or study only, subject to the terms of use set by our suppliers and any restrictions imposed by individual publishers. Please see individual supplier pages for full terms of use.


Briefings are four-page guides written for the busy practitioner, director and entrepreneur providing concise, practical advice on core business issues.

Setting up an office


In a well set-up office, the equipment, the systems and the environment all contribute to making you and your business more efficient. Instead of cobbling together your office as you go along, plan it properly from the start.

Disclaimer: These publications from Atom Content Marketing are for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.


The How To Do It guides from Atom Content Marketing are a collection of checklists providing a step-by-step approach to key business issues. Access to these guides is available to logged-in ICAEW members, ACA students and other entitled users.

Choose the right form of business

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When you’re setting up in business it’s essential to choose the right legal structure. Though you can change your legal form in the future, this will take time and money.

Decide if running a business is for you

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Starting and running your own business is one of the most exciting choices anyone can make. Millions have done so successfully and found it an exhilarating and rewarding challenge. However, starting a business brings its downsides and its risks, so it’s important to think about all the implications of your decision.

Finance your start up business

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Establishing a solid financial base for your business should be one of the first tasks every start-up turns to. Whatever kind of business you’re setting up — from a one-person operation based at home, to a high-tech manufacturing plant — you need to be clear about how much money you’re going to need and where you’re going to get it.

Get help setting up and running your business

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Starting and running your own business can be exciting and fulfilling. But it can also be a daunting challenge. You'll need to look after a whole range of different issues, from financing the business and winning new customers to making sure you are meeting your legal obligations. Even if you've already got business experience, you're likely to need to learn new skills pretty quickly. With so much to deal with, you can feel pretty isolated, particularly if you are starting the business on your own.

Disclaimer: These publications from Atom Content Marketing are for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

Online articles

The library provides access to a range of articles in full text from leading business, finance and management journals. Access to articles is provided to logged-in ICAEW members, ACA students and other entitled users subject to suppliers' terms of use.

The 10 mistakes that threaten startups

There are a few common mistakes that cause new business startups to fail. Learn about these top 10 routine errors - such as confusing a product with a business, not paying for expertise and scaling too quickly - so that you can avoid making them.

Who owns the business?

From PLCs and private equity to crowdfunding and co-operatives, there are now so many ways to run a company it's hard to know which way to turn. Which type of ownership is best, and for whom? Jeremy Hazlehurst and Jack Torrance navigate the ownership maze, assessing the pros and cons of 10 different business structures.

The entrepreneur abroad

Starting a business overseas may seem daunting — but the rewards can be great. Here's what you need to know to find success as an entrepreneurial expat.

Showing 3 of 11 items

Useful links


How you can help SMEs boost growth 
A blog post by ICAEW Chief Executive Michael Izza on the ICAEW's pro-bono Business Advice Service, which allows SMEs to receive a free advice session from an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.

Special report: Starting a business 
An ICAEW Finance and Management Faculty 2013 report aimed at people starting their own business. Covers areas of concern to both new and established businesses, including marketing, employment law, funding sources and the basics of establishing a presence on the web.

Starting your business 
This ICAEW website section offers advice to start-ups, including practical information on tax, legal issues, essential accounting records, insurance and more. It shows you how to find a chartered accountant participating in the ICAEW Business Advice Service – and receive an initial consultation at no charge.

Creative Industries - Routes to Finance
A funding guide for creative organisations from ICAEW’s Corporate Finance Faculty, supported by the Creative Industries Federation and 52 organisations in the UK’s creative economy. It is the first comprehensive and bespoke guide to finance for Britain’s creative industries.

Government resources and reports

A guide to government support for small businesses 
A quick guide to government support for SMEs from Clive Lewis, ICAEW Head of Enterprise.

Help and support for businesses (HMRC) 
Information about the range of support HMRC offers to business start-ups and small businesses. Here you will find guidance on what you need to do for tax and National Insurance purposes when you start up a business as a self employed person, a partnership or a limited company. There is information on return filing and paying deadlines and what records you must keep.

Small business: GREAT ambition 
A December 2013 Department for Business, Innovation & Skills report promoting the government support available for small businesses. Highlights financing schemes and changes being made to simplify and reduce legislation affecting SMEs.

