The 4 simple things you need to cut small business costs

Small businesses have to monitor their spending more than most

David Quinn: BrightHR Social Media Manager

Being a small business is tough and for many, the threat of failure looms large overhead. That’s why it essential owners have a firm grasp on the company outgoings and look to achieve potential cost reductions wherever possible. After all, any money saving initiatives can add up and ultimately mean the difference between business success and business failure.  

And which business owner doesn't want to succeed? None that we know of.

With that in mind, we take a look at 4 easy cost cutting ideas for small business

1. The barter system is back

Bartering may be seen as an old-fashioned way of doing business but it’s starting to see a comeback in a big way.

According to the International Reciprocal Trade Association’s President Ron Whitney, the UK’s organised barter sector is one of the fastest growing in the world and ‘the only limitation to barter industry growth is the lack of awareness in the business community,’

For the small business, this can be a great way to reduce the costs of goods and services. For example, marketing companies may wish to barter with I.T companies in an exchange of equipment or support for promotional help. Hotels and hospitality related companies may be able to barter with other local businesses in terms of reciprocal goods and services. Any business with excess stock or unused inventory may wish to create an exchange that benefits both businesses

And it can help your business outside of the barter system as well. Grow your customer list, build your business networks, increase recommendations and expose yourself to new, potentially untapped markets. All great news for your business.

2. Going online marketing

The digital revolution has brought us ever closer to our customers, and the traditional, usually expensive methods of advertising have been replaced with inexpensive, or even free, ways to reach them, Social media, paid social, pay per click search adverts, search engine optimisation, all can be utilised at a fraction of the cost of traditional TV, radio and print advertising. What’s more, you don’t need any experience to start and it’s all trackable. That way you can see what is working and what isn’t, turning off poorly performing elements and concentrating your budget on the ones that do.

3. Reviewing your software and tools

We have all been guilty of downloading a software programme and then proceeded not to use it. But for businesses who need to pay for licenses any software not being used can be costly. Don’t fear though, today’s market is awash with alternatives to traditional software packages. No longer do you need Microsoft Office as you can use Google Drives as a free replacement, cloud-based software packages mean your employees can work remotely and access files from anywhere, there’s plenty of cheaper alternatives to specialist design software.

Software has also been developed to make your life easier and bring you specialist knowledge at a fraction of the price of hiring staff. Take for example our own BrightHR software. Employees can now book annual leave in a matter of clicks, you can check any potential conflicts and approve leave safe in the knowledge you have cover. Shifts and rotas are also made easy as you can assign staff directly to a rota and staff are notified automatically about any shifts they have been requested to work. This means less hassle for managers and with compliance built into the software you can be sure that you're following the correct procedures and keeping your business safe without the need for internal legal or HR teams.

4. Reducing absence and the cost of recruitment

According to the CIPD the average UK employee takes over six days of sick leave each year and that could be costing your business over £500 per employee, per year. It doesn’t sound that much in isolation but as you increase the number of staff you increase the potential cost.

Staff illness is, however, a fact of life and your staff are going to call in sick from time to time. But is there something you can be doing to reduce the number of absences, and therefore reduce the cost? Monitoring absence trends, creating an open communication culture, flexible working, employee health and fitness initiatives can all help reduce the causes of absence, such as stress, and can help you reduce or even prevent some occurrences.

What’s more, with these employee initiatives in place your employees will feel a more valued, that you care about them as people rather than just workers and as a result, their loyalty to the company will increase. This will ultimately lead to reduced staff turnover and mean you are not spending money on unnecessary recruitment. Win win.


When it comes to employee absence are you measuring the costs? Download our latest report on planning ahead for unplanned absence.

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