Speculate to Accumulate: 5 top areas of your business to invest in next year
“You have to spend money to make money.” It’s a phrase that has been bandied about by entrepreneurs for decades now, but it’s one that business owners don’t really like to think about. No one likes spending money if they don’t necessarily have to, but this can have repercussions for your business.
The new year is fast approaching, so the time is coming to start making those big changes in your business. Love Energy Savings is here to help, and we have spoken to the experts to get their advice on where you should be putting your hard-earned money in order to see your business grow.
1) Your people
Employees are the lifeblood of your business. As a company gets bigger, and takes on more customers and clients, you need more employees to help offer a fantastic product or service.
Research conducted in the past by Love Energy Savings revealed that almost half of 1,400 people surveyed said that they didn’t believe their employer offered them enough opportunities to develop in their career. And there are so many reasons why investing in the knowledge and skills of your employees is worthwhile.
Your employees will feel more engaged in their role and in the business as a whole, as they are being given opportunities to learn more, not just about their own niche specialism, but about your industry in general. Those who feel more engaged and connected to a business that provides them with these chances are less likely to leave, giving you more time, money and energy to focus on growing the business instead of recruiting new people.
2) Your equipment
No one wants to spend more money than they need to, especially when it comes to your electronic equipment. It’s perfectly understandable; why replace old laptops, printers or broadband if it seems to be working just fine? But how much time is being lost by slow equipment?
In today’s modern age, where almost every small business across the country depends on all kinds of technology; slow internet and broken laptops can do more harm than good. If old equipment is temperamental and keeps slowing down your processes, you either have to spend time trying to fix it yourself, or time and money to give it to a professional; you’re losing out big time.
If a device of any kind stops working, then so do your staff. Whether it’s one slow laptop or a broken server that stops the entire office from being productive, you will likely lose more money in the long run than you would if you purchased reliable equipment. While we’re not suggesting you purchase a brand new laptop for each employee, keep an eye on where things seem to be breaking down the most. Speak to staff members to discover whether any of them are being prevented from working properly by broken devices, and then consider upgrading them.
As the owner of a small business, Hayley Smith, Head of PR at Boxed Out PR, knows the difficulties of balancing finances with the need for new equipment:
“In 2017, small businesses need to be their own IT support and department. This means high quality and working technology that is sustainable and meets the requirements of the business. Purchasing new technology or implementing a new tech infrastructure can be overwhelming for a small or home business, and purchasing decisions need to be made carefully and considerably. It can be difficult to understand what equipment your business needs to grow and thrive.
“The technology that businesses need to invest money into are mobile phones, laptops and desktops, printing equipment, tablets, software and editing programmes, Wi-Fi routing and good broadband, good and high storage cloud devices, video conferencing and, if relevant, wearables and VR.
“Spend time and effort in identifying what your business needs, and the level of technology required. Do you need editing software, or Microsoft packages, or do you need to pay for upgrades on certain programmes or platforms (Hootsuite, BufferApp, etc.), and what phone contract do you need?
“Shop around for the best deals, and avoid purchasing second hand or cheap tech, as it will be more expensive in the long run. Speak to different providers and find out what they can do for you above other providers, and receive the best deal.”
Shopping around for the best price is never a bad idea, whether it’s for your tech equipment or your energy. You can find out more about finding a cheaper deal on your business energy here.
3) Your marketing and online presence
Marketing is how you get more customers, and more customers means your business can then grow and develop. So this kind of investment is a no-brainer. But you’d be surprised how many SMEs neglect many areas of their marketing, dismissing them as too expensive to maintain or just a waste of time.
Not every business can afford to place ads, online or otherwise, or have a full team of marketers at their disposal.
Social media is also a channel that SMEs cannot afford to ignore, given the increasing number of users across the world. As of September 2016, Facebook had around 1.71 billion monthly active users. Instagram has 500 million; Twitter clocks 313 million; and Pinterest has 100 million. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are fast becoming key parts of inbound marketing strategies - connecting and interacting with customers to form a strong relationship which leads to conversions - as well as a place for people to take their complaints and questions.
Ali Golds, business coach at CreativeBizDev, gives her advice:
“There’s something like 5.5 million small businesses in the UK, so if you want to make sure your business stands out, develops and grows, you need to invest in marketing. Having a coherent strategy will ensure that you are not only clear on who your customer is, but also how you will reach them. Customers are more likely to spend money with businesses that have clear, distinct branding; and where they understand the proposition, and how it relates to their own need.
“There’s a lot of competition for the same pound; you need to ensure that your business is going to be the one that the customer spends it with. If you’re not out there promoting what you do and explaining how you can solve their problem, trust me - your competitor will.”
4) Your office
We spend approximately eight hours a day in the office on average, and that’s for five days a week if you are a full-time worker. That’s a tremendous amount of time to spend in one place. Our surroundings can have a huge impact on our mental state, whether we’re happy or not and whether we are productive.
You always want your staff to be producing their very best standard of work, so why not give them a little helping hand towards that? It doesn’t have to be difficult, as there are plenty of ways to boost morale and happiness in the office with a few changes, and it doesn’t have to break the bank either.
Phil Foster, Managing Director of Love Energy Savings, says that senior managers shouldn’t underestimate the effect that an office makeover can bring:
“We’ve always worked hard to create an environment that our employees feel happy in - because happy staff are motivated and productive staff. When we moved into our new offices earlier in the year, we used bright and friendly colours as well as murals selected by our staff to make the surroundings a little more personal.
“Our employees spend so much time here that we wanted it to feel almost like a second home, or as close to one as we can manage. Some businesses might see investing money in new carpets or a fresh lick of paint as a waste, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The way we see it, we’re investing in our business’ future; allowing our employees to perform at their absolute very best.”
5) Your recruitment
We’ve already touched on the importance of people within your business, but what about the new faces that you bring in? Hiring can be tricky for any company to get right, but in today’s world, things have changed slightly.
For SMEs in particular, you shouldn’t be focusing entirely on the skills that new hires can bring to your business. Whilst that is still incredibly important, and we are in no way saying that you shouldn’t question a person about their talents, their personality and how they will fit into the culture of your company shouldn’t be ignored either.
Nowadays more and more people, and companies too, are looking for careers to grow and cultivate rather than standard nine-to-five jobs. People want to learn new skills, progress up the career ladder rather than hopping between roles, and the benefits for businesses keeping the same people are tremendous too.
Nikolay Piriankov, CEO of Rare Pink, explains why having a hiring strategy is key for businesses of all shapes and sizes:
“As an online retailer that offers a high touch service, our people and team are critical to our ability to deliver a great service and grow. More than just focusing on recruitment, we believe it is critical for startups to invest into their company culture, which is a reflection of the brand.
“Investing into a recruitment policy and process, as a startup, is often challenging because we start out hiring friends and people we already know, with no strategy or understanding of the skills and experience that we really need. This inherently leads to two issues - having the wrong people on board and no experience in how to replace them when you need to. This was a painful part of our growth as a company.
“Investing in recruitment starts with finding a people and HR mentor who can help you to overcome these growing pains and to develop a strategy for growth in team members. Most investors who we speak to say they invest first in [their] team, and then in [their] product or idea. So for this reason too, we have found it important to focus on getting the right people into the company, at the right time.”
What are your thoughts? Let us know where you would invest money in your business.
Here at Love Energy Savings, we love to help you save money and make the most of the cash you have. Our expertise lies in saving you an average of 40% on your business electricity or gas. For a free, impartial comparison simply click here or call one of our friendly energy experts on 0800 9888 375.