Growing your business: a report on growing micro businesses 
This May 2013 review by Lord Young (a follow-up to his 2012 'Make business your business' report below) investigates the reasons why SMEs struggle to grow, including confidence to develop during tough economic times, strength of ambition, capability and skills, coherence of help on offer and opening up government procurement to SMEs.

Make business your business: Supporting the start-up and development of small businesses 
Report by Lord Young, the Prime Minister’s adviser on small business and enterprise, which was published in May 2012. It provides 'an assessment of the landscape for supporting entrepreneurs and new businesses including help and advice on offer from the public and private sectors'. 

Two practical guides for start-up businesses were published with the report:

Setting up a business (Gov.uk) 
Comprehensive guidance from the government on starting a new business. There are many links and resources, including the Business Support Helplines, which offer support and advice over the phone. When you have set up your new business, there are useful tips to help the growth of your company – there is guidance on finding finance, mentors, increasing sales and developing products and services.

Small businesses and the UK economy
A House of Commons Library briefing note presenting statistics on small businesses in the UK and information on government policies designed to benefit small businesses. 

Other sources of information

The British Library: Business & IP Centre 
The British Library's Business and Intellectual Property (IP) Centre incorporates services and information aimed at entrepreneurs and small business owners, including expert advisers to talk through your ideas and a wide range of essential information to help you research your market and start your own business.

The independently run ByteStart site aims to give "no-nonsense" advice and news on starting and running a small UK business.

Cobweb is an independent publisher of practical and easy to understand information for business start-ups and small business owners, and for the advisers, professionals, and organisations that guide and support them.

Complete Business Reference Adviser (COBRA) 
COBRA is a comprehensive, versatile and continually updated research resource from Cobweb for business advisers, information professionals and support agencies who are advising or working with start ups and small business owners. (Subscription required)

ICAS Guide to starting a business 
A step by step guide to starting and financing a new business. It has been written by ICAS members who have set up or invested in successful new businesses.

QuickBooks Small Business Centre
Comprehensive collection of guides and tips hosted by Intuit QuickBooks on starting and running a small business. A UK-based version of the portal is also available.

Online resource for those starting or running a small business. The website includes startup guides for over 50 different business sectors, business startup news, case studies of successful business startups and a forum to share your ideas with others in your situation.

Tom's Law: Legal Documents Online (FiSMA) 
An online library of legal templates relevant to entrepreneurs and investors from not for profit organisation FiSMA. The site aims to 'facilitate communications between entrepreneurs and investors' and has been developed by Tom Mackay, former head of the legal department of the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Included in the collection are draft documents covering AIM companies, incorporation, company administration, confidentiality, employment and the sale and purchase of shares. The site includes a warning notice that should be read before using any of the documents in the collection. Registration is required to access some of the documents.

Small business organisations in the UK

Federation of Small Businesses 
The 'UK's largest campaigning pressure group promoting and protecting the interests of the self-employed and owners of small firms.' The FSB publishes the annual Voice of Small Business Survey in cooperation with ICM Research which 'seeks the small business perspective on key issues from the economy to employment'. The FSB and CEBR also publish the quarterly Voice of Small Business Index which provides 'a macro-economic picture of the UK economy from the point of view of the small business owner'. The index looks at employment, revenues and the confidence of small firms and provides information on regional businesses with a breakdown by sector across the UK.

Forum of Private Business 
Not-for-profit membership organisation which provides guidance and support for SMEs and aims to 'represent small businesses views and be their voice in government'.

Institute for Family Business
The IFB is an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation supporting the UK family-owned business sector. It aims to 'promote the vital contribution that long-term family businesses make to the UK economy and the issues that family firms face' and offers courses, conferences and research publications.

British Chambers of Commerce 
The website of the network of Chambers of Commerce across the UK provides information on their activities and a tool to find your local Chamber of Commerce.

Business Population Estimates for the UK and Regions 
Annual statistics on SMEs in the UK published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Previously called 'Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Statistics for the UK and Regions'.

Small business organisations in Europe and worldwide

European Commission: Internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs 
Portal for EC information and resources for SMEs, with business-related links and guides to EU legislation and financing programmes.

Doing Business (World Bank) 
Laws and business regulations, country profiles and economic rankings for 183 countries compiled by the World Bank for SMEs. The Starting a business section provides information on the procedures, time and cost involved in launching a new firm in each of the countries covered.

To find out how you can borrow books from the Library please see our guide to book loans.
You can obtain copies of articles or extracts of books and reports by post, fax or email through our document supply service.

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