MT Expert's Ten Top Tips: Big benefits with short contracts

Worried about big capital investments in the current climate? Start thinking shorter-term...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Not surprisingly, many businesses are wary about making long-term commitments in these fraught economic times. Committing to a five-year or even one-year deal might seem a scary prospect when finances are strained and the future looks uncertain. The good news is that suppliers are starting to wake up to the fact that this shouldn’t stop companies having access to the best services and technology available. Here are ten potential short-term deals you might want to consider (and some possible providers), which won’t involve you being tied to a lengthy agreement…

1. People
Hiring temporary staff may be a necessary option for those unsure of the future employment requirements of their business. Alongside the traditional recruitment agencies, web services like People4Business offer access to a large pool of skilled professionals across industries, who can be hired for any specified time period.

2. Office space
With long-term lease commitments proving a drain on funds, and team sizes fluctuating, finding short-term office space can be a handy way to eliminate the headaches, responsibilities and unnecessary costs often associated with trying to lease conventional space. Useful resources such as Free Office Finder, which offers flexible office rental, with leases ranging from 1 month to 5 years, can be found online. You might pay a bit of a premium, but it could be worth it for the flexibility.

3. Car hire
If you’re finding employees only make sporadic use of their company cars and the cost of maintaining a fleet is becoming a drain on resources, consider hiring. Cars or vans can be reserved online and rented from convenient city locations from places like Streetcar for as little as 30 minutes or as long as 6 months. Unless you're a heavy car user, the cost can be dramatically less than owning a car and with lots of the hassle of car ownership removed.

4. Power
It’s now possible to take a pay-as-you-go approach to powering your office. A lengthy summer closure or a decreased use of an office premises could make this a fruitful decision. British Gas is among those offering a pay-as-you-go meter service, which can help those on a tight budget keep track of spending.

5. SIM-only mobile deals
SIM-only plans for business (where new SIMs can be inserted into an employee’s existing handset) make it simple for small businesses to trial and introduce flexible working into their organisations.  With deals like T-Mobile’s new SIM-only plan, SMEs can specify the length of time for which they want to use the SIM (ranging from a month to a year), giving them access to voice calls, text, email and internet. They can also terminate the contract at short notice. SIM-only plans also allow you to get greater longevity out of existing technology, because you don’t need to shell out for new handsets.

6. Web conferencing
Businesses can also use web conferencing on a pay-as-you-go basis, to help them cut down on travel to meetings. This type of service allows staff to communicate as if they are face-to-face with colleagues, partners or customers anywhere in the world, without leaving their desks. And with online providers like WebEx, there's no software to install and no hardware to purchase, reducing time spent on maintenance and implementation.

7. Office Furniture
Hiring office furniture can avoid large capital expenditures, as well as giving increased flexibility. It also gives you the option to change furniture easily as a business grows and develops – when it’s time to upgrade your funky beanbags to a sensible sofa, for example. Hiring furniture can also bring tax advantages, because the monthly payments are tax-deductible (as a business operating expense).

8. Art
If an important client is coming in for a meeting, you may be keen to impress. The appearance of your office can be transformed with some framed artwork in reception and board rooms. Companies such as Art Rental offer pictures from 30p a day.

9. Cash
If you’re confident of your future business growth – and can convince people of it – you can fulfil those short-term financial needs that spring up during the course of business with a short-term business loan, which companies pay back as soon as the funds are available. Ask your bank nicely, or investigate via Business Link.

10. Office Electrical Equipment
Office electrical equipment, including photocopiers, telephone systems, computers and digital projectors can all be hired for as little as one day or as much as one year. Companies such as the UK OER Group will include delivery and maintenance service in their deals.

Any other bright ideas for short-term deals? Let us know below...

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