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Celebrating Small Businesses in 2017

As December approaches and 2017 draws to a close, we’ve decided to reflect on what has been a very busy year! We’ve taken the opportunity to look back at some of the inspirational SMEs we’ve worked with this year. Their stories are terrific examples of ways in which businesses can invest in energy efficiency, save money and succeed in the current economic climate. They’ve given us some advice in the hope that other businesses might follow suit:

Neville Gill

Neville Gill – Williamston Barns, a luxury holiday letting business and farmstead in Northumberland

“Take the risk and invest in energy saving materials and measures – it will pay off in the long run.

“We built our business with not only our customers, but also with the environment in mind. It was important for us to be innovative as a new business and energy efficiency was at the forefront of our business plan. Many people think investing in energy saving materials and processes is very expensive and hard work, but the reality is that many measures are easy to adopt and the initial spend definitely pays off.

“We made the decision to install a biomass boiler which generates 140,000kw each year and a 6kw wind turbine generating about 10,000kw a year on site to heat and power the homes, as well as the entire farm. Before investing, I made sure I was fully aware of the payback times for each of these energy efficient technologies. It’s very much a priority for us to be sustainable in everything we do, and this has really worked for us.”

Children on street with karate stances

Lesley Harrison – Origin Sports, a Newcastle based social enterprise providing sports classes for young people

“It important to have a good relationship with your energy provider – they can offer you some really great advice that can help you save money.

“Our building is an old, renovated railway arch with very high ceilings, it’s often drafty and keeping the place warm required a lot more heating than we initially thought. We started off heating the property with convection heaters but were shocked at how costly these were to run.

“We spoke to the ScottishPower small business team to get their advice. They agreed to level out our direct debits over the year which made our monthly costs a lot more manageable, helping us to really get our business off the ground. They also recommended we switch from convection heaters to something more efficient in terms of both cost and energy. Although a significant investment in the first instance, we made the decision to switch to infrared heaters - we knew that the extra expense upfront would ultimately pay off when it came to our energy bills.”

Philip being presented award

Philip Brennan –, winner of the Cheshire Business Awards 2017 Business of the Year Award (up to 10 employees)

“Make sure your staff really understand the needs and wants of your customer - this will help them deliver the absolute highest level of service.

“As a small – medium sized enterprise ourselves, we understand how difficult it is to build a successful business, particularly in the current economic climate. When it comes to things like insurance, banking and energy, choosing a company that can give you what you need, at a reasonable price can be difficult and incredibly time consuming. One thing that we know SMEs don’t have a lot of, is time.

“We source the best deals from a range of suppliers across the UK and allow businesses to compare prices and what they can offer to ensure they find the absolute best deal for them and their business needs.

“Our success as a business is testament to the hard work of our talented team. Each individual recognises the struggle that SMEs face and is committed to offering a solution that can save businesses time and money and help them thrive”.

City Building LLP being presented award

Dr Graham Paterson from City Building LLP, winner of the Glasgow Business Awards 2017 Green Champion Award

“The responsibility to be environmentally friendly lies with everyone – not just senior management. Get staff involved in training and brainstorming ideas to really get their buy in.

“Being environmentally conscious is incredibly important to us and integral to the way we run our business. We recently decided to roll out environmental management training strategy for managers and supervisors at all of our sites - this means we can give staff regular updates on any green policies, encourage environmentally friendly behaviours and work collaboratively to allow us to be innovative and consider new energy saving measures that could be adopted.”

Philip being presented award

Diane Darley, Harpham and Lowthorpe Village Hall

“I thought using online account management would be really difficult, but it’s easier than you might think and has really helped us to stay on top of our energy use.

“As a small, community run business, keeping our energy costs as low as possible is really important. It’s also key that we know how much we are spending on energy each month. We have recently started managing our account online. This means we can enter readings at any time without spending a long time on the phone. It also means estimated bills are a thing of the past, making it easier for us to budget and invest the savings we make back into the village hall”.