There is no doubt that the past couple of years have been difficult for businesses to survive. Businesses have faced a number of challenges and in the UK in particular, they have struggled with higher taxes, fallout from Brexit and Covid-related staff shortages.
Now, the cost of living will create another challenge for businesses to endure as they deal with rising fuel and utility costs. On top of this, businesses will need to deal with decreased consumer spending as a result of inflation and high interest rates. According to a survey carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses, almost half of small British companies have warned that the rising operating costs will stall growth. This may mean that another year is subdued for business activity as business leaders struggle to ensure their survival.
So, what can businesses do to get back on their feet and adjust to the rises in the cost of doing business? Here’s some advice that businesses can follow to adapt to the current pressures in the industry.
Drive the adoption of technology tools
Technology has become increasingly valuable to SMBs and can significantly help to prepare for any challenge that lies ahead, helping to increase efficiency and successfully manage operations. Similarly, many modern tech solutions are scalable, meaning something can be found to fit a business regardless of size and budget. Many businesses are already increasing their technology budgets to tackle built-in procedures and monitor employee expenses in order to minimise running costs.
In fact, the FSB survey reveals that the businesses that feel the most confident about recovery are those adapting quickly to hybrid working and digital service. Therefore, it is important that they are properly equipped with the tools necessary to get back on their feet and adjust to the new normal.
Research from SAP Concur revealed that mid-sized businesses across Europe could be losing up to £13,200 a year to fraudulent claims. Expense software is a great example of a technology tool that can give businesses a clear picture of what employees are spending their money on and helping to keep payments under control. This is especially important as we continue to work in a hybrid workforce which has impacted business workflows, communication and visibility.
Having the right finance software in place can help to minimise accidental fraud, allowing finance departments to track and control expense claims in real-time. Effective technological detection solutions can be put in place for more accurate fraud checks, increasing accountability, boosting compliance and reducing human errors. Businesses can also use the software to set a monthly spend amount for claims according to their budgets, working out which costs can afford to be cut.
Encourage automating admin tasks
Embracing technology can also help businesses to build resilience. Automating administrative processes can help businesses become more efficient with time, helping employees to manage their workload and divert energy from time-consuming tasks onto bigger, higher value ones. In turn, this can help businesses to save money while also improving employee productivity.
Using AI in particular to relieve businesses of various administrative duties can help to streamline organisational workflows. Take AI-powered solutions like invoice automation as an example, these solutions allow SMBs to be freed from some time-consuming administrative tasks and perhaps help to save money on utility costs. They also help to increase compliance, allowing businesses to adapt faster and easier to regulation changes, such as post-Brexit changes related to businesses and VAT.
Overall, there is no magic solution to saving businesses through this turbulent period, and the year ahead looks like it will remain difficult. However, having better control of spending and automating perennial tasks can put companies in a better position to cope with the rising costs and other unpredictable challenges this year might bring.