Innovation and enterprise blog

05 September 2016

Tips guaranteed to cut your bills


Entrepreneurs inevitably spend more time thinking about sales rather than savings when starting a business. But given how challenging it is to run a start-up or small business, it’s fair to say that we don’t devote enough time to keeping our costs low. SMEs all over the UK are overpaying on their core services – and overpaying by hundreds of pounds. That can be the difference between success and failure.

So here, we provide a series of simple tips guaranteed to save you money on your business essentials.

Switch to save

Last year, the Department for Energy & Climate Change said that £2.7 billion was up for grabs by switching energy supplier. That announcement reinforced what many already knew – that thousands of small businesses and residential customers were losing money simply by not taking the time to look at deals from other suppliers.

The same rules apply across broadband, card processing, mobile and more – there is money to be saved everywhere, and a huge amount of options in every sector. uSwitch have reported instances of broadband bills jumping 400% when contracts have rolled over, and that’s why switching matters – it keeps your bills affordable, and your suppliers on their toes.

Pay by Direct Debit

This is one of those simple, easily forgotten extras that continue to cost businesses money.

Most suppliers will charge you a small processing fee every month if you choose not to pay by Direct Debit. This is a no-brainer – if you’re paying manually, contact your supplier and change to Direct Debit today.

Combine gas and electricity suppliers

It’s very common for energy suppliers to offer favourable deals to customers that choose them for both gas and electricity. So when you’re choosing an energy supplier, ensure you consider this option to get the very best price.

Use energy efficiently

Reducing the temperature of your heating by just one degree can reduce your energy bill by 10%. That’s the thing with energy use – small savings make a massive difference.

There are all kinds of things you can do to cut your energy use – here are just a few suggestions:

  • Use LED lights, which use 80% less electricity and last much longer
  • Turn everything off at night – even on standby mode, computers, kitchen appliances and photocopiers will continue to use energy
  • Kitchen appliances use an enormous amount of energy, so try to ensure you have modern equipment which is typically more energy efficient

Assess your business needs before choosing a supplier

Whether you’re buying card processing services or insurance, it’s easy to get distracted by flashy promotions. So before looking at anything, think carefully about what your business actually needs.

When choosing a phone and broadband package, think about how much you use a landline – the time of day you make calls, and whether you call mobiles or premium numbers. This will help you choose the right package – not simply the headline offer.

For card processing, think about the type of terminal you’ll need. Different costs and rates apply to countertop, portable and mobile machines – so carefully consider the terminal you need.

And for insurance, it’s all about choosing the option that suits your industry. Do you, for example, need Public Liability Insurance? Because if not, it’s an expensive addition to your policy.

In all cases, it really pays to understand everything about your business before you start shopping. You can find out everything you need to know in this handy guide.

Check your broadband speed

A classic error small business owners make when choosing a broadband supplier is not knowing the speed they can actually get.

Speeds vary wildly across the UK. It’s not uncommon, for example, to be in an area that can get superfast fibre but that can’t get a decent standard broadband speed. In this case, getting fibre really would pay dividends.

You don’t need to be a broadband expert by any means – you just need to know your speed. You can find this quickly and easily by using this internet speed checker.

Audit your bills

Financial advisors offer large, established businesses a service called a ‘utility bill audit’. And you can do your own – quickly, and best of all, for free.

You’ll need copies of your last few bills for each of your major outgoings – so phone, broadband, energy, insurance, water, card processing and anything similar. Go through each, and start to look at the detail in each bill.

Firstly, look for charges. If you understand the charge you’re looking at, that’s fine. But make a note of any you don’t, and follow up on them. Then, look at the bill totals, and try to look out for patterns. Have there been spikes? And if so, can you account for them?

If, for example, your phone bill has spiked, look at the numbers you were calling during the period in question. This may suggest that you should change your phone package to include monthly minutes to certain number types.

And finally, use an average of your monthly bills to help inform a price comparison online for each service. This will give you an excellent idea of whether you’re getting a good deal, and how much you could save.


XLN is a partner of the British Library Business & IP Centre and provides phone, broadband, energy and card processing services exclusively to small businesses. Since 2002 it’s helped more than 250,000 start-ups and SMEs to cut the cost of their monthly bills. If you run a start-up or small business, browse their cut-price deals – like 12 months’ free broadband – at