3 Simple Money-Saving Tips for Start-Ups

The UK is the start-up capital of Europe. In fact, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Index, we are an impressive fourth out of 130 countries worldwide for entrepreneurial activity, beaten only by the US, Canada and Australia. By early November 2014 over 500,000 start-ups had opened in the UK, a month earlier than the same threshold was reached in 2013, and StartUp Britain expects another record-breaking year in 2015.

A report by data research firm Duedil and the Enterprise Nation network last year suggests that growth is likely to come from young entrepreneurs: in 2006, pre-recession, about 145,000 companies were started by people under 35. By 2013 that number had leapt to nearly 250,000 – almost half of all new businesses. However, only 26% of these were started by young women.

But how can these future champions of industry help ensure their start-up capital goes further? Simple: follow the three S’s:

1. StartSMALL

The key to keeping your costs down is to take up no more space than is absolutely necessary. The old industry standard of 100 square feet per person can now be reduced by as much as 15% thanks to space saving office furniture, the ascendance of energy-efficient, multi-purpose office equipment and the increased reliance on digital document storage.

Smaller office, smaller bills

In an era when property prices are soaring and office space (plus business rates and service charges) can cost as much as £141 per square foot per year in London, the best big ideas shouldn’t need a big footprint. And there is another advantage to smaller, less energy-hungry spaces. According to the Close Brothers Business Barometer, 59% of UK SMEs said the number one reason for spiralling operating costs in 2014 was increased energy bills.

2. Work SMART

Paper costs money, takes up space and is bad for the environment. But while very few of us are ready for the completely paperless office, there are lots of affordable ways to reduce the amount you use.

Keep a digital archive

Don’t squander money and space on filing cabinets and storage, simply scan documents you need to keep. Time-saving double sided scanners like these from Staples, make it easy to save important paperwork as PDFs and keep it on a local server for speedy access and backed up to the cloud for disaster recovery.

Set up paperless faxing

Old fashioned as it may seem, some industries still rely on faxed documents for some procedures. But fortunately the technology has moved on – many multi-function printers can email incoming faxes as a PDF file to your PC. So not only are you saving on paper, you’ll never miss a message.

Sign up for digital signatures

Probably the last thing holding us back from going paperless is the need for signatures. Whether it’s approvals or contracts, for internal paperwork a system relying on email should be sufficient. For external documents, Adobe Reader lets you embed a digital signature with your finger on a touch pad without printing anything, and SignNow and SignEasy do the same for your smartphone or tablet. But seek proper advice before replacing important legal documents with digital-only versions.

Swap your notepads for tablets

With the proliferation of affordable tablets like the Memo Pad 7 from Asus, and collaborative note-taking apps ranging from SimpleNotes to EverNote and Microsoft OneNote, there’s really no need for sketchpads and note books. You can save all your notes to the cloud to share and review, and link your tablets to a monitor or TV for presentations and brainstorming sessions.


Finally, if your business succeeds, you need to be able to expand and grow easily. Working on laptops rather than PCs means you can work from home, hot-desk and move staff around as required. Having all your information stored in the cloud and using hosted software such as Microsoft Office Live or Google Docs makes it easy to add new staff, and for them to access your resources and get to work wherever they are.

Also consider outsourcing non-core functions such as finance and human resources. Developing all the expertise you need in-house will be slow and expensive, so delegate those roles to people who are already up to speed and able to help. It will leave you more working capital to get your enterprise off the ground, and you can always bring these resources in-house later once you’re more established if necessary.

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