As part of your planning for the year ahead, now is a great time to review your spending and identify areas where you can save money.
Here are five key things you can do to cut costs and set yourself up for a prosperous 2018.
1. Look at your energy bills
It's at this time of year that energy bills can cause big problems for businesses that don't closely monitor them. With long hours of darkness and cold weather putting high demands on utilities such as heating and lighting, this is a great place to start when it comes to tackling everyday expenses.
Simple things such as swapping out light bulbs for more energy-efficient alternatives and ensuring all electrical devices are switched off overnight can make a big difference to a small company's bill. And don't forget to keep an eye out for a better deal - just like in the consumer energy market, there are great savings to be had if you shop around.
Try an energy comparison site to see if you can get a better deal. The likes of uSwitch and Compare the Market aren't just for householders - they have dedicated options for small businesses too.
2. Office expenses add up
Seemingly small things such as printer ink, stationery and postage costs may not look like big items on the balance sheet, but they can quickly add up. Even the smallest business can find itself spending thousands of pounds a month if it has to send out large numbers of letters or parcels to customers.
To tackle these costs, consider whether you can go digital. For example, emailing documents won't just save on postage, but also cut down on paper and ink requirements.
Going paperless in your office is easier than you think, as there are a range of mobile apps for just this purpose. Evernote, for example, has an offering that lets you easily annotate and share digital versions of documents, while there are also tools available that let you scan docs to your mobile and accept digital signatures like HelloSign.
3. Have the right tools
When it comes to your IT needs, buying licences for software such as accountancy tools and customer relationship management can be very costly for small firms. However, there are a range of low-cost and even free applications that small businesses can use to complete everyday tasks without breaking the bank.
Web and cloud-based tools can offer all the functionality businesses need at much lower cost than would be required for traditional licences. Whether it's bookkeeping, setting up a website or even putting together a presentation, ask yourself if you really need that premium application.
If you need to keep an eye on your finances without breaking the bank, try a free accounting package such as Wave. Or if you need more functionality, Sage offers cost-effective paid-for tools for small businesses and you can get an exclusive discount with them through our MyOffers programme.
4. Focus on your staff
One of the biggest costs for small businesses is the hiring and training of new staff, as this can take up a much larger proportion of a company's overall budget than in larger firms. Therefore, consider whether it will be more effective to upskill your existing employees, or even turn to freelancers where possible.
When hiring is necessary, how about incentivising your existing employees to help by offering bonuses for successful recommendations? And once people are on board, keeping them happy with options such as flexible working can pay dividends to your business in the long run.
Tools such as Perkbox offer a range of offers and discounts to share with your workers - everything from cinema tickets to gym memberships.
5. Reassess your communications
As is the case with energy costs, you should explore which options are available to see if you can find a better deal for essential communications solutions such as phone lines and internet connectivity. You can save your business money by switching. Why not check out our Broadband and Fibre sale here and see how much you can save.