Sometimes, the best way to finding more success with money is to ensure you aren’t overspending on the necessities. While there are many costs that you must accept as a basic element of running a small business, many company directors are led to believe that brand new items will save money in the long term and that shopping around for different offers can be a waste of time.
As long as you maintain each item and service’s effectiveness, you can find ways to pay less for the same item without cutting corners or losing out. For example, spending unnecessarily on expensive stationary and designer furniture can slow your company’s growth, put you in a weaker position and reduce the level of success you have with money overall. While many businesses out there will try to sell you top-of-the-range, brand new equipment, you should aim to avoid spending on what is essentially bells and whistles that neither you or your staff need to perform your roles.
Quite often it will benefit your company better to spend more on hiring the best staff, creating effective marketing campaigns and developing your products to the highest possible standards.
Let’s look at a few of the simple areas you could be making grand savings on.
Higher spec desktop PCs rarely have colossal benefits to make them worth choosing over a lower spec computer with a basic software package. Unless your small business requires enormous computer memory or speed to run effectively, like some tech or graphic design companies, the limited benefits that come from a state-of-the-art machine are likely to be unnoticeable in months, and certainly in 3 years.
Ensure a full 5 years’ usage, which is 3 years more than most. If you spend £500 on a basic desktop as opposed to £1,000 on a “good” one, across 35 staff a saving of £500 per machine is a total of £17,500. Compounded at 10% per year for 20 years, that makes a difference of £117,731. Finding success with money is no easy feat, but simple savings such as this can give you an advantage over your competition.
Printing costs most businesses much more than it should, mostly because staff are happy to print of War and Peace in technicolour at 10p a sheet without even considering the compounded cost and wastage.
Our annual printing bill is around £40,000 based on a drilled down lease agreement and payment per sheet. If we followed the usual method of buying printers and getting cartridges from manufacturers, we’d be pummelled for something more like £70,000.
If we could train our team to use the colour button sparingly, to only print when needed and to stay paperless for the most part, we could potentially save another £3,000. Putting that aside, £10,000 a year compounded at 10% over 20 years brings you an additional £67,275.
Insurance, particularly in property investment and buy-to-let businesses such as ours, is a big saving opportunity area. Each year we insure over 500 properties as of writing, creating economies of scale and better purchasing power. This is especially true when you add in all other insurances, such as car fleet policies, indemnity, employer and employees’ liability and others.
By shopping around, getting new quotes every year and changing provider every 2 to 3 years, I estimate that we save in the region of £18,000 per years. This is a relatively simple process with a life-long upside and leveraged benefit.
Since 2007, commercial rents have dropped, which provides an argument that many people are “overpaying” commercial rates at unfair levels. Of course, the valuation office will not write to you with the good news of a bill reduction, and will simply continue to charge you the same rates – which is why we are always challenging the rates that we pay on our offices.
You can make real savings by challenging these valuations, as well as empty property rates on empty commercial buildings. By taking advantage of exemptions to empty property rates, such as decommissioning works, you can end the need for empty property rates. The total estimated saving on three units we have under development or pipelined comes to £130,000 per year, and compounded at 10% per year over 20 years you create an extra £168,17.
You can save big money on utilities, especially over multiple properties, in the same way that we save big on insurances. Whenever it is time to renew, I like to call up several major suppliers and get negotiating. When you have economies of scale it is far easier to negotiate with suppliers, and you can also use other supplier quotes as leverage and ask different companies to beat the quotes given. The last time I did this, we saved around 25% over a standard one-year contract price of an individual property.
Energy costs in the UK are spiralling amidst the government’s green energy policy, where consumers have to pay a subsidy so the government can make payments to parties generating energy from clean energy such as solar panels and wind turbines. You can make big financial wins using this information, plus knowledge of the cheapest small businesses on the Money Saving Expert website. A cheeky move you can consider is to take a “starting a business” per unit off a previous quote, and use this quote as leverage on the next supplier. Just watch them rush to drop their rates!
It is amazing how much money can be saved just by applying some extra time, thought and effort to the basic costs of your small business, helping to give you more money to spend on generating more income from other clients.
Let’s help each other find great success with money, by telling me and other readers if you think there are other money-saving areas I could have touched upon.
If you would like to learn more about how I keep my expenditure low and yet live an extremely comfortable life, you can find my book “Low Cost, High Life” here
You can also read about how you can raise money and help your small business here