It has been a difficult few years for small businesses and although redundancies have often been in the headlines, there are a number of other options open to you that will help reduce costs whilst also ensuring you maintain a strong and healthy business.
A recent study undertaken by YouGov for the Department for Business (BIS) found that 40 per cent of small businesses bosses have made changes this year, or plan to before the end of the year, to ensure their business is adapting to the business environment. Furthermore, over three quarters (77 per cent) of these businesses report they feel confident this has meant their business will be stronger in 2010 than in 2009 as a result.
The study was conducted as BIS launches a new downloadable desktop tool – Employment Law Organiser – to help bosses manage their HR obligations and any changes to their businesses.
Here, BIS has provided Bytestart readers with five top tips, outlining some of the proactive ways bosses can manage change to their business and feel confident to manage these changes themselves:
Explore alternatives to redundancy. By maintaining your skilled staff through the difficult times, you may be in a better place to capitalise when things pick up again.
Many bosses know that the people they work with are key to their business success. The BIS study found that over 60 per cent of changes that bosses are making this year relate to their workforce. This includes adjusting staff working hours (26 per cent ), adjusting staff roles (19 per cent) and recruiting new staff (15 per cent ).
Small businesses are in a prime position to be flexible – 89 per cent of those surveyed agree that they have an opportunity to adapt to the changing economic circumstances by virtue of the greater flexibility they have over larger businesses.
Invest in your staff
Give your staff the right support. A third (33 per cent) of bosses report this year increasing investment in training, motivation or staff rewards. This may help to ensure you secure the loyalty of your staff and that everyone is focused on the common goals ahead.
Explore growth areas
Look to new growth areas to push your products and services.
More than two thirds of those surveyed (64 per cent) are exploring new product areas and a third (35 per cent) said that they have adapted their business to capitalise on a new growth area. Many successful bosses will be looking for the next opportunity to grow and strengthen their business.
Make use of free advice
Manage changes to your business yourself and stay in control of your obligations. In the BIS study, 87 per cent of respondents who have made changes this year managed them in-house instead of paying external consultants for help. The bosses that did this reported this has given them greater confidence to run their own business (57 per cent) but that it also helped them keep down unnecessary costs (68 per cent).
The Department for Business aims to reduce the administrative burden of employment law, by giving businesses access to free, easy to use, tools and information that it has placed on the Business Link website. The free guidance will help bosses manage changes and help comply with their obligations.