It’s customary at this time of year to both reflect on the previous 12 months and to look ahead to 2015. My colleague Ronnie Brown has already given his thoughts on 2015’s digital trends, so I wanted to reflect on some of our most popular and insightful articles, videos and infographics we’ve published on Hiscox Informed over the course of 2014.

So, below, here’s a month by month look at some of your favourite posts and some of the pieces of advice other small business owners have told us they’ve found particularly useful.

And if you’re simply looking for a guide to the right insurance for your business, our plain-speaking explanations of what is public liability and how much professional indemnity insurance you may need are always popular.

January

Our Hiscox Digital Guides from Group Marketing Manager Ronnie Brown on all aspects of digital marketing from LinkedIn to pay-per-click advertising have proven enduringly popular over the course of the year. You can see Ronnie’s guides here.

Meanwhile, a new year often means a desire to find new means to promote your business. Head of Media for Start-Up Britain and Enterprise Nation’s Lizzie Slee offered advice on bootstrapping your PR to better promote your business.

February

Whether you’re a freelancer, a business owner or part of an SME, working from home is increasingly playing a big part of our working culture. Judy Heminsley from Work From Home Wisdom had a number of tips for those of us who make our home our office.

Meanwhile, Darren Fell from Crunch Accounting shared his advice on one of the most crucial aspects of working for yourself – cash flow – and how to ensure you don’t run out.

March

One of the most popular pieces on Hiscox Informed this year has been our exploration of the risks of working with friends and family. It can be tempting to bring in those close to you as you grow, but as our article shows, it comes with plenty of risk, especially if the relationship turns sour

March was also when we launched our Small Business Stars feature – a weekly profile of a small business owner, the challenges they’ve faced and the risks they’ve taken. Every small business is different, but it can be helpful hearing from others who’ve been in a similar situation. You can see all our Small Business Stars here.

April

What does Rihanna have to do with copyright and professional indemnity insurance? Hiscox’s Sam Newman looked at several real life examples for World Intellectual Property Day that showed just how easy to can be to infringe a trademark.

It can be tempting to attempt to do everything when running a business, but there are areas that it can make sense to outsource. In a guest column for us, SJD Accountancy’s Claire Johnson detailed when you may need to hand your books over to a qualified accountant.

May

What government support is available for small businesses? At the start of May we looked at the official sources entrepreneurs can turn to for a little extra help.

Are entrepreneurs born or made? At our spring debate at the Royal Institution, a panel made up of CEO of the Centre for Entrepreneurs Luke Johnson, CEO of Pall-Ex Hilary Devey and Gallup’s Andrew Green attempted to answer just what is the DNA of an entrepreneur. You can watch the highlights and key points from the debate below.

 

June

You don’t need a boardroom table to have goals. As the World Cup kicked off, we looked at how small businesses can set goals, with the help of Olympian and business coach Ben Hunt-Davis. Ben talked us through the importance of setting a crazy goal for your business and how you can achieve what may seem unattainable.

June was London Tech Week and amongst the events, talks and start-ups, some of the real action took place at the networking events behind the scenes. Talented Heads’ Natalie Waterworth guided us through how to make connections for your small business, even if you’re the type of person who would rather gravitate towards a corner.

July

Hiring the right intern can make a world of difference to your small business. Get the right person, and they can add plenty of value to a small team. Rajeeb Dey, founder of specialist intern and graduate jobs company Enternships took us through how to find the right intern and, crucially, how to sell your company to them.

Murphy’s Law says if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. It’s how you handle these events that can define you as a small business owner. Three start-ups founders talked us through their worst moments and how these came to make their business even stronger.

August

Six months after the UK’s wettest winter ever, which saw nearly 6,000 homes and businesses flooded, we looked at the steps small business can take – from risk assessments to business interruption insurance – to ensure they minimise any damage from the events.

One of the greatest fears of any small business is a late or non-paying client. What may seem like a small amount to your client could have a significant effect on your cash flow. We looked at the steps you can take to chase a late payment, from pre-contracts through to following up on your invoices.

September

September saw our annual DNA of an Entrepreneur Report, providing a snapshot of the challenges and attitudes of small businesses across Europe. One finding was a new breed of business owners, who had started their businesses during the economic downturn. We dubbed these young, innovative entrepreneurs Generation Recession.

Also published in September was the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 list of the UK’s fastest growing tech companies. FinTech firm LMAX Exchange topped the list, but, as Hiscox’s Matthew Webb explained, there was also a surge in demand for cloud computing and cyber security firms.

The more knocks you take the more respect you earn. This month saw the launch of our School of Hard Knocks series, exploring what businesses could learn from tough times. This included advice from start-up incubator Ignite on the common mistakes new businesses make, to a personal story from craft start-up Mastered, who changed the focus of their entire business, and advice from Hiscox’s Kate Markham on how to avoid taking your business into heartbreaking mediocrity.

October

The most popular piece of advice on Hiscox Informed this year was from founder of The Freelance Lifestyle Emma Cossey on how to raise your prices and keep your clients happy. Emma’s guide took you through everything from when and why you may need to raise your prices and how to deliver this news to a client.

Contractors often face some unique challenges, from finding their next role, to avoiding mistakenly breaching a client’s IP. As part of a special series for contractors, Hiscox claims specialist Chris Charlton examined the most common claims against IT contractors and how to prevent them.

November

The new year often means tax return season for many freelancers and small businesses as they rush to get their self-assessment forms in before the January deadline. If you’re unsure if you need to create a tax return or what the key dates and numbers are, Easy Accountancy provided us with a simple infographic on everything you need to know about a self assessment tax return.

Image rights can be one of the most complicated aspects of intellectual property law, especially if you’re working in the media, marketing and PR world. Hiscox Sam Newman shows us, with a little help from Rod Stewart, why it’s important to do due diligence on your image rights.

December

This was the month we introduced our new expert columnists to Hiscox Informed. IT expert, and veteran of the start-up world, Mike Briercliffe discussed the importance of data security in a world of increasingly disruptive technology, while former BBC journalist turned social media trainer Sue Llewellyn looked at why so many companies embark on social activity without a proper plan.

Do you know when your professional indemnity cover starts from? In a practical guide to a technical industry term, Hiscox’s Sam Newman looked at the retroactive date and it’s importance to understanding what you are covered for.

As ever, we love to hear your opinions, so do let us know in the comments below if there’s anything you’d like to see us cover on this site. And if you need to contact us about your business insurance, you can see all contact details and Christmas opening times here.

From all of us at Hiscox, we’d like to wish you a very Happy Christmas and New Year. Here’s to a successful 2015.