Ask The Entreprenette

20 Money Saving Tips For Small Business Owners

Dear Sarah,
I have been in business for a couple years and am working on lowering some of our overhead right now. I wanted to know if you had some tips on ways to save on “everyday necessities” like office supplies, payroll, phone bills, and anything else we should be aware of.
Appreciate any suggestions – you are always full of great ideas!
Danielle Carr   Teddy’s Tiny Tutu’s
Hi Danielle,
I asked my friend David if I could borrow this great post he wrote on how to save for start-ups!  He covered all the bases ( and basics) so no need to reinvent the wheel.   All businesses, small or large, exist to earn profits. That’s the basic truth of any entrepreneurial venture. To earn profits, as a business person, you can do one of two things: either increase your business revenue, or cut back on costs. Here are 20 great money saving tips that you can try out to help show a quick positive trend in your profit margins.
Save on Office Equipment Costs
1.   Plan Your Office Equipment Budget In Advance
Plan out the amount you’ll be investing in your office equipment.
2.   Buy Used Or Reconditioned Items
Until you’re able to break even in your business, consider buying used or reconditioned items for your office and consider rental options for computers and expensive equipment.
3.   Shop For Items In Alternative Venues
There are great deals at bankruptcy and/or government auctions. Furniture rental stores also sell furniture that was previously rented out at big discounts. Try garage sales, flea markets or craigs list for a more artsy look.
4.   Comparison Shop
Don’t buy anything on impulse; remember to compare prices for the same goods in different places. Use the internet to research on prices and potential cost saving options. Check out name-your-price sites, auctions and price bidding sites, and sites that allow you to compare prices between different brands as well.
5.   Negotiate Prices
Never pay the asked for price immediately. Once you decide exactly where you’re going to buy a product, start negotiating. Sometimes just asking for a discount might open the door to potential discounts or relaxed payment arrangements.
6.   Lease Equipments
You can protect your cash better by leasing equipment than by buying an item outright. For example, copiers are better leased than purchased, owing to their maintenance requirements.
Save on Communication Costs
7.   Use The Telephone Prudently
Residential lines work out to be cheaper than business lines; something to consider if you’re opening a home office. Always shop around for the best phone service prices in your area before settling. Remember each additional service means an extra cost.
8.   Use Email
Use Email instead of conventional mail as much as possible. Use faxes to deliver signed documents or even scan and email.
9.   Plan Your Mailing Schedule
If you need to deliver products to your customers, take advantage of bulk transactions. Deliver once or twice a week only; saving costs on delivery expenses.
10.Set Up Your FedEx or UPS Account
Set up your own business FedEx/UPS Ground account. This way, your shipments will be picked up at your office rather than you delivering them to the local FedEx/UPS store. You can create labels and schedule shipments online to streamline the process.
11.Use Internet Conferencing Facilities
Take advantage of internet-based conferencing technologies, such as Zoho Meeting, and Microsoft Office Live Meeting for low cost options to connect with clients. Many of these technologies are free of cost as well and can lead to tremendous productivity.
Save Energy And Supplies Consumption Costs
12.Keep An Eye On Office Supply Usage
Do a quarterly evaluation of supplies and order only if needed. Maintaining an accounting system for office supplies so that nothing is misused can cut down on costs.  Buying supplies like ink on-line can often save you a bundle.
13.Monitor Energy Consumption
Use automatic light switches and auto-setback thermostats to save energy costs. Shut your computers down when not in use, especially during weekends. If you have many rooms in your office, use heat-sensing lights to prevent energy waste.
14.Use Laptop Computers
Use laptop computers for you and your employees as much as possible in your office, as they consume 90% less energy than standard desktops.
Save On Payroll Costs
15.Barter For Services
Many small businesses barter for services, a practice that can save you a lot of money. If your business uses the internet, you can barter banners for links and ads. You can also take part in organized barter exchange organizations on the Internet.
16.Hire People With Multiple Skill Sets
Hire people who can cover several “job” positions that are not full time.
17.Use Free Services
Explore the skill pool you have at your disposal. Do you have a friend who’s good at graphic designing or is a good writer? Get him or her to do your logo, marketing brochures, product designs and marketing collateral for free and make them an awesome meal or take them to a movie!
18.Hire College Students
Wherever possible, hire college students looking for internship opportunities for your seasonal work. College interns receive college credit while contributing to your business and you can cut back on payroll costs while increasing productivity.
General Tips
19.Get Organic Free PR
Whether you create software products or hard goods, you can always hand out freebies to charity auctions, or send free samples to local teachers, civic organizations or reporters. They’ll spread the word for you if they like it.
20.Use Online Payment Services
Avoid statement fees, merchant account charges and monthly fees on your credit card by using an online service like PayPal.
David works for a conversion optimization Company and helps small businesses in landing page optimization and in increasing the overall conversion rate of their marketing campaigns.
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    Written by Sarah Shaw

    There are 4 comments

  • amy guinn says:

    What are your thoughts on Merchant Services, any way to be able to take credit and debit cards without the usual fees charged by banks?

  • Zsa Zsa says:

    Great tips, Sarah. I love how you included energy saving tips here. Many people do not realize how much they can save in the long run by being energy-conscious!

  • Alison says:

    As a professional graphic designer and an Etsy seller, I can’t say I condone the following statement:

    “Do you have a friend who’s good at graphic designing or is a good writer? Get him or her to do your logo, marketing brochures, product designs and marketing collateral for free and make them an awesome meal or take them to a movie!”

    Now I know why people are always trying to undervalue my services! I charge upwards of $45 an hour and I don’t take kindly to friends (or anyone) expecting me to work for them for free. You do a great disservice when making statements such as this as it perpetuates the annoying belief that graphic design is something anyone can do and is not worth paying for.

  • michele says:

    Cutting back when possible on electric, phone, etc. but try not to on hiring good people to help with the business.

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