How businesses can come together to manage costs 

It remains tough out there for small businesses. With inflation rates increasing again last month, and the subsidised Government support for high energy bills changing recently

How businesses can come together to manage costs 

It remains tough out there for small businesses. With inflation rates increasing again last month, and the subsidised Government support for high energy bills changing recently, more pressure is being heaped on businesses to manage costs at a time when consumers are spending less.

While there is hopefully light at the end of the tunnel, with full-on recession so far being avoided (albeit narrowly), and inflation expected to drop by the end of the year, small businesses need immediate help to navigate these choppy waters.

As the backbone of the British economy, the nation’s 5.5 million small businesses are vital to growth and recovery. Getting through this tricky period alone can be a struggle, but coming together to collaborate with one another can often make a big difference.

To facilitate this, Small Business Britain has been hosting a series of live events which bring business owners together to share insight, in partnership with Amazon’s Small Business Accelerator

Hosted across the country – in London, Edinburgh, and Grimsby – these events pooled knowledge and practical guidance from small firms, policymakers, and local experts, on how to deal with current economic challenges. In particular tackling topics such as boosting confidence and building resilience, as well as managing costs and productivity.

Lots of brilliant advice came out of these events from ideas on financial management, sales and marketing, to the importance of reaching out for support. So I wanted to share some of the top tips on managing costs that have stood out, from some really impressive small businesses that have ‘been there and done that’. 

Matt Dyson, Co-Founder of the baby sleep tech company behind the Rockit Rocker, stressed the vital importance of bootstrapping. “Whatever your stage of growth, keep a really close, prudent eye on your resources, just like a start-up. This will ensure you are well prepared for any negative headwinds.” 

The importance of being on top of your game, knowing your product margins, and not being afraid to raise prices was highlighted by Catherine Erdly, Founder of The Resilient Retail ClubShe said “make sure you go over your margins for each product or service you offer, and check and review your prices to make sure they are competitive and you are not being left behind in shifting up.” 

Setting time aside regularly to review things like pricing, outgoings and your supply chain is really important. After all, one of the benefits of being a small business owner is that you can make quick decisions with no hoops to jump through for approval.

Indeed the power of this adaptability was highlighted by Steph Douglas, owner of gifting company, Don’t Buy Her Flowerswho says, “one of the strengths of the UK’s small business community is our flexibility, so it is important to stay agile and move quickly to find new revenue streams.” 

All of the challenges over the last few years have shown the importance of building resilience. And the hard-won lessons of knowing when to pivot your business and redefine your goals must be kept close. Diversification and looking outside of what you currently offer customers or how this can be adapted, can help to bring in vital new revenue which can make all the difference in tough periods like these.

All of this goes to show that talking things through with other businesses and experts can lead to powerful and useful conversations and be the start of deeper collaborations. Whether it is finding out more about the benefits of being environmentally sustainable for example, and how this could cut your costs. Or perhaps interesting ideas on new sales and emerging trends that could boost sales and awareness for your brand. Or even new partnerships and joint ventures being forged through promising connections. 

I always stress the importance of building a support network and accessing help from all directions. There really is so much support out there for small businesses, and much of it free; from mentors, business groups, fellow entrepreneurs, bigger businesses and the government at a local and national level. The collaboration and camaraderie we see again and again amongst the UK’s small business community is one of the most special things about being an entrepreneur in the UK. At a time when business owners have a lot of burdens to carry, a problem shared can really help to lighten the load.

Michelle Ovens
Michelle Ovens

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