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How to beat the cost-of-living crisis as a small business owner

Ahead of Small Business Saturday this weekend, initiative supporter Solopress, online printing specialists in everything from flyers and leaflets to stickers and labels, explores five ways to help a small business beat the rising cost of living crisis.

Small businesses are essential to the fabric of our nation. In fact, recent research reveals that they are responsible for 61 per cent of all employment in the UK.

On December 3 we celebrate their contribution to the UK and encourage consumers to shop locally with the non-commercial campaign Small Business Saturday.

Amidst the burgeoning cost-of-living crisis, it has never been more important to support local businesses. Inflation is rapidly rising, with the Customer Prices Index (CPI) report showing the national inflation rate is at its highest since the report was first produced in 1997, averaging at 11.1 per cent in October 2022.

In turn, this presents a number of challenges for small businesses. But there are ways small businesses can beat the rising cost of living crisis.

Access support from Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)

In the face of uncertainty, many small business owners will be searching for ways to collaborate with the wider community. Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) bring together businesses, the public, third sector and academia to make this possible. In fact, the country’s 38 LEPs support over two million businesses.

Save money on energy prices by switching to a fixed contract

Energy prices have escalated as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. Shocking data from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed that electricity costs increased by an average of 349 per cent between February 2021 and August 2022.

To address this issue, the government has introduced a six-month scheme that will benefit businesses in the UK. The Energy Bill Relief Scheme will reduce electricity prices to £211 per MWh and gas prices to £75 per MWh. It is worth noting, however, that the level of support will vary depending on whether your business is on a fixed, variable or deemed contract.

If you’re on a fixed contract, you will receive a discount of the difference between your current plan and the government-supported price (£211 MWh for electricity and £75MWh for gas). However, there will be a maximum discount of £345 per MWh for electricity and £91 per MWh for gas if your business is on any other type of contract.

To beat the rising cost of living, small business owners who aren’t on a fixed contract should consider switching if they haven’t already done so. Due to contractual agreements, energy suppliers may not allow you to do this mid-contract; but the government has announced that it is working to ensure all businesses can switch while the scheme is in effect between October 2022 to April 2023.

Attract investors with venture capital schemes

It’s no secret that external investments enable businesses to develop. During the increasing cost of living, an investment could be the difference between businesses staying afloat and closing down. Investors are less likely to funnel money into start-up businesses, for example, during economic uncertainty. The same can be said for small businesses in their early years.

Venture capital schemes could be the saving grace you’ve been searching for. These schemes reduce taxes for investors if they’re buying shares, bonds or assets. The government has four schemes currently in place for businesses established in the UK, although it’s best to check if you’re eligible before applying.

The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), for example, is ideal for small business owners. To qualify, your business must be less than two years old, have less than 25 employees, have never been part of a different trade and have less than £200,000 in gross assets.

Enrol on a free mentorship programme with Be the Business

Small business owners understand the pressures of keeping your knowledge and skills up to date while running an organisation.

Despite all of the entrepreneurial skills you have, the cost-of-living crisis will continue to challenge your practices. This is where mentorship programmes come into the equation.

Be the Business provides free resources for small business owners to grow their organisations.

Industry professionals offer targeted support – such as action plans and guides – in leadership, strategy, planning, sales and more. These can help you grow your small business during otherwise uncertain times.

Maintain the welfare of your workforce with free online training

Last and certainly not least, investing in and supporting employees is essential. Their hard work and dedication are more essential than ever during these turbulent times. Prioritising their welfare within the workplace is important for employee wellbeing and satisfaction.

Sixty-six per cent of mental health counsellors have reported that people’s mental health is declining as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. Not only does this have the potential to reduce their quality of life, but it might also lead to struggles in the workplace. Education is everything for small business owners, and a training course may help you to boost morale and help you support your people through these trying times.

Acas has multiple online courses surrounding mental health in the workplace. If you’re a small business, you can create an account and sign up for free e-learning classes today.

Small Business Saturday takes place on Saturday, December 3. Visit https://smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com to find out how to promote your business and support others locally.