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How to fight the rising cost of doing business

Recent research from the Forum has suggested that business costs rose again in 2012, with energy costs providing the biggest hike. Though price rises are, unfortunately, inevitable in the current climate, there are a number of things you can do to give your business the best chance of survival.

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Recent research from the Forum has suggested that business costs rose again in 2012, with energy costs providing the biggest hike. Though price rises are, unfortunately, inevitable in the current climate, there are a number of things you can do to give your business the best chance of survival. In the last Referendum survey, member firms told us that they were facing an uphill struggle to make ends meet. 94% of respondents reported an overall increase in business costs, with energy, transport, marketing and raw materials topping the costliest areas. Worryingly, 86% of business owners said that they were unable to pass the rising costs on to customers, so are either absorbing the cost or trying to negotiate savings. Energy The best way to get the best deal on your business gas and electricity is to know your contract renewal dates. When your current contract comes to an end, you should be in the perfect position to ask for the lowest price available. Don't always be swayed by the cheapest introductory offer. You need to make sure that you're getting the best deal across the life of your contract. The Forum works with a utilities broker who can help members find the best deal for their business. Find out more about utilities savings or call us on 0845 130 1722. It's also worth being aware that microbusinesses have some of the same rights as consumers, such as access to Ofgem's strict complaint handling standards, a compensation scheme run by the Energy Ombudsman and help from consumer watchdog Consumer Futures if they feel that that they have been unfairly treated by an energy company. Telecoms Telecoms like phone and broadband can often involve hidden costs and rollover clauses, so it's worth reviewing your contracts to see where you can make savings, perhaps by consolidating all of your services into one bill. There are also innovative ways to make savings, such as by making phone calls through your broadband connection. Raw materials and stock You can try negotiating costs with suppliers, but understand that they may be feeling the pinch also. One option is to pool your resources with other businesses in order to buy in bulk and drive down the cost of a purchase. You could also look at using raw materials, packaging, etc. more efficiently to save money. If you have a lot of wastage, could this be reused or resold? Or could you improve your processes so that less material goes to waste? Business supplies The cost of general business supplies, such as stationery and cleaning products, may not break the bank, but every little saving can help. Members of the Forum have free buying group membership (worth £495) and can access a free purchasing appraisal to see where they can save money. Promotional costs One way to counteract rising costs is, obviously, to sell more, but that's difficult to do without finding new customers or convincing those that you have to spend more with you. You can only do this through effective marketing and promotion. You may think that marketing has to be expensive, but there are plenty of things you can do for little or no money to promote your business. Read our tips for marketing your business on a shoestring » To find out how the Forum can help your business save money with brokerage services and advice, call us now on 0845 130 1722.

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