Small business owners need to be particularly mindful of their business costs. Unnecessary spend – however modest – can significantly affect the bottom line.Unfortunately, there’s probably no single measure that’s going to triple profit margins overnight. But with a few simple practices, small snips can be made to add up to some serious savings. (1) Going green Jumping on the eco-friendly bandwagon isn’t just good for company reputation and the environment: it’s also great for helping cut costs. Choosing energy-efficient LED bulbs, turning the thermostat down a notch or two, and not leaving the printer switched on if no one’s using it are all basic energy-saving practices that are often forgotten. It’s important to remember to switch things off at the wall, too – many appliances still suck a considerable amount of “phantom power” even when they’re on standby mode. Making the move towards a paperless office is another great tip. The costs of ink, stationery, paper and storage can all add up. These days, there’s really no excuse: contracts and invoices can be signed electronically, and huge amounts of data can safely be stored digitally. (2) Getting online Cloud computing services have opened a lot of doors for smaller businesses. There’s no need to invest in a dedicated IT systems to handle payroll or online training, and a specialist isn’t required to manage them. Best of all, most cloud services are fully flexible – only requiring payment for what’s used. Indeed, some online tools are able to completely replace their more costly, conventional counterparts: Voice-over-IP services like Skype can take the place of permanent phone lines, and holding meetings as video conferences could greatly reduce travel expenses. (3) Using flexible workers Permanent employees can bring some hefty costs. Recruitment, training, benefits, sick days and holidays can all start to add up. Many SMEs find they’re better off getting external help with less frequent projects. For example, independent virtual assistants contracted to remotely provide specific, support could help with a wide range of tasks, such as handling customer queries, chasing invoices, or managing social media accounts. Hiring freelance services when needed can work out far more cost effective than the cost of having an extra employee. Savings can also be made by letting existing employees work more flexibly. For example, many small businesses are embracing hot-desking; the hire of a desk within a shared, managed workspace – a space to work that is available when required to fit around the particular needs of the business or individual. Similarly, affordable meeting rooms for hosting clients are readily available for hourly hire. Achieving substantial savings on cost of running of an office can be very easy. Small behaviour changes can make a big difference. For SMEs, every penny counts and moderate savings can be the difference between accelerating to the next phase of growth and remaining static. Richard Morris is CEO of Evans Easyspace.
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