Finance tips SMESMEs’ needs are different both to those of individual freelancers and to those of big corporations. Here are some finance tips to help SMEs deal with the issues of pensions, loans and money-saving in general.

1. Pensions

Arguably the most important money-saving tip of all is to make sure that you are fulfilling all of your obligations under the auto-enrolment scheme. By this point in time, all companies with 30 or more employees should already have a work-place pension scheme running (with some exceptions for newer employers). Smaller companies will be obligated to join up in the near future. Since auto-enrolment is mandatory whether companies like it or not, it may be worth getting some professional advice on what specific options may minimise its cost to your company. Steps could include anything from passing out more work to freelancers, to phasing in your contributions at the minimum level permitted by law to deferring the enrolment of specific employees, to using salary exchange to pay contributions. To stay on the right side of the law and to make the most of the options available to you, it may be best to consult an expert.

2. Loans

Business finance for SMEs has been a simmering topic for years and the credit crunch has made it even more of an issue. Where conventional lenders hesitate, alternative lenders step in. For SMEs therefore, there are two keys to getting finance. The first is to make themselves as attractive a customer as possible. This is about more than just showing that your income is more than your expenses. It’s also about showing responsibility and consistency, for example always remembering to make payments on time. The second is about being ready to look beyond the established high-street lenders. Even if they’re prepared to offer loans, there may be far better deals available elsewhere.

3. Money saving in general

It may seem trite, but saving money starts with ensuring that you are protected against risks which could damage or even destroy your business, so start by making sure that you have enough of the right insurance cover, such as Employers’ Liability insurance and Public Liability insurance. Also make sure that you are clearly following all relevant laws such as Health and Safety laws and Equality and Diversity legislation. Breaking these laws, even unintentionally, can lead to fines, which can ruin a small business.
After this, many of the ways in which businesses can save money are similar to the ways in which private individuals can save money. Start by looking at basic bills such as energy and water. If you’re renting or leasing premises, then you may be slightly constrained by what your landlord will do, but you’ll only find out if you ask. Landlords tend to prefer to keep good tenants and if your request is reasonable, you may well find they’re prepared to act on it. Even with the constraints of renting, however, you may find that when you look into the matter, there are energy-saving measures old and new, which can make a difference. Old-fashioned draft-excluders can make a significant difference to heating bills, while modern energy-efficient mini-PCs are more than capable of most office tasks and need very little electricity to power them. On the subject of PCs, using services like Skype numbers can allow businesses to combine the solid impression given by a landline telephone number, with the cost-efficiency of internet telephony. This can offer substantial savings over using a traditional telephone system.