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.