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Top 10 Ways Small Businesses Can Save Money

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Even with prospects improving for businesses in the UK, it’s still vitally important to keep down costs and look for savings. Small businesses are particularly sensitive to increases in overheads, so reviewing your outgoings every few months is essential. To help, here are ten expense-busting ideas to streamline your business:

1. Hire freelancers. With responsibilities (and costs) growing when it comes to hiring permanent staff, a more flexible – and often cheaper – option is using freelancers. Websites such as PeoplePerHour and ODesk allow you to browse freelancers, create proposals and assess the perfect candidate.

Decide if you want to hire internationally or exclusively from the UK. International freelancers might be cheaper, but communication could be more challenging (with time zones or language barriers).

2. Save money on energy. It might seem obvious, but conserving energy can considerably save costs (and the planet). It’s important to check the energy efficiency ratings of all appliances, and as your business grows, to instil an energy-saving culture within your staff.

Turning off computers at the end of the day can save an additional 50% of energy consumption.

3. Get the best tariff. When it comes to phone and internet expenses, we might not always have the optimal tariff. Reviewing your requirements and then comparing your current costs with new offers can help find a cheaper alternative (or be leveraged with your existing provider). Also, if you’re using a business bank account it’s a good thing to shop around and check the interest rates and special deals that other branches are offering.

Three quarters of people get a discount from the top providers, simply by asking.

4. Make better use of Skype. You’ve probably used Skype or another VoIP (voice-over IP) service before, but many businesses could save money by transferring regular phone conversations to free internet-based calls. It’s a cultural shift, but once you and your staff become more used to Skype-based meetings, you’ll wonder how you ever managed before.

Download the Skype app onto your Smartphone for free calls while you’re out of the office.

5. Find App alternatives. With the boon in Smartphone apps, there are opportunities for businesses to save considerable amounts of money. Take scanners for example – an expensive piece of office kit – Scanner Pro can do the job instead for just £4.99.

Make sure to back up your business phone regularly to ensure your important information is safe.

6. Reclaim tax. If you’ve bought, leased or improved a commercial property you should be allowed to offset some of that capital expenditure for tax purposes – and many small businesses fail to reclaim thousands of pounds a year.

Assess your eligibility for a tax refund on sites like Rift Capital Allowances.

7. Work from home. Avoiding the commute, even for one day a week, can save considerable amounts on transport over the course of a year.

Create a dedicated home workspace away from distractions to help keep you on task.

8. Buy used office furniture. Find discounts when equipping your office by shopping online – sites like Want Don’t Want provide reception desks, chairs and office storage at considerably lower prices.

Assess the furniture when it arrives to make sure you flag up any faults that weren’t properly communicated by the seller.

9. Rent out unused office space. In the current economic climate, shared offices are becoming much more popular. To take advantage of the ‘rent a desk’ movement, look at unused or poorly used space in your business premises and store the extra furniture, re-structure, and lease out the space to a small company or freelancer to keep your overheads down.

This is an especially good solution if your business goes through a short-term downsize.

10. Choose flexible storage. The main benefit of using self storage is flexibility – rent just the space you need for the time you need it and you can upsize or downsize without penalty (so long as the room is available), it’s just a case of signing a new licence. Many SME’s are now using their industrial units as a distribution hub as well, packing up goods for delivery.

Ask to see several rooms at the Storage Facility to find the one that best suits you.

About the author: Drew Davies is based in London and writes for Big Yellow Self Storage. For more information about how storage can help your business, see the business storage section of their website.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Phyllis Moore

    These are valuable tips. We are all looking for ways to save money!

    I think businesses that hire freelancers might also want consider networking to find good candidates if they do not want to go the route of Odesk or PeoplePerHour. I tend to seek out recommendations first when I have tasks that I want to outsource. Sometimes you can save money that way. Without doubt you will save time in the vetting process as it can sometimes take a while to find the right person for the job.

    • Thanks Phyllis, the personal recommendation is usually the best, but sometimes I’ve been recommended ‘friends of the family’ who have been appalling at their jobs – and firing them is made more awkward by the fact they are a friend of the family!

  • sha2814

    I cast my vote on #7. Having worked remotely for a large bank in the past, this is definitely a valuable option. Many people already have many of the tools necessary to complete a home office – so you not only cut down expenses but it won’t cost a lot to do it. Add in #4 and #5 and you are ready to hit the ground running. Advances in technology have truly made the world a smaller place. As well, your business benefits from 24/7 attention.
    Finally, if you designate a room of your home for office/business use – you can write-off other expenses on your taxes. When I worked from home for the bank I was able to write off a percentage of my mortgage payment and utilities at tax time. Note: that percentage involved the square footage of the room used for business – but every bit helps!

    • Thanks Sha, thats a good point about the tax breaks for using effectively 1/5th of your own home as an office.

  • LarryL

    Using freelancers can save you money; but there are hidden costs. They may not be all that good. They may leave you at a critical time. They may steal your business documents and run to your competitor.
    Keep a critical eye out here.

    • Thanks Larry, a fine point well raised, it IS of utmost importance to have a high level of trust, as indeed the unthinkable could happen and your freelancer could run off to a competitor to sell your internal documents!

  • oivas

    +1 on usage of skype calls. It is so easy and cost effective. I do not see any reason as to why people do not use it en masse.

    Yes, we do need the phone lines but majority of our calls can be done through skype. This becomes relevant because more and more businesses are becoming virtual today and in many cases utilizing work force which may be sitting in a different geography.

    Even large multinationals are now using internet telephony. So, I think, this is a good way ahead.

    Thanks for sharing! In fact, all your tips are so relevant.

    • Thanks Oivas, I know many people used to use Google Voice and an IP phone – but I think that solution no longer works. I agree that VOIP solutions like this and Skype can massively save on costs.

  • Phyllis Moore

    Something else that I have found very helpful over the years to cut costs is bartering. In so doing you not only save money, but you have an opportunity to hone your own skills as you offer them to another business.

    As is always the case with these matters it’s best to make an assessment as to whether or not offering your time is more costly than making an upfront payment. But if these are services that you excel at and that are not time-intensive for you, then bartering is something to consider.

  • Scottf14

    This list is simply, and unequivocally, awesome! You hit on many good points, but the one that I liked the most is the first one. Hiring freelancers, outsourcing in general, can save so much money that it is almost ridiculous! Articles can be written dirt-cheap but contain solid content. Logos can be made in a professional manner for little money. There are so many things that a freelancer can offer!