Blog Post by Oval Money guest blogger Irma Hunkeler

Whether the economy is up or down, businesses of all sizes need to keep a close eye on their expenditures. Given that they can’t rely on anyone else for support, it is vital that small businesses are always on the lookout for ways they can conserve cash - every penny saved may prove helpful in the long run.

Here are five ways in which your small business can save money; from changing the way you consume energy, to encouraging your employees to be more financially savvy.

1. Be energy-efficient

One way to make really significant cuts to your expenditure is to overhaul your energy consumption and switch to greener, leaner, methods.

You could do this by:
a. Reducing your office temperature settings by just 1°C. This would cut your heating bill.
b. Switch to energy-saving lightbulbs.
c. If you print a lot of documents, print on both sides to save energy (and paper).
d. Delivering post by bicycle or electric vehicle.

The government estimates that the average small firm could reduce its energy bill by 18-25%, so why not give it a try? It’s one of the most surefire ways of saving cash.

2. Encourage your workforce to save money

While you might be looking for solutions to cutting costs, are your employees doing the same? Encouraging them to help find ways in which the company can tighten the purse strings, however small, is a no-brainer.

If you have the resources, you could organise a workplace investment scheme or offer your employees suggestions on how they could save money – such as cycling to work in order to cut commuting costs.

After all, people have an appetite for saving. This infographic by Wink Bingo for example illustrates that even if they win a fairly modest £50 playing online casino games, most people would choose to stick it in the bank rather than spend it.

3. Hire freelancers for specific projects and jobs

The growing number of people opting to go freelance is not only of benefit to them - it’s good for businesses too. It allows them to use freelance resources as and when they need them, for particular jobs and projects.

Head to sites like PeoplePerHour and Upworkand you will find thousands of freelancers specialising in everything, from cyber security, to copywriting, to business development.

The big advantage for businesses is that they only have to hire in staff when they need them - you can use a freelancer for, say, a three-month project at an agreed rate, then that’s it. It’s much cheaper than having permanent staff.

4. Buy refurbished IT equipment

Need some new computers but don’t want to spend thousands? Consider buying some refurbished laptops, desktops and tablet PCs. Nearly all the major IT providers, from Dell to Apple, offer refurbished and remanufactured products at much cheaper prices than their brand-new cousins.

What’s more, most come with the same warranty and support as you would get if you bought a full-price version.

5. Recycle, recycle, recycle

Lots of companies get rid of their waste via landfill - but it comes at a cost. According to the Federation of Small Businesses, the current standard landfill charge is £82.60 per tonne.

However, as much as 90 per cent of all waste could in fact be recycled, according to The Food Waste Network. Naturally, recycling costs far less than landfill, so this is a great way for you to save money.

If you haven’t got them already, buy some recycling bins - or see if your local authority will provide some - and start recycling as much as you can. Encourage your staff to recycle as much as possible too, and you’ll soon start seeing some real savings.

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Piece of Irma Hunkeler - Irma works for BlueGlass, a digital marketing agency. Her experience includes working for clients in different industries such as travel, retail, recruitment, technology and charitable institutions. Extensive networking and meeting professionals across different industries, allow her to collaborate with industry experts for her writing