Hard times and tough budgeting have been a fact of life for most businesses since the Credit Crunch first came crashing onto the scene a couple of years ago. George Osborne's Emergency Budget, with its 'tough but fair' theme, has raised the bar even higher, bringing a new round of challenges and constraints to the British public and commercial sector.
Now the dust has settled from the Chancellor's speech, commentators have picked the bones out of it and chewed over the winners and losers, reality is beginning to strike home. Well, what did we expect? It was, after all, billed as an 'Emergency Budget', designed to get Britain out of the red and back on the road to financial renewal and recovery.
We all knew it wasn't going to be easy. George Osborne admits he has been tough, but claims that the budget is nevertheless fair. The hike in VAT up to 20% is of course going to be a bitter pill for all of us to swallow. Workers in the public sector face the prospect of two years with higher taxation and no raise in pay - those among them who are lucky enough to hold on to their jobs, that is - as the swingeing cuts are inevitably going to include many job losses.
Perhaps you are an entrepreneur, worried about managing your business with higher costs and lower resources. Maybe you are now struggling to strike a balance between a minuscule budget and a mammoth work load. You may even be wondering how your company is going to survive. Beyond the rarefied atmosphere of Westminster, political manoeuvring and media frenzy, normal life goes on.
For those of us back in the real world of business and IT, who soldier on with reduced staffing levels and budgets trimmed to within an inch of their lives, there are still some sensible measures we can take to reduce costs. Instead of rushing to cut back on staffing levels and capital expenditure, why not deploy a little imagination and lateral thinking?
Have you considered the benefits of signing up to a SaaS system for your company? SaaS, or 'Software as a Service', is a web-based technology founded on the idea of renting IT as and when you need it. For example, you could reduce your business travel costs by introducing some more imaginative ways for your staff to collaborate, communicate and plan. Improved communications networks and advances in web technology mean that it is no longer always necessary to attend meetings in person, or even to slog in to the office every day.
For the typical small to medium sized enterprise SaaS has a lot to offer in terms of convenience, flexibility and security. From a purely financial point of view it can give you some valuable savings, including: No software license to pay for, no minimum contract, reduced travel costs, reduced need for IT department services, lower staff training costs, and lower server maintenance overheads
There are many advantages to the SaaS approach, both technical and financial. For a start, it is quick and easy to set up, easy to use and flexible across a range of business needs. A good SaaS system can save you money by allowing you to work from home, or while travelling, and to collaborate with colleagues far more easily and efficiently than ever before.
How does it work? Simple: all your folders, documents and project plans are stored safely and securely in the controlled environment of the SaaS provider's server park. To access them from anywhere in the world, just sign in to your SaaS account, and all your data is made available for you to read and update via the Internet. This presents you and your staff with many opportunities to work in a more modern, effective and productive way.
Harness the power of the web to your advantage and you may find that it can help you, your employees and your business to weather the storm and even to expand and prosper in this harsh financial climate. As for the budget, it wasn't all bad news. As expected, the banks came in for some harsh criticism, with an acknowledgement that their failures have imposed a huge cost on the rest of society, and the introduction of a bank levy from January 2011. I reckon there will be many bankers today heaving a huge sigh of relief that they weren't hit even harder.
For the business community, there is plenty of good news, with the emphasis on encouraging new enterprise and start-up companies by granting tax breaks and making it cheaper to employ new staff. There will be a year-on-year reduction in corporation tax, with the small companies' tax rate also lowered. To make sure the economic recovery is properly financed there is the promise of a new proposal which will make credit more readily available to businesses.
by: Charlotte Mooney
About the Author:
Charlotte Mooney is an IT professional with many years experience, currently working for International IT Software Consultancy Proswift, specialising in the Webforum online Document Management and online Project Planning Service. If this story strikes a chord with you, click one of the links above and check out what Webforum could do for you and your business.