Small business, small budget: How to make your money last

Written by Alex Cohen

If you’re running a small business, you won’t find it revolutionary when we say that making your money go as far as possible is one of the most important things you can do. In fact, a study by the National Small Business Association found that more than a quarter of small businesses can’t get the funds they need to keep operating.

With small businesses making up 99.3 percent of the private sector in the UK, there’s always going to be stiff competition for funding. It’s crucial, then, that you take steps to preserve whatever money you already have.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Keep your overheads as low as possible

Do you really need an office in the middle of town? Do you need an office at all? Depending on your business, you could reasonably be spending up to 15 percent of your revenue on office space, which is a significant chunk of money you could be using to stay afloat. Sure, this won’t work for every industry. But, if your business can go remote, it’s worth considering.

Agile working is on the rise, too. A report from theWorld Economic Forum cited flexible work as ‘one of the biggest drivers of transformation of business models in many industries’. In the USA alone, remote work has risen from nine percent in 1995 to more than 37 percent today.

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It’s not as inaccessible as you may think, and given how much money you could save, it’s well worth thinking about. Be sure to do your homework, however. There are many resources out there to teach you more about remote work.

2. Automate, automate, automate

Automation can be a lifesaver for small businesses. 96 percent of small businesses in the UK are considered ‘micro-businesses’ – those that only employ up to nine people. With such a small workforce, it’s of paramount importance that each employee is working as efficiently as possible.

Time spent on automatable tasks like HR management and social media scheduling is, for a small business, time wasted. They’re things that need to get done, but they take up valuable working hours that could be spent on more important things, like sales calls to increase your business’s revenue.

In 2017, WorkMarket conducted a survey to find out how much time could be saved from automation. It found that more than half of employees interviewed would save two hours a dayif more processes were automated – that’s 240 hours a year that could be put to better use. To back this up, those who have already embraced automation have reported a 28 percent jump in efficiency, and efficiency means savings.   

3. Cover the basics

There are some essentials that you might assume you’re getting right, but that require more attention. Chief among these is insurance. An unpredicted disaster could put you out of business in one fell swoop, so revisit your plans and make sure you’ve got the appropriate coverage and contingency plan. Sure, it requires time to set it up, but it could save your entire operation should the worst strike.

Your website – specifically its loading speed – is another fundamental that you’ll want to cover. A few seconds might seem insignificant, but if you haven’t optimised your website properly you could be losing customers by the boatload. Approximately 70 percent of consumers say that a website’s page speed impacts their decision-making, and you don’t want it to be a negative impact.  

It’s the small things that count

Making money last isn’t easy. If it was, fewer small businesses would fail. With this advice, you can begin to plug the holes in your revenue bucket and work towards reaching your business’s definition of ‘full steam ahead’. If you’re ever lost and need help, soak up the advice Charles Dickens has to offer:

‘Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and six pence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.’

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Advice , workplace automation , Small business