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As an SME, your budget is crucial. It is the difference between growth, stagnation, and going bust. Once you’ve worked out your profit margins and your expected returns, one of the most difficult things is knowing how much of this to reinvest in your company, because of the sheer amount of things that you need to pay for.
On top of the obvious stock prices, workspace rent, equipment and employee wages, there’s the energy prices, waste collections and an abundance of other things that many people don’t usually consider when starting a business. Then there’s marketing, which can seem like a bottomless pit of money to those who maybe aren’t fully versed in it.
In this guide, we will detail what you should look for from four of these areas, where you can save, and how much you should be spending.
With equipment like computers, appliances and other things, there’s always an option to go on any online store to find the best deals. Unfortunately, with card payment terminals, this isn’t the same. To start taking card payments, you have to go through a provider, much like with your gas and electricity. They usually charge through two methods:
A transaction fee is the small charge (1-3% in most cases) that is taken from all payments that come through the card machine. This can vary slightly based on the type of card the machine takes, with credit cards requiring a slightly larger percentage than Visa or Mastercard.
This method ensures that the card machine supplier can make profits proportional to how the business is performing. Many suppliers who operate in merchant services charge a lower rate, between 1-2% (some offering the same flat rate for credit and debit), while major banks are usually around 3%.
Monthly fees aren’t a guarantee, but it is common practice from some suppliers. This can be for a number of reasons, for example, if they need reassurances that they’ll make enough profit from a store that doesn’t make many card sales.
This monthly fee is dependent on the number of machines you want, as well as the cards they accept. This is usually £10-20 per month, with some outliers in special circumstances.
On top of this, there are usually upfront costs to cover the price of the machine itself, in the region of around £50 on average, but can be much more for a ultra-modern machine. Other small usage fees may be included based on the circumstances, but aren’t a certainty.
This will all be detailed in the contract you receive from your device provider, and you can find the cheapest one through our free online quote form at https://businesscostcomparison.co.uk/business-card-payments
Unless you’re a newborn company, your already-existent budget is the best indicator of how to optimise your marketing spend, as more data means more confidence. The more information you have on each sector of marketing, and the return on investment (ROI) it brings, the more informed you are for making decisions down the line.
For example, if you know that you spend X amount on Google Ads, X amount on Facebook PPC and X amount on Twitter, and Google Ads are the only method pulling a profit, it’d be wise to spend more on Google, and less/nothing on the other two. Obviously, the platform isn’t the only reason the Facebook/ Twitter campaigns could be failing, but conversion numbers should never be ignored.
What you should prioritise is dependent on how new your company is. The newer companies should put their focus on social media, blogs and organic SEO to build brand awareness. If you’re a company with a secure and steady stream of money, it may be time to increase your company’s customer base with paid promotion, including social media advertising and PPC ads.
Organic is possible to do effectively for free, but takes a lot of time and know-how. Social media is a game of keeping up with algorithms and hashtags, visual branding takes some experience in graphic design, and content-writing is a full time job in and of itself. If you are up for it, great! If not, it may be beneficial to hire a marketing company to do this. They usually charge per package, and a package varies wildly from agency to agency. You can expect a decent organic SEO service to be in the region of £1000-£5000, and a social media package to be in the region of £100 per platform monthly, but again this can vary based on the reputation and size of the company.
The higher-risk, higher-reward method is the route of paid ads. The cost of this is mostly up to you, with a general rule being the more you spend, the more you can expect to make off the back of it. Marketing companies tend to charge for paid ads in brackets, based on how much you plan on spending.
Across all of the professional industries, the average overall marketing spend is around 5-15% percent of a business’s revenue. As long as you’re somewhere within this range, you should be alright.
Business energy does have the same companies that you may have running your gas or electricity at home, but that’s where the similarities seem to end. Unlike household energy, where the customer chooses from a number of the supplier’s default packages, commercial energy is more personal to you and your business. When you enquire for business energy, you receive a bespoke quote based on your area, sector, type of energy and company size, and more. This is why it’s quite difficult to get an instant price.
In a business energy quote, there are two main costs; the unit cost and the standing charge.
They are the price per kWh of energy that your business uses, and a per-day price that covers your business’s share of the country’s energy management, namely sustaining the national grid and transporting energy to your business.
The average yearly cost of business electricity, according to uSwitch, is around £900-£2,244 for a micro-business, £2,367-£3,660 for a small business, and £3,774-£7,234 for medium-sized ones.
For business gas, these figures are £400-£820, £820-£1,458 and £1,458-£2,239 respectively.
This means you can expect to be paying anywhere in the region of £108-£789 monthly, depending mostly on the size of your business.
