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Is having a self-sufficient business an attractive thought right now?

Diane Hall

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A team of smart qualified skilled young engineers discussing about the project of alternative energy with miniatures of windmill turbines at the table.

There’s more than one meaning for self-sufficiency when it comes to business. Some may interpret the term as a company that can run quite happily without needing the founder/owner there on a day-to-day basis. However, in this article, I’m talking about self-sufficiency from the state and other bodies you may currently rely on to operate, i.e. being in full control of your enterprise.


What with all the upheaval in the energy sector and the escalating cost of gas, electricity and the fuel for your vehicles, the thought of self-sufficiency is an attractive one. No relying on the grid for power; no longer being held to ransom over escalating prices; knowing that you will always have a supply whatever happens.


A lot of farms have their own systems in place, such as wind turbines and solar technology, making biofuels with a processor, and growing their own food…but then, they have the land and skills to do such things. For the average business, however, this isn’t as easy.


That said, it’s definitely worth looking into what you can do, and what systems you could install. Some companies offer payment plans/finance on the initial outlay for green energy equipment, and the savings you’ll see will pay back this cost within a few years.


Back in the 1970s, there was such a shortage of electricity, many companies had to compound their operating hours into three days each week to conserve electricity and to ensure there was enough to go round; whilst we wouldn’t imagine this could happen again in 2022, this could be out of our control. Though the UK doesn’t import much of its energy from other countries, the companies harvesting the energy from our land and shores are not governed by us. We can already see the impact the Russian-Ukraine conflict is having on energy prices and the (what I see as immoral) profits the energy companies are making; if you’re not self-sufficient, you’re at their mercy.


The following suggestions all come at a cost, but the long-term returns and freedoms associated with them could be well worth the initial outlay.

Green energy with solar collectors on the roof of an agricultural building

Green energy with solar collectors on the roof of an agricultural building

Look at securing your premises


If you’re a business that rents its premises, you’re at the mercy of your landlord and what they may decide to do with the property at any given time. A lease and/or contract gives you some protection, but maybe there’s a good business case for you to purchase the building (or another building) yourself. This will create an asset for your business and help cement its longevity.


If this could be the case for you, think hard about the space you actually need; you may be renting an area that’s a little larger than what’s required because the location was important when you were establishing yourself. Now that you’ve built a reputation and a solid customer base, maybe you could look to buy premises in a cheaper area.


Think about green energy


Of course, green energy solutions help the environment. They also help you from being reliant on the National Grid and energy suppliers. Look at solar panels if this is an option for you, or a wind turbine. Weigh up the cost and supply of alternative fuels, such as red diesel/LPG, or even the equipment needed to make your own. The storage of unused energy has come on in recent years; it’s entirely possible for a business to go ‘off grid’.


Insulation


The better insulated your premises, the less energy you will need to heat it. There are grants available that can help you insulate your offices or workspace, which will offset some of your utility costs.


Look at conserving water


There are tricks you can apply to conserve the amount of water you use in your business. Of course, a business’s needs in this regard can fluctuate, depending on what it does; however, consider gadgets that reduce the water used in each toilet flush, or a water butt that could be useful for ground works and cleaning outdoors. Every little helps!


Consider your fuel bill


Does every meeting have to be in person; could some be delivered via Zoom? Could your delivery process be streamlined, i.e. can the route be better planned to reduce milage? Can you offer a discount for multiple orders, so that they can be compounded into one delivery? Can local/nearby deliveries be fulfilled by bike?


Turn things off properly


Leaving computers on standby overnight can still cost you approximately £35 per desk, per year, which can soon add up if you have a lot of them. Only leave your security lights on when you leave and ensure everything else is turned off at the end of the day.


Let there be light


Even a small change like switching your lightbulbs to LED will reduce your utility costs. Consider investing in a few battery-powered lights or even a generator; both would come in very useful if the country is plunged into darkness at some point in the future.


Alternative currencies


What would it take for the pound to collapse? There are a few crypto-currencies around and it’s worth the conversation with an expert to see if this is something you should incorporate within your business, to ensure its continuity if things went pear-shaped with the country’s currency. The phrase ‘don’t keep all your eggs in one basket’ comes to mind.


If this article sounds apocalyptic, it’s not meant to. It’s very empowering to know you could continue trading if the worst happened; we take so much for granted in this country. A self-sufficient business that has full control of its operations is extremely powerful.

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