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10 ways to… reduce business overheads

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  • Publish date: 10 February 2012
  • Archived on: 10 February 2013

With the economy struggling, businesses need more than ever to keep overheads down. You’ve haggled with suppliers and utility providers, but what other savings could you make?

Small Business Update

This update was published in Small Business Update 98 - February 2012

Small Business Update from Atom Content Marketing is a monthly magazine for people running their own business. Articles vary in length and cover 'hot topics', issues of importance, and current affairs.

Martin Malcolm finds out

  1. Reduce business IT costs. Switch computing to cloud services and get a range of up-to-date business software without having to buy it. You can ditch expensive data storage and email servers. Web-based software doesn’t require complex installation or maintenance, so you save on IT support too. Shop around for the cheapest cloud service subscription.
  2. Switch your business communications. Internet services such as Skype or Google Voice can radically reduce your phone bill. Alternatively, encourage staff to email, tweet or text rather than phone.
  3. Switch your online payment services. Does your online turnover merit the monthly fees of a merchant account? If you only make modest web sales, PayPal or Clickbank still allow customers to pay online. Instead of a monthly fee, you’ll pay a small charge per sale.
  4. Reduce premises costs. Move to smaller premises or allow staff to work from home to save rent, business rates and utilities. In house, encourage staff to turn off devices left on standby. Simple measures such as draught excluders or low-energy light bulbs can cut bills too. If maintaining your company image is vital, use a virtual office service, such as that provided by London Presence Ltd for a smart postal address, switchboard and meeting rooms when you need them.
  5. Reduce staff overheads. Outsource tasks such as bookkeeping. Use a contract packing service for cheaper mailshots and stock despatch. Choose freelance workers for specific projects, to gain the expertise you need without recruiting expensive permanent staff.
  6. Travel cost-effectively. Hold teleconferences where possible, rather than travel to meetings. On essential business trips, economise with advance booking for rail travel and last-minute booking for hotel rooms.
  7. Form a business cluster. Get together with nearby firms and gain the bulk-ordering advantages bigger companies enjoy. Your cluster may be able to share facilities or equipment. Could your product carry a promotion for a business partner if they share your production costs?
  8. Rent rather than buy equipment. Renting reduces capital investment and lets you speedily upgrade equipment, while saving on maintenance and repair. Check the energy rating of new electrical devices to make further savings.
  9. Hire out under-used resources. Rent out equipment or vehicles you do not use constantly to other firms. Perhaps you have storage or desk space you need only at certain times and on which you could gain a rental income. Check your lease to make sure sub-letting is permitted.
  10. Ask for ideas. Challenge employees to find ways of saving a specific sum. Give a bonus or time off to those who deliver. Ask your accountant’s advice on cost-cutting and on paying the correct rate of VAT for goods and services.