By Nadine Bourne

Austerity. You’ll have seen this word a lot over the last decade in the media as governments, companies and especially individuals are cutting back on their spending. So as a small business, if one of your resolutions is to adopt an austerity programme, one of the best places to start is your business. All you need is a dash of imagination and a few ideas to begin cutting back spending on your business telecoms and utility bills that bleed dry your bank account every month.

Here are five tips to help get you started:
1) Switch to direct debit and paperless billing
A quick win is to check your telecoms and utility bills for any extra charges. Utility companies like to make sure they pass on the cost of service for certain types of customers - which is bad news if you don’t make regular monthly direct debits to clear your account, or if you haven’t signed up to paperless billing. To get these charges removed, simply switch your preferences to automatic payments and/or paperless billing – the added bonuses of course being you are less likely to miss a payment and receive unwanted letters on your doormat.
2) Don’t pay for telephone calls
Back in the old days, everyone paid for every single telephone call they made, but these days most plans include unlimited calls. Simply contact your telephone company and check which calls are unlimited and included in the deal. That way you can get the best quality calls, but only pay a small fixed price for them.
3) Switch contracts when they expire
The larger utility players make money by increasing your charges when your fixed term contract with them expires, or by simply offering the best deals only to new customers. This means you can save money by making sure you switch tariffs whenever your current contract expires. An easy way to make sure you remember is to use your work calendar to set a reminder for the end of your contract – even if it’s two years away, you’ll get the reminder and remember to find a new provider.
4) Insulation
An easy saving to make on your energy bills is through insulation. It costs very little to have someone come in to your office and fill your ceilings and floors with insulation, yet the winter savings (and summer if you have air conditioning) can be substantial. The biggest problem is getting the timing to book an installer right – everyone tends to want insulation just as winter hits and the heating turns on. Why not book one immediately – or set another reminder for the summer months when installation is both cheap and easily available?
5) Low energy lightbulbs
Another easy energy saver is to switch over your entire building’s lightbulbs from the traditional type to the new low energy bulbs. Low energy lightbulbs got a bad reputation a few years ago as they were very slow to get going and the light they provided was harsh. Nowadays the light they give is just as good as traditional ones and their turn-on times are better too. So why not switch over and see your electricity costs fall?