Business monthly: news in brief

Season of the switch

The price comparison and switching site has launched a service to help Britain's estimated 4.7 million small businesses obtain a better deal on energy. The move is in response to growing numbers of calls from SMEs keen to cut costs because of the recession. It is claimed the service – – could help SMEs save up to 50 per cent on energy bills.

Businesses can go online or call 0800 051 5343 to get information and a quotation on the best deal for their needs. Just as with households, estimates are based on the company's energy consumption and are given after comparing the latest tariffs provided by a range of energy suppliers and selecting the most competitive rates.

The average SME electricity bill is just over £2,500 per year, while the average gas bill is just over £3,200. Although many owners run their business from home, about 3 million SMEs have stand-alone business premises and may be locked into a contract with a supplier. These contracts come up for regular renewal, but only a third of SMEs check the market before signing their next contract. As a result, they often end up paying too much for their energy.

Crisis? What crisis?

The economic crisis will claim many failures, but there will also be plenty of winners, according to a book from PA Consulting Group. In Surviving and Thriving in the Economic Crisis, Mark Thomas says the key steps to being a winner are maximising liquidity; diverting capital aggressively from poor businesses; and being bold enough to act quickly to pick up the bargains resulting from the demise of your competitors. The losers will be those who fail to secure their liquidity, focus on traditional cost cutting and ignore the bigger picture, or those who miss out on the opportunities.

In most sectors, say PA, there are large numbers of companies whose liquidity is in doubt. Many of these companies won't survive. But for companies whose finances are robust the recession offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities: weakened competitors will see their share prices fall to levels which make them an attractive acquisition; they may sell their crown jewels to raise cash or they may simply disappear, reducing the over-capacity which exists in so many sectors. High-quality assets will become available at bargain basement prices. Well-positioned companies can achieve a decade's worth of progress in two years.

Green shoots of recovery

Sixty-eight per cent of small businesses believe it is more important than ever for organisations to act sustainably in the current climate, with 56 per cent noting that those organisations that adopt sustainable practices are more likely to succeed, according to BT Business's New Workplace study. Moreover, just under half of the small businesses questioned recognised the associated cost benefits with going green.

Bill Murphy, managing director of BT Business, said: "Sustainability is no longer a luxury for any business, regardless of its size. Improving your processes and tackling your carbon footprint isn't just good for the planet – it also makes business sense." Despite these findings, confusion still surrounds small businesses and sustainability.

In recognition of this challenge, BT Business has launched its own self-assessment tool specifically aimed at small businesses in 2008. BT BEST (Business Environmental Self-assessment Tool) is an online tool that advises small businesses on ways in which they can reduce their energy consumption.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas