It’s tough out there for SMEs – so how can they find efficiency savings?

In today’s rocky business landscape, it’s more essential than ever for SMEs to find efficiency savings. Brexit and the knock-on effect of big business problems are just two of the factors making their futures more difficult and unpredictable. And with revenue unreliable, it becomes essential to look at other areas where time and money can be saved.

Knock-on effects of the #CarillionCollapse

One of the most significant things affecting SMEs today is their reliance on other, bigger (and possibly vulnerable) businesses. The collapse of Carillion in January 2018, for example, will have substantial, potentially dire consequences for thousands of the UK’s SMEs.

News of the construction company’s collapse raised immediate concerns, of course, for Carillion’s 20,000 permanent staff, and for the continuity of vital building projects – but we mustn’t disregard the wider effects of liquidation. Carillion had a long list of subcontractors, estimated in recent reports to number up to 30,000 SMEs, including many self-employed construction workers. The harsh truth is that subcontractors are likely to be hit even harder than the company’s own staff. They won’t be covered by basic employment rights, after all. And they’re less likely to be paid all – if any – of what they are owed, which has potentially catastrophic consequences, throwing the very viability of many businesses into doubt.

While Carillion is a prominent case, it’s not the first and won’t be the last case of a big name sneezing and the SMEs they deal with catching a cold. And with most SMEs simply lacking the financial flexibility to absorb late (or, worse still, missed) payments, and the loss of major clients, it’s wise in this unstable landscape to think about where efficiency and cost-saving gains can be made elsewhere. Thereby protecting small businesses (to some extent) from larger problems.

Want to know if your phone system is holding you back or helping you to fly? Read our eGuide to find a system that can help you unleash the true potential of your business.

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Want to know if your phone system is holding you back or helping you to fly? Read our eGuide to find a system that can help you unleash the true potential of your business

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A very ‘Brexit’ future

Of course, all of this is taking place in the shadow of one of the biggest variables affecting small businesses – Brexit negotiations and the yet-to-be-realised impact they will have.

The big Brexit questions facing SMEs touch on all the obvious themes: the value of the pound and the negotiation of trade deals, for example, and the impact both of these will have on SMEs’ ability to import and export goods; freedom of movement and its impact on SMEs’ access to (and retention of) highly-skilled European workers; and so on.

Combined with big business issues, Brexit makes 2018 a very uncertain time for SMEs, with budgets being squeezed and business leaders becoming increasingly hesitant. As such, it’s essential that they focus on making efficiency savings to set themselves up for the best possible success in a hard to navigate future.

Telephony and IT solutions are an obvious place to do this. Every business uses these services, so deriving efficiency gains from them makes total sense.

Making simple changes can have a big impact. Replacing a traditional ISDN network with SIP trunking, for example, gives SMEs an affordable, reliable, flexible telephony service, allowing them to make significant savings on both line rental and call costs. Or choosing a fully hosted phone system allows them to benefit from a flexible and scalable service that grows with the business, as well as a whole host of productivity enhancing features – meaning that whatever the external market conditions, businesses are always able to react in the right way.

Save time, save money

In uncertain times, it’s vital for SMEs to do more with less. By saving money at the same time as becoming more flexible and reliable, small businesses can find a guaranteed route to efficiency savings, as well as an upturn in business performance overall.

Want to know if your phone system is holding you back or helping you to fly? Read our eGuide to find a system that can help you unleash the true potential of your business.

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19 February 2018 | Jamie Ward

The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.