Acclimatising to Global Growth: 3 Inspirational Business Models that Start in the Black

December 13, 2014

10:00 pm

With business investment in the UK falling unexpectedly in the third quarter due to what Howard Archer from IHS Global Insight called “caution in the face of increased global growth concerns”, preserving funds is clearly becoming a chief concern for British enterprises.

Thanks to the Christmas retail season, UK business has just received a much needed boost. Indeed, Friday the 28th of November saw an all-time-high level of sales for some of the UK’s retailing behemoths embracing Black Friday for the first time: the department store John Lewis reported that the extent of their £179 million-in-one-day success could be measured by the fact that they sold a tablet computer every second.

Not all companies can rely on seasonal sales for boosting profits though, especially not small businesses. Even ASOS, who performed extremely well in Black Friday sales, is facing an overall 5% decline in shares.

With gloomy figures spelling a grim outlook for global growth, saving money and limiting overheads is going to be key for all businesses. Here are three who have mastered it while providing cost-effective services for clients.

Your Parking Space: Renting out unused parking spaces

Treading the terrain of the current buzzword “shared economy”, Your Parking Space is one of the cheapest dedicated parking companies in the UK.

The flexible parking website is a platform that unites people looking for parking spaces with those who have aren’t using their own. This yields better options for frustrated drivers looking for cheap parking, and puts easy money in the pocket of those who weren’t even using the space, and of course, Your Parking Space.

More than just a smart business idea, Your Parking Space has the wisdom of industry experts behind it too. Company founder and managing director Harrison Woods first made a name for himself at the age of 22 when he won the highly-coveted favour of venture capitalists on the entrepreneurial UK reality television programme Dragons’ Den.

For £15, users get a 12-month online listing that enables them to negotiate rental agreements with other users for the use of their car parking space. Recent statistics from the British automotive services company, RAC Limited, show that the business venture has serious potential as nearly half of the UK’s garages currently aren’t used for cars.

BMW are one of the most recent notable adopters of the blossoming sharing economy which is expected to contribute £9 billion a year for the UK by 2025. They will be getting with the program by introducing a car sharing service in London that charges users by the minute.

Oaksure Property Protection: Live-in security for empty properties

Oaksure Property Protection are specialists in vacant property security (VPS). But unlike most VPS companies, rather than charging up to £8,000 a month for the services of their temporary patrolling guards, Oaksure allocate their trained security industry authority (SIA) guards to occupy properties for a management fee of £200 a month.

This results in: comprehensive and cost-effective security for businesses; cheap (and often palatial) accommodation for the property guardians; and ultimately, a lot of business for Oaksure.

The benefits of having a vacant property occupied rather than simply guarded are vast. Unlike with static security guards who eventually leave the site when they go off-duty, live-in guards establish a 24 hour presence which prevents and deters unwanted activity such as metal theft, squatting and vandalism.

They also render the troublesome scenario of invading squatters easier to deal with: when a vacant property is officially occupied, as it is with Oaksure, squatting becomes punishable by criminal law.

Still Due: Publically hosting overdue invoices

Of all the potential worries for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), you’d expect that receiving financial recompense for services rendered wouldn’t feature too prominently. Unfortunately, in the UK alone, SMEs are currently facing up to £40 billion in unpaid invoices.

The usual route for debt collection commonly results in the hiring of a third party to deal with the problem. After all, if time is money, SMEs can’t afford to waste it chasing payment issues.

Before official, credibility-damaging documents can be issued through the lengthy escalation protocol, debt collection companies only have a limited number of options to work with. In cases that involve companies who are fully aware of the legal requirements of debt collection and aim to ride it out as long as possible, the process can be complex and expensive.

Enter Still Due. Working on the premise that companies are only likely to pay overdue invoices when their business at risk, Still Due devised an effective business plan: for a small fee, any business can upload their overdue invoices to the Still Due database; at this point, the business owing money is notified that they have 7 days to settle or dispute the invoice before their online debt profile goes live to the world.

No empty threats, no follow-up letters or calls. Businesses that fall behind with payments risk potential clients arriving at their debt profile before their website and swiftly dismissing them.

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Simon Davies is a London based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues and solutions.

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