Some simple ways to improve the bottom line for your SME

By Richard Robinson

There are a number of simple steps you can take to save your company time and money.

Cutting costs, delivering big ideas, eliminating overheads, saving energy – they’re all great ways to boost your business’s bottom line. Here are just a few to follow which can help you achieve this for your SME.

Business associations are a good way to save money on services such as insurance, and most have very reasonable membership fees too. Joining a trade body could mean securing meaningful discounts, as well as learning more about the industry you are serving. They can also be a great way to network with other local businesses and services, some of which could be helpful to your business.

To get your name out more, why not teach a class, offer up time to speak at a local business networking meeting about a topic you know about, or write an article for a local business magazine, website or newsletter. All of these things cost nothing and will drum up exposure for your business.

Use social media as a business tool. It’s largely free and can be a simple, easy way to reach your target audience, driving traffic to your company website. However, if you’re going to start using a social media channel for your business, it’s important to understand the basics – there are plenty of free online guides out there. Make sure you use analytics though; it’s the only way to tell if it is working or not. There are plenty of free tools available to help you get started, as well as measure your success.

Rather than hiring more permanent full or part-time staff, also why not consider hiring temporary workers to handle surges in business during specific periods and holiday seasons. There are also other contract types such as fixed-term and zero-hours that make it easier and less risky for your business to address a short-to-medium-term increase in workload.

Contracting sales representatives paid only on commission is often less expensive and if managed correctly, can be equally as effective (and cost-effective) as a traditional sales force.

Create and develop a mailing list of your customers and potential customers: There are plenty of simple, online, cost-effective mailing services available; some are even free. By building a customer contact list and engaging in a regular conversation with your customers you can generate more regular orders and retain their business long term.

Every company can have the best products and services in the world, but without great employees, you won’t get very far. So get your employees involved. Employees are the lifeblood of any business. They can make or break a business. That’s why investing in your employees’ development and tying their individual goals to your overall business objectives is crucial to your company’s success

Energy can form a big part of your business overheads, but is undeniably one thing your business can’t do without. However, effective energy management can result in cost savings of between 5-25 % per year.

Here are a few ways you can cut your energy use and consequently your bill:

  • If lights, air conditioning, heating and ventilation and other equipment are not required – switch them off. Control systems are an effective tool available to do this and automatically switch off items like display cabinets when not in use.
  • Businesses keep premises well lit for customers and employees, but make savings by investing in energy efficient lighting. Even small changes such as changing from halogen spotlights to LEDs could save up to 80 per cent of energy used and reduce maintenance costs too as they last much longer than traditional light bulbs.
  • A change in employee behaviour and attitude to energy could also have a real impact on your bottom line. Appointing an ‘energy champion’ can be a simple but effective step. They can assist by taking responsibility for initiating small-scale efficiency practices and reminding colleagues of the everyday steps they could all undertake to bring energy usage down.

Put simply SMEs can’t afford to ignore the mantra that time is money. Better energy management help SMEs to make business improvements or investments that previously seemed financially impossible. All this boils down to two key factors – reduce your costs (money going out); and increase sales (money coming in). By taking small steps in both areas you will see an improvement to your bottom line.

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