As well as being incredibly rewarding and giving you the freedom to do what you love, there is also the everyday challenges to contend with such as spikes in customer demand, cash flow issues, staff turnover and seasonal changes – all of which can make a difference to your bottom line.
One such small business that understands this is Rubies in the Rubble, which makes premium chutneys and jams from produce that would otherwise be thrown away. Commenting on the volatility and unpredictable her businesses faces, co-founder and director Alicia Lawson said: “The bulk of our sales happen in a few key months in the year and we’re also having to work with the fluctuations of the seasons because all of our ingredients are taken from gluts.
“On top of this we’re moving out of our current office at the moment, so it’s really useful not to have all the paraphernalia with us and we can be quite mobile.”
They’re clearly not the only one and this is more of an issue now than ever, as the volatility of sales amongst small businesses in the retail sector is at its highest level since 1990 according to a new report commissioned by O2 Business and the Centre for Economic Business Research (Cebr).
In the last year alone, independent retailers saw a 36 per cent difference between average sales in the best (December) and worst (February) months, with this fluctuation expected to only increase in 2015.
The report found small businesses across all industries are particularly at risk to these changes in demand – however it’s not just the economy that can give business owners a headache. Unexpected events such as disruptive weather, changes to government policy and even sudden illness of employees can be make or break for a small business.
So what can be done to protect yourself? The study by O2 Business found that to successfully manage both the expected and unexpected variations in the business cycle, small businesses need to remain as flexible as possible. As well as the benefit of helping you adapt when times are good, avoiding unnecessary fixed or inflexible business costs help you adapt to peaks and troughs in activity throughout the year.
To help address the volatility facing small businesses, O2 Business has launched a new tariff which transforms the way small businesses pay for devices, airtime and business applications. The service, called Business Essentials, is the first flexible business tariff on the market; whether it’s the need for the latest device, a tailored data plan or new business apps, the scalable tariff makes it even easier for business owners to put digital technology at the heart of what they do.
In celebrating the launch of Business Essentials, O2 Business has partnered with Real Business to provide one lucky reader with two tickets to see England vs France on 15 August at Twickenham. All you have to do is let us know your personal business essentials though a simple tweet.
Business Essentials offers unlimited calls and texts on most tariffs – business owners simply decide how much data they need from one month to the next. Unlike other tariffs on the market, costs for a customer’s phone or tablet and airtime are calculated separately as a device plan and airtime plan. Part of their monthly payment goes towards paying off an interest-free loan for their phone or tablet, and part towards the use of airtime.
Ben Dowd, O2’s business director said: “Too often, big businesses assume that small businesses are all the same and offer a one-size-fits-all solution. With Business Essentials we’re putting customers in the driving seat, giving them the transparency, control and flexibility to choose exactly the right device, airtime and business apps for them.
“At O2 we want to help more business owners supercharge their business by putting digital at the heart of what they do. We have seen first-hand from our customers how the right technology can help any company work smarter, faster and more efficiently.”
A tariff that fits around your business needs
Customers that sign up for Business Essentials will receive the following benefits:
- Once a customer has paid off their loan on their phone or tablet, they only pay for their monthly airtime, considerably reducing their bill and giving an instant cash benefit over other networks’ tariffs which continue to charge for both the device and airtime even after the minimum contract period has finished
- The latest device and business apps at their fingertips, so they can continue to be at the forefront of technology at an affordable price
- The option of deciding which digital apps and how much data they need at any time during their contract, meaning they can fit expenditure around peaks and troughs in business demand
- Business Essentials offers unlimited calls and texts on most tariffs – business owners simply decide how much data they need from one month to the next
- The option of paying for their devices upfront to reduce monthly spend, or spread the cost with a zero per cent APR loan over 24 months
For more information on Business Essentials and a full breakdown of pricing, visit the O2 Business website.
Full terms apply, see the conditions page.
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