Ten top tips for a successful small business – including having social media and a renewable energy provider

Owners of SMEs which have grown over the last two years have shared their top tips on how to survive – and thrive – during tough economic times.

Jordan Perata from Kilo, a zero-waste shop in North London, Josh Kay from experiential design agency The Syrup Room in Bournemouth, and Tash Gorst from Gather, a social enterprise in Peckham, have all seen their companies prosper during the last two years.

A key survival tactic for Tash at Gather was being able to pivot the company’s organisations quickly.

For example, increasing their social media presence and providing a ‘click and collect’ service for vulnerable customers.

Gaining the customer’s trust and keeping them informed of any changes were also pivotal in trading during the pandemic.

All the businesses have also taken measures to become smart with their energy usage to lower their overheads amid rising costs.

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Standard light fixtures at Jordan’s London shop have been replaced with LEDs and the store runs solely on renewable resources.

Similarly, The Syrup Room uses a fleet of only electric cars and vans.

Tash, from Gather, said: “As a business with an environmental mission, we're hyper aware of our energy use.

“For the sake of the planet and future generations, we all need to use less energy, and be more efficient with the energy we do use.

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“We limit our electrical items to the core few that are essential to our business, and when buying new we only go for efficient models.

“Whenever something's not in use, we turn it off at the wall – nothing is left on standby, ever.”

It comes after a study of 500 SME owners found 23% already had, or requested, a smart meter installation in the last six months – to help them to better control their business’ energy costs.

It also found high start-up costs, managing day-to-day overheads, long workdays, and lack of marketing know-how are the main obstacles when starting a business.

A fifth of the small business owners by Smart Energy GB regularly work a 12-hour day – with a quarter admitting getting no holidays was the hardest thing about their first year of trading.

Nearly three in 10 are also taking much more notice of their energy consumption throughout the day, while a quarter have looked into using cheaper, greener energy sources and smart devices.

Victoria Bacon from Smart Energy GB said: “When you’re focussing on trying to keep a business running smoothly, anything that helps make the day-to-day challenges a bit easier can be a welcome relief.

“Smart meters send accurate energy readings direct to your supplier so you don’t have to, freeing up more of your time to focus on other areas of your business."

The research also found 43% of those polled have cut down on their overheads by encouraging staff to work from home more.

Another 45% used any potential downtime to try and amp up their social media presence, to help drum up business.

Encouragingly, more than four in 10 have managed to grow over a turbulent two years by pivoting their business and embracing new ways of generating revenue.

But 46% believe they are still a few years away from accomplishing their business goals.

The top goal for 35% over the next year is simply to bring in more money, followed by updating the company website (29%) generating returning customers (27%).

Only one in four say their top goal in the next 12 months is to actually reduce their working hours, according to the OnePoll.com results.

Victoria Bacon added: “Despite the disruption many businesses have faced over the last two years, nearly half were able to grow by making changes in direction.

“But there are also simple things that businesses can do to help deal with a changing world, that don’t require major adjustments."

Top 10 tips for a successful business, according to Gather, Kilo and The Syrup Room:

  1. Replace standard light fixtures with LEDs to reduce energy consumption
  2. Switch to a renewable energy provider
  3. Request a smart meter from your business’ energy supplier to ensure your bills are accurate
  4. Keep your outgoings low wherever possible
  5. Don't wait until everything's 'perfect' to start something
  6. Be flexible and quickly adapt to changes
  7. Communicate changes to loyal customers
  8. Increase social media presence to help find new customers
  9. Be patient and break your goals down into smaller achievable actions
  10. Make sure your appliances are working efficiently

Top 10 SME goals in the next 12 months:

  1. To bring in more money
  2. To build a new/updated website
  3. To generate returning customers
  4. To decrease working hours
  5. To reach a new customer base
  6. To break even
  7. To release new products
  8. Simply survive the year
  9. To give money back to the local area/community
  10. To reduce my energy consumption

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