For some small business owners it is important that they try to keep expenses down. Large overhead and lack of cash flow is the single biggest reason for business failure. In times like this it is essential we do all way can to save money. Here are 3 easy ways to save money in your business:
Outsource what you can
This has got to be this biggest money saving tip I ever received. This can include everything from sending work overseas to outsourcing local jobs and eliminating or reducing payroll. There are many jobs that can be outsourced locally that several small business owners bring in house. One example of this is printing. It may appear that you save money on printing by doing it in house but you better look close. Printing is much more than the cost of ink and paper. How many copies can your printer produce before it needs some routine maintenance or worse, replaced? Printing companies and office supply stores have big machines and spit out copies (even color) at extremely low prices. Sometimes they can add a margin and still do it cheaper than you or I could.
Another example is sending select jobs overseas. Our website developer was in the Philippines and we communicated with email and Skype. He was great; he did all the design work and got it up and running. Then we had a short call where he showed us how to use and update the site. He was a little more expensive than some of the people I interviewed but was still less than $8.00 per hour. I used another assistant in the Philippines that did some writing for me as well as some research and email marketing. The risk here is that if you pay by the hour you have to keep a close eye on them as the hours can start to add up before you get the results you want.
Save money on utilities
Internet and phones can really start to add up. I have found ways to save money on these a couple of ways. The first is simply to negotiate with the sales rep. Did you know you can do that? Never pay the price they have, if you push hard enough you can get some really great deals. If you get a great deal over the phone tell the rep that you need to discuss it with your partner and call back. Use this opportunity to call another provider and tell them what you were offered. Maybe they can beat it.
Internet phone is another option. We used it for years paying $15 per month for two lines. We had to move away from it because the box continued to go out and needed to be reset putting us without phones. Also if you lose power or the internet you also lose phones. We have used Vonage and Phone Power but there are several providers out there. I recommend doing a Google search for internet phone providers and see what you come up with and please read the reviews as there is a lot of variance in quality.
Save on office space
I know many of you have no office so you don't need to worry about this. Our office is really cheap for what we get so it is a no brainer for us. Office space makes you appear more professional and is a great place to meet with clients. It is also good to get out of the house in an effort to keep your personal and work lives separate, not to mention being able to have gifts for your wife delivered to the office. J If an office makes sense for you, now might be the time to sign a long term lease. The general feel is that office vacancies will start to go down which would mean rates will go up and landlords will be less likely to want to sign long term leases. It is also a great time to negotiate deals on the lease space. Take your time, look at a lot of office space and drive a hard bargain. If you already have a signed lease it is always worth a phone call to the landlord to see if you can get a little better deal for extending the lease now.
I don't mean to downgrade a home office. In fact it is quite the opposite. I had a home office for years and it worked very well for me. I was able to save on office lease payments and internet. Not to mention the money I saved on gas. (Although maybe I spent more money on Starbucks since that is where I always went to meet clients.) The point is you can save a lot of money by bringing your office into your home and you will actually get some great tax breaks for doing it. I am sure this goes without saying but if you do office at home it is essential that you have a separate room with a door.