17 Tips on Running a Business
Quick, actionable and realistic steps that can generate significant cash for your business this year…
As the UK emerges from the recession, there probably hasn’t been as good a time for your business to shine as now. The cliché “make hay whilst the sun shines” come to mind, but the challenge for many SME’s is how to apply the quick wins in a timely fashion. Although you will no doubt have an arsenal of fantastic ideas, finding the time to implement them all is easier said than done.
With this in mind, we have put together this fantastic article; jam packed with easy, actionable advice on how you can save money for your business. As business people ourselves, we know that you will not have a lot of time on your hands so these pointers are very practical and the best bit is that you can apply them today to start saving money.
We can assure you that by carrying out our 17 money saving tips, you will generate substantial cash for your business during 2015 which can be used for making your company even bigger and even better. None of these steps require tonnes of finance or resource and they are all a lot better than these crazy examples of extreme cost-saving measures!
1. Leverage Your Testimonials
If people are saying good things about your company, this could work as well as your own advertising efforts. Whether it is another business or one of your valued customers, testimonials and reviews are one of the best ways of convincing potential customers to buy into your brand. You can use a trusted platform such as TrustPilot or eKomi, or simply add your positive reviews to your website for all to see. This technique could get you more leads than you think and as long as your product is great, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting people to leave a few words.
2. Ask For Referrals
If you have built up a good relationship with another business, don’t be scared to ask for a referral. When it comes to business to business (B2B), this method can be solid gold and you can always reciprocate to make it worth their while. The chances are that if you have built a solid relationship with another business, it is because your product is great and they trust you; so asking for a referral will not be seen as cheeky. In the long term, this could save your business serious money when compared with more expensive forms of advertising.
3. Manage Your Workforce
Although this may seem a bit extreme and some employees won’t appreciate us giving this piece of advice, is there any “dead wood” in your business? If so, it’s a sad fact that they should be removed from your operations sooner rather than later as they are literally haemorrhaging money from your SME. If the worry is that you will struggle to deal with demand when you have a surge in business, it is far more prudent to take on temporary staff when this occurs or employ someone part-time, than it is to have someone sat around contributing very little. Idle staff are a serious danger to your business and by resolving this issue, you are generating money instantly.
4. Do You Need to Outsource?
What does your business currently outsource at present? From writing and publishing press releases and marketing to catering and accountancy; there is an abundance of tasks that companies tend to outsource and usually at considerable cost. Could you train your staff to do any of this in-house?
You will be surprised how much talent you may have at your disposal that you weren’t aware of. For example, you could have a young marketing assistant who is a whizz at writing up content or perhaps a mathematical expert who can balance the books. Take a good look at the talent pool within your company before you go out and start spending a fortune on contractors etc.
5. Switch Your Energy Tariff or Supplier
This is one that is obviously close to our hearts here at Love Energy Savings, and it still infuriates us how many businesses neglect their energy bills when it comes to reducing their outgoings. As one of the fundamental financial burdens we face both domestically and commercially, surely it makes sense to get this one boxed off first? If you have never switched tariff or supplier before, then you WILL be wasting serious money every time you pay your bills as you will be on a rolled over, expensive deal.
Just put your business postcode into the box at the right or at the bottom of this article to find your cheapest rates and we will even get you switched over at no cost to your business whatsoever. This isn’t a sales pitch as such, simply sound advice for lowering your business outgoings as quickly as possible.
6. Lend Your Expertise
Although you will no doubt be very taking care of the day to day tasks at your SME, don’t be afraid to lend your wisdom to others. By speaking at local or national events in your niche, writing articles for the press or perhaps hosting a webinar, you can build up some real trust in your brand. Although you are unlikely to raise any immediate capital for your business by providing this insight, the people you inspire could well use your brand in the future. If you are seen as thought leaders in your industry then people will flock to use your services, so look at the bigger picture and offer expert advice wherever you can.
7. Second Hand Equipment
Although this may seem a little underhand, there is absolutely no-one who will ever know! You can find awesome second hand furniture, electrical equipment and much, much more on eBay and this can save you thousands of pounds over the year. This step may take a lot of perusing the web in order to find the best prices and also gear that will look the part in your office; but it is well worth it given the money you can pump right back into your company.
These days, hipster chic is all the rage, especially in sectors such a marketing and some of these second hand equipment will look perfect. You can even use sites like Freecycle where perfectly good second hand equipment is available free of charge.
