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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
  • 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.

You will need to be logged-in to the website to access the full range of articles available online.

Featured book

Business start up 2017/18
(Pearson, 2016)
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. If you are unable to access an eBook, please see our Help and support advice or contact library@icaew.com.

Financial Times guide to business start up 2017/18

Startup guide for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Starting a successful business

Step-by-step guide to starting and running a small business.

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

A guide to working as a consultant from a US perspective.

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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 from Atom Content Marketing written for the busy practitioner, director and entrepreneur providing concise, practical advice on core business issues.

Finance your start-up business


Establishing a solid financial base for your new business is essential. You need to be clear about how much money you are going to need and where to find it.

Forming a business


Whether you are forming your first business or adding to an existing one, it pays to set it up correctly. Choosing the wrong business structure exposes you to unnecessary costs and risks.

Role of the company secretary


The company secretary acts as the chief administrative officer of the company, and shares various responsibilities with the directors under the Companies Act. Private companies are no longer obliged to appoint a company secretary, although most companies continue to do so.

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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 what they are 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. 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 Business 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.

Business incubators and accelerators: the national picture
A 2017 BEIS research paper on the current UK landscape. The page also includes a directory of business incubators and accelerators.

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 and growing a new business. There are many links and resources, including the Business Support Helplines and the Small Business Forum. Here you can find 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.

Can't find what you are looking for?

If you're having trouble finding the information you need, ask the Library & Information Service. Contact us by telephone on +44 (0)20 7920 8620, by web chat or by email at library@icaew.com.

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