Business services are available for every kind of solution, facility, assistance, help or service an SME might need. Many companies are in the business of offering just such a provision (and related products) to other businesses.
You may have already encountered such a provider since they cover every field and in every industry. If you are a recent start-up business, you will probably have spoken to one, such as a bank, accountant, solicitor or telephone service provider, for example.
Some of these key areas are outlined in articles elsewhere on Business Information UK. In this article, we touch upon some of them again, but we also look at others including:
- IT and equipment
- Relocation services
From the moment a new enterprise is conceived, it is likely business owners will need service providers to help them get started and operate the company thereafter.
A number of factors will determine where the business is based.
You need to consider the kind of premises you need; what options are available to meet this requirement and; to understand the ramifications of the costs involved and even meeting planning requirements if you need to build.
Many small firms start out as home-based organisations, especially those where the individual provides the service rather than offering a product and does not require warehousing, manufacturing facilities, or simply more space.
A good idea if you do decide to work from home is to factor in the payment of some kind of rent and if possible at a level similar to business premises available on the commercial market. There is a good reason for this: if, as is hoped, you do one day need to expand and move to larger premises, you don’t want the surprise of having to then increase your charges to absorb your new business rent and rates.
If the firm does need to find business premises, owners will discover the variety on offer is vast and standards – as a rule – are higher than they were in the past.
Renting serviced office space for example, can provide a flexible solution for new businesses, whilst established companies will find such space useful if they need an office – away from HQ – for a one-off project in a specific location, or for simplicity with expansion.
Managed and commercial office space can be rented and is extremely useful if you require a longer-term facility.
IT & equipment
Every business will probably need to utilise IT in some shape or form. For a small business, this may only extend to having a single PC and monitor, but for others, IT can be used to help meet nearly every need or challenge.
Information technology has increased the speed at which we do business immeasurably in the past decade or so and by harnessing the web, e-commerce has transformed the possibilities for companies large and small.
At a more fundamental level, day-to-day operations will almost certainly require some form of IT hardware and software and perhaps business equipment such as photocopiers and fax machines, or equipment specific to your industry or service.
Businesses should have an IT plan or strategy, even if just to focus on what is needed short-term. Longer-term and for larger businesses – and perhaps where IT has been identified to fulfil a specific, operational need – planning will be crucial to the success of the project and to help tackle issues before they become a nasty surprise.
Much of your IT hardware and other equipment can be purchased both new and reconditioned, so shop around.
Good business relocations require thorough planning and effective project management.
Cutting overheads by moving to more cost-effective offices, expansion overseas or at home, are but two reasons why companies need to relocate. By employing the right relocation service, you can make the move seamless and hassle free.
Training can be overlooked, but what it offers to businesses is vital for a host of different reasons.
On one level, it can support employee development and assist companies in becoming more efficient and productive. On quite another level, it can help motivate and improve staff loyalty.
The range of training services available is endless, from IT to general business training and from industry specific training to learning a trade. Open (public) courses are available as well as in-house, at your own premises.
Good trainers and training companies are worth their weight in gold and many such providers maintain long-term and fruitful partnerships with their clients.
Training may not be something you need in the early days, but as you expand, it is certainly something every business should be mindful of, both for your own personal development, or for any future employees you may take on.
If you do require training, a good idea is to attend a one-off course first perhaps, before committing to more.
There is also government funding available to help train you and your staff and a good place to start researching this is at Train to Gain, the national skills service supporting employers in every sector.
Other business services
Three crucial areas of business service, especially in the early days of a company, are finance (banks and building societies, accountants and sources of finance), legal advice (solicitors) and marketing. The relevance of these topics is looked at in more detail in separate articles, but here is a quick recap:
- Finance needs very little stressing because it – and its creation and effective management – sits right at the heart of the success of any firm. You will need to look at sources of finance, whether from your own resources, a bank or a private investor perhaps. Accountants can provide ongoing bookkeeping services – a vital function – whilst a business bank account is crucial.
- Legal advice, particularly from a qualified solicitor, is available to businesses and for virtually all commercial issues, ranging from forming a company or partnership; trademarks and patents; through to debt recovery services and employee disputes, or simply to address legal compliance for your business.
- Marketing services could be extremely useful to businesses, both for new start-ups and long established companies, particularly in the current economic climate. Good marketing planning, and marketing copywriting, through to targeted activity could make the difference to the success of your company and give you a head start over your competitors.