8. Internships & Work Experience
Internships and work experience can be a winner for everyone and also provides an instant increase in productivity for your business; which is effectively cash. By employing some young university or college graduates on this basis you can offer them some priceless industry experience and also get some of the more menial tasks completed as well. The challenge here is finding the right candidates but depending on your sector, you will always have young and enthusiastic individuals looking for work placements. The best bit is, there is no limit to how many you can take on and if you do choose to pay them, it can be a token payment rather than a full salary.
9. Fine Tune Your Mailing List
If your business relies on a lot of direct mailing, then there are cost cutting techniques you can employ. You can discuss this with the relevant team at your company but some quick wins may exist around eliminating non-responders or recipients who are just simply not going to convert.
You could also merge your direct mailing efforts with cross promotions or look to use better software. This channel is one that can bring you fantastic returns so giving it a bit more love could well see your profits surge significantly.
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Haggle
If you are starting to become pretty established and using many of your suppliers a great deal, do not be afraid of trying to negotiate better prices. If these companies can see that you are starting to get more and more business, they will not want to lose your business. All you need to do is ask if you are on the cheapest rates and perhaps discretely mentioned that other firms have been in touch offering their services, you may well find that they give you a better deal. Haggling is one of the oldest arts in businesses so why not go for it?
11. Pay Your Business Bills Swiftly
By ensuring that you pay your own bills swiftly, you can set a great example to your own debtors and save some real cash. Many suppliers will offer discounts for early or even timely payments and for paying by direct debit. This will mean no late payment charges and you will know that you are always in the black when it comes to your business finances, which can only be a good thing. By paying your business bills swiftly, you could save your business hundreds, if not thousands of pounds every year.
12. Shop Around for Everything
It doesn’t matter what you are buying for your business, it is worth shopping around for everything.
From post it notes to a company car, there will be SME’s out there just like yours vying for business. A good rule of thumb is to get at least three quotes together and play the suppliers off against each other, this ties back in with the art of haggling but the key is to contact as many providers as possible.
13. Find Forums and Newsgroups
One of the best ways of finding the perfect customers, is by looking through relevant forums and discussion boards. If potential customers have taken the time to chat on the internet about their needs, then they are more than likely open to suggestions. Be careful not to be salesy when you are engaging in these groups and offer some actual advice, but similarly to our point regarding lending expertise, this can build up some real trust and authority in your businesses. You can then drop some subtle hints for people to visit your site, or simply include your URL in your screen name or signature.
14. Go Green With Your Printing
Believe it or not, you can actually pick up recycled print cartridges for a fraction of the price of brand new ones.
If printing of the highest quality isn’t vital to your business, why not go for this environmentally friendly option, which can also save you money? It will also help you to be able to market your business as green, which can help further to bring in sales and build up some trust from your target audience.
15. Free Software
Many businesses fall into the trap of thinking that they have to spend thousands of pounds on expensive software for their business. These days, you can find free versions available online if you look carefully enough and if not, there will be free alternatives that do the job perfectly. You can find safe, trustworthy downloads at websites such as Cnet.com. SME’s all over the UK spend thousands in the latest operating systems and photo editing packages when often, there is simply no need.
16. Pick Up Your Own Supplies
This may not apply to many SME’s in the UK, but if it does it could make a huge difference. If you often order supplies from a company that isn’t a million miles away, have you thought about picking these items up yourself? If you have a suitable vehicle and the petrol involved doesn’t cost more than what you are currently paying for shipping, this could be a very prudent move. You may not be bothered after a hard day on the grindstone, but over a course of a year this could save you serious cash that you can then use to enhance your business. If you can pick up your own business supplies, do so.
17. Petty Cash
Does your business have a petty cash account that is used a fair amount? This can be discarded fairly flippantly by many SME’s due to the small figures involved but you would be surprised at how this can build up.
If your staff are dipping into petty cash quite often for things like milk, sugar and other sundries, it may be worth look at whether you can buy in bulk to save money. Although this may only save you a few hundred quid over the year, this could contribute to something far more useful for the business.
So, there you have it. Love Energy Savings’ top 17 tips for saving your business money today. We think these easy to apply techniques can really help to propel your SME to the next level this year, but you really should not delay. You can get your team to work on these right away in order to ensure that your business isn’t wasting any more valuable cash.
We would love to hear what you think of this advice and more importantly how you get on. Do not hesitate to drop us a line at [email protected], or why not tweet us at @LoveEnergySavin? And, remember you can get point 5 sorted in a matter of seconds by simply sticking your postcode into the easy to use form on this page. Thanks for reading and keep your eyes peeled for more great business guides in the future!