You can speak to our consultant and find the cheapest energy deal for your business at: businesscostcomparison.co.uk/business-energy
To save on energy costs once you’ve signed your contract, we created our own guide on saving, which is available at: https://businesscostcomparison.co.uk/business-energy-ultimate-guide/
For business waste, it is quite useful to know where the costs come from, to know where you can save.
Your charges first of all based on your business’s location, the size of the bin(s) you require, and how many you need. Some business types may also be eligible for cheaper collections from the government, for example charities and nurseries, but not from private suppliers. Recycling may also hold a different rate to general waste. These are the costs that vary the most, but other than that, there are some other fees and taxes:
The government currently charges a tax for the waste that goes to landfill, to save space and the environment. This is charged per ton, and differs across England, Scotland and Wales. It is also split into two rates, one of which being for ‘inactive waste’ for things like rocks and soil, the other is for waste that doesn’t instantly become a part of the landscape. The current rate in England and Northern Ireland is £2.90 per tonne for inactive waste, and £91.35 for other waste.
Admin fees are added to pay for the labour of those processing the payments. Each time you move a load of non-hazardous waste, your business needs either an invoice or a waste transfer note, and this is covered by the admin fee.
The gate fee is what is charged upon entry to the waste sorting facility or landfill. This depends on how much waste is handed in.
If you own a company that creates and throws away only its own waste, you won’t need to pay for a waste carrier license. If you use other business’s waste, or if another business handles yours, you will have to pay a £154 registration fee for a waste carrier license.
While the suppliers choose the prices, there are some things that you can do to save on your waste collection:
With this information, you can also learn whether there’s anything worth keeping from your waste. For example, if you’re a construction company who throws away a lot of wood, could you process it into sawdust and use it for patching up holes in planks, or for absorbing spills on site?
Recycling is cheaper than sending waste to landfill, so recycling not only helps save the planet, but helps save you money too!
If you can create a low-waste culture in your workplace, there is a lot of money to be saved. Teaching your staff about reusing bottles and making sure there are metal reusable cutlery in the kitchen are two examples of small changes that will be good for planet and pocket.
A business loan might sound like something people may only use as a last resort, but they can be used wisely for any business for a number of reasons. Those include:
These loans take on a slightly different set of terms to personal loans, but the basis is the same. With a business loan, you can generally borrow £1000-£3m, depending on business revenue, and you usually have somewhere between a month and 15 years to pay it off, which you can choose based on eligibility.
There are many types of business loans, but all of these different loans are grouped into either:
Businesses have a credit score, similar to one that you have as a person. This may affect whether or not you are eligible for the type of loan you’ve applied for.
Depending on the sector your business operates in, there are many different types of loans. The main types for most businesses include:
This is where your business can borrow a lump sum from the bank or building society, and pay it back over an agreed time period. If this isn’t paid back, it regularly comes back to the directors.
A business credit facility is quite similar to an overdraft. When your business needs some extra money, you can take the amount you need and pay it back (plus interest) when you next have the funds.
Peer-to-peer is a type of loan offered by online investors looking for a return on their investment. This also may include a directors’ guarantee, where the duty falls on them in the case of non-payment.
A short-term loan will have higher interest rates, but are easier to get, and you can borrow from just a couple of days to a few months. The interest rates are monthly, however, so make sure you know much much you’ll have to pay back.
Invoice finance is where a lender pays off everything that your business is owed by customers, with a small fee taken off. This is done in two ways, one of which is where the lender releases the funds before the invoices are paid, and you owe them the amount back. The other is factoring, where the lender continues to manage your sales after the loan, and takes all of the money that is owed as customers begin to pay it back.
A working capital loan is designed to help pay for the day to day running costs of your business, for example paying wages, rather than for long term investments. A working capital loan is a smaller loan, which again is guaranteed by a company director. Unlike other types of loan, they aren’t used to buy any large or long-term growth. They are instead used for short-term, day-to-day costs.
A business cash advance is a lump sum that is given to a business owner, and paid back from a percentage of the sales the business makes from their card machines. These usually use a set fee instead of an interest rate.
The government also provides loans or grants for new businesses, with lower interest rates. You can check your eligibility and learn more about these here:
To make sure you’re paying the least for business loans, it helps to know how much you need to borrow, and what the most suitable type of loan would be for your needs. If you only need a small amount to hire some workers or buy some office supplies, a shorter term loan would leave you paying less interest. If you need to pay for something larger, longer term loans give you an opportunity to pay much lower repayments, which can help you maintain your cash flow. There are a lot of variables, so it’s definitely best to do some research and find out what will save you the most.
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