It’s official. Business inflation is still more than twice as high as that for consumers. In 2013 it is running at over 6%. On a positive note, it is not quite as high as 6.7%, which was last year’s statistic. The news comes from a survey of members of the Forum of Private Businesses. It reported that costs had risen for a number of areas.
Not surprisingly, the first was energy, the field where price rises have been dominating the news and the speeches of politicians. Despite all their efforts, everyone is facing these rising costs, and businesses which cannot operate without energy are being even harder hit than households.
If you feel you have been really unfairly treated by an energy provider, you may be able to complain to the Energy Ombudsman. This costs nothing but will only apply if you fall into the category of micro business, ie you don’t have more than 10 employees and your turnover doesn’t exceed £2 million. If you don’t quite fit that profile but your annual consumption of electricity is 55,000 kWh or less, and/or of gas is not more than 200,000 kWh, you could still be eligible. Other SMEs would need to take legal advice on whether it is worth pursuing a dispute with an energy company.
These were listed next. Whether you or your employees have to travel by road, rail or air, the costs are rising. The recent announcement of another fuel duty freeze is welcome news, but the best way to cut these costs is to travel less. Video conferencing technology has come on in leaps and bounds, and a small investment in this could save you money on travelling to meetings in different parts of the country or even in other countries.
For a small business, it’s important to maintain awareness in the markets and to continually attract new customers. But marketing campaigns can be costly and not always bring the response you want. Your bookkeepers should be able to help you monitor that. You also have to be really careful that you have your targeting focus right and use social media and other cheaper means available to reach that audience.
Materials and Stock
Your suppliers will be feeling the pinch just as you are. Small businesses often have to pay over the odds for small deliveries of goods. One way to get around this problem is to join a consortium of local businesses, which can order in bulk and have much greater negotiating power. Ask your outsourced bookkeepers if they know of one that you can join. If not, with all their local contacts, they could be very helpful in getting one set up.