Do you know what the Class 1 National Insurance Contributions threshold is for employees? Answer: £72 a week. Do you know how few employees you must have in order to be exempt from the new Stakeholders Pension scheme? Answer: No more than four. What's the new qualifying period on paid annual leave entitlement? Answer: There isn't one any more ­ the qualifying period has just been removed so workers are entitled to annual leave from day one. How old does one of your shoplifters have to be before they can be charged with a criminal offence in an adult court? Answer: 17 years old. I could continue for the entire column and come nowhere near exhausting the list of Things You Need to Know to be a retailer. You wear many hats and are subject to countless rules and regulations. I need not remind most of you that more than 300 types of inspectors have the right to examine aspects of the way you run your business. And being on top of the mountain of red tape won't automatically make you successful, just less likely to be prosecuted. Most independent retailers could do with a host of professional helpers ­ accountants, stocktakers, a resident computer technician, a security guard and a good lawyer. But few can afford even one. However, research from Barclays Bank shows that small businesses using support services are far more likely to succeed and be profitable than those that do not. On the day this is being written (October 12) the DTI begins a two-day conference in Cardiff entitled Top Class Business Support Services, supported by the Small Business Service (SBS), the European Commission and the National Assembly for Wales among others. Chief executive of the SBS David Irwin will tell 400 delegates, including politicians and policy makers: "Small firms that use business support services are on average 20% more likely to stay in business after 30 months than those that don't. "They also have a higher turnover, are twice as likely to have bank loans, and if they do fail, they're half as likely to fold with debts." Irwin says that the SBS is determined to provide the most comprehensive support available through its Business Link Network. This is good news because the SBS has been highly criticised in its short life by several trade associations (including the Association of Convenience Stores) for knowing very little about retailing, even though retailers account for 15% of the small business sector. Well, fingers crossed that there will be big improvements. Business Link offices offer financial advice, answers to employment law questions, training, marketing and diagnostic advice and more specialist services such as technology, e-commerce and design. So try them out. For the office operating closest to you ring the signpost' number 0845 600 9006. {{GROCER CLUB }}