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We asked a variety of experts to share their top tips on how to choose providers, products and services, and how to save money when you’re starting up your business.

Take a look at the words of wisdom they had to offer:

Anthony Roberts, head of Vendor & Commercial Finance, FlexiGroup

How can businesses starting out save on their equipment set up costs?

Cashflow is king for any business, especially new businesses starting out. And for many businesses, leasing equipment is a great way to obtain the assets and technology needed to set up operations without disrupting business cashflow. Fixed monthly payments, which can be 100 percent tax deductible, make it easy to forecast budgets and plan expenditure accordingly. Leasing also reduces the upfront costs of purchasing and cash can be saved for other essential business expenses. Businesses can lease a range of equipment or an entire solution, depending upon requirements.

How can they start as they mean to go on by being more environmentally conscious?

Businesses can reduce electricity consumption, reduce the impact of carbon pricing on operations and reduce emissions by upgrading with energy efficient equipment. Energy efficient lighting, heating, ventilation and cooling technology will help combat rising electricity costs and help businesses remain viable in a fiercely competitive marketplace.

The first step in taking control of energy costs is to know how the business uses energy and the areas where energy use is highest. Undertaking an energy audit for your business is a good place to start. Lighting is one area where dramatic savings can be made through straightforward upgrades. Making the change from traditional office or plant floor overhead fluorescent T8 tubes to energy saving T5 tubes can cut lighting energy consumption in half.

In partnership with Low Carbon Australia, FlexiCommercial’s Energy Smart Finance Program provides cost effective finance solutions for businesses to upgrade to the latest energy efficient technology. Find out more here.

John Boniciolli, executive director of Small Business Sales and Service, Telstra

How can a startup business set up an affordable telephone and internet system and get the most value for money?

A critical success factor for small business is to be able to effectively juggle the demands of its business with minimal effort and rework. Most importantly is the need to deliver the best possible service to customers to ensure repeat custom and referrals. That entails great products, but also the ability to respond quickly. Cloud computing provides software and hardware on a pay-per-use basis, with storage, computer programs and processing available through most devices like a laptop or tablet anywhere there is an internet connection.

What should they consider when choosing a provider?

Small businesses want network performance, particularly those who are out and about on the road. New Telstra research of 1,000 Australian small to medium sized businesses shows that 47 percent of small businesses say working off-premises is necessary for servicing customers so reliability, speed and security would have to be on top of their list.

Ben Foote, Marketing & Communications director, CareerOne.com.au

Each business rises or falls on its ability to hire great staff. One of the most important qualities in hiring for small business, is acquiring smart people. Good people are hard to find and online job advertising has become the major avenue for recruiting new employees because the majority of job hunters will look for jobs on the Internet first.

CareerOne’s top recruitment tips when advertising online: 

  • Think like the job hunter when choosing your job title.
    If the words that the job hunter searches on are in your job title your online advert will achieve a better search results page position
  • Online adverts usually appear in job searches displaying a summary of the role. By describing the key benefits of the role in the first 400 characters (e.g. salary, perks, flexible working practices, nearby transport links, etc), your job posting will entice job hunters to view the entire job posting.
    • Be specific in your job description.Articulating what you need will lead to the right candidates applying to your job posting:
      • Job title
      • Salary
      • Benefits
      • Specific location
      • Key projects/tasks performed
      • Key attributes required for the job
      • How to apply

A well-defined and detailed job description will deliver more qualified job applicants.

Daryl Johnson, executive general manager, NAB Business

What should a new business consider when choosing who to bank with?

Your bank should be more than just your finance provider – they should be your business partner, taking the time to understand you, your business, your industry and your personal and business aspirations. Business owners should also seek out a business banker that understands the current economic climate and the dynamics that may affect your business. Listening to, understanding and responding to the needs of our business customers is the essence of relationship banking at NAB.

There are also many other factors to consider such as location and access, service offering, pricing and fees, specialist service and getting the fundamentals right – easy access to your money, control of expenses and the right product selection.

Is it a good idea to bank with the same bank you have your personal account with?

Unique to small businesses is the intertwining of personal and business banking needs. In many cases business owners use their residential home for security for their business loan. This means that, unlike consumers or large corporates, small businesses require their banker to advise them on their business and their personal banking needs; not one or the other. Thus, having bankers who are able to understand and support the personal and business goals and aspirations of customers is a strong value proposition for our customers.

Gary Edstein, senior vice president, DHL Express Oceania

How can startups go about getting the best deal on shipping goods to their customers

  • Know your business: Know your targets and what makes your business unique and determine the best strategy that will get you there and find a service or product that will support you in reaching your targets.
  • Create a niche: When starting out, don’t try to be all things to everyone. Concentrate your efforts on serving a niche market efficiently and cost effectively and pick and choose suppliers who can help you further promote your niche offering.
  • Be flexible: Work with suppliers who are interested in your business and see you not just as a customer, but a business partner. Find out about the support services they provide and understand how flexible they are prepared to be in their product/service offering.
  • Ask questions: Find out who a supplier’s customers are and ask them questions about the product/service you’re considering. Sometimes talking to an existing customer is the best way to understand the pros/cons of a certain product/service.

What are some easy ways for them to save on shipping?

  1. Know demand: Particularly if you’re a smaller exporter, you can save a lot of money by knowing your customer demand cycles and scheduling production to allow you to move freight in a consolidated manner. Shipping one larger box will always work out more cost effective than shipping numerous, smaller boxes.
  2. Plan in advance: Take advantage of a deferred service for deliveries that are less time sensitive in nature. You will save yourself money, but not at the detriment of the level of service you receive.
  3. Time is money: We know manual processes can be time consuming and costly, which is why we offer a range of online and desktop tools to assist customers in preparing shipping documents, managing addresses, booking a pick up and tracking shipments. Each of our eComm tools is designed to save our customers time and create greater efficiencies for them in using our services.
  4. Ask for help: There are many resources available to small exporters. Tapping into the valuable experience of exporters who have been there and done that will ensure you save yourself time and avoid costly mistakes

Les Richardson, managing director, Ricoh Australia

Does a start-up need a full blown MFD (multifunction device)? Surely businesses don’t print much these days?

With the compact MFDs available in today’s market it’s an easy choice for small businesses to choose between having to use and manage multiple devices such as single-function printers, scanners and faxes, and managing just one. An MFD allows you to rationalise a fax, printer and scanner down to just one device. As a result startups can benefit in seeing less wasted time, costs and complexity as well improving their business’s carbon footprint. With the amount of documents and data businesses are now producing, finding ways to manage it all is essential – particularly for start-up businesses that have many tasks and roles to administer already.

Should startups rent or buy their hardware?

There are many benefits for startups renting their hardware; the first of those is that they can easily manage their cashflow and there is no large up front payment required. Many print and document automation suppliers now offer managed print services plans, or MPS as they are otherwise known. MPS offer flexible print management solutions, customised specifically for each business.  With an MPS plan startups can be comfortable knowing they have one agreement, one invoice, one price for black and white prints and one price for colour prints. An additional benefit of MPS is that startups can have the latest technology – MPS plans are flexible so startups can upgrade at any time if their needs change.

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Jen Bishop

Jen Bishop

Jen was the publisher at Loyalty Media and editor of Dynamic Business, Australia's largest circulating small business magazine, from 2008 until 2012. She is now a full-time blogger at The Interiors Addict.

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