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When the energy price increases came into force on April Fools Day, many of us hoped it might be a practical joke.

Unfortunately, the drastic increase in our monthly utility bills were serious and the reality of having to adjust to the new economic climate has quickly become a hot topic of discussion.

Whether it be energy, food, fuel or essential items, the cost of living has undoubtedly risen and salaries have not kept pace, so many of us are having to make big changes to our spending habits, work and lifestyle.

Some businesses have had to raise prices to ensure they’re not making a loss, whereas others are having to look at their own cost-cutting exercises.

Many small businesses and self-employed professionals will be uneasy about having their hand forced to charge more for their products or services, especially when we’re all still feeling the impact of the pandemic.

Photographer Jon Plimmer already struggles with the annual price increase he implements every New Year:

“For someone with major imposter syndrome, it’s a hugely uncomfortable undertaking. I increased my prices in January and I’m only now approaching the point where I’m at ease saying what the new price is.

“I’m finding that my monthly wage isn’t going as far as it used to and I’m getting to the end of the month with an empty personal bank account – I afford a pay increase by raising prices in the business, but I don’t really know how much more is needed and what the consequences of such a price change would be on the business.”

jon plimmer

In the reality of running a physical hub for small business support and being forced to raise our prices, it can feel like we’re giving with one hand and taking with the other. It means we have to do as much as we can to help and support in other ways ensuring that our members know we’re really there for them. 

The mental health impact of wondering where the next client is going to come from is enough to send some self-employed people in search of the security of a full-time job, so support and confidence-building will be really important to make sure no entrepreneurs become too afraid to make the leap and continue going for their dreams.

43% of our members said that confidence was the most important impact that the support we give has on whether or not they start a business. If you’re throwing yourself into the unknown, grabbing hold of any excuse to hold back is pretty tempting, and the cost of living crisis is likely to serve as a huge deterrent to budding business owners.

Greener living could be a way to combat the increases; working from business hubs and coworking spaces to keep bills down at home, reduce commuting times and help with making sales is a great option for entrepreneurs.

Janine Jones is a self-employed costume designer and maker and cites her anti-waste policy as a great money saver:

“I mostly use fabric that are leftovers from previous projects and vintage fabric and clothes donated to me, so that has always helped me lower the cost. I just need to avoid buying so many shiny trims!

“I hate the thought of lovely clothing and fabric being discarded – no matter how small the pieces are – so it’s my way of creating less waste. It also makes my work unique as they can’t be recreated once the fabric is used up.

“The money saved is a bonus, and an even bigger one now that the cost of living has increased so much. I’m also investigating additional income sources to pay those rising bills through affiliate links and digital products, so there’s an opportunity to earn even when I haven’t made or sold something.”

janine jones

One positive outcome might be that putting prices up will force people into making decisions that are kinder to the planet. Could the financial benefits of making greener choices like reducing waste, avoiding fast fashion and saving energy be a silver lining in the situation we find ourselves in?

Perhaps now that we need to really consider what and where we spend our money, we may start to make more considered choices and see the true value in the products or services we pay for. In turn, small businesses will see value in the clients and customers that stick with them during tough times and rising prices

As we all deal with our individual challenges, hopefully, it will be this sense of appreciation and mutual understanding that will allow us to come through it together.

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