Practical money-saving tips for small business.
In today's economic climate, it's more important than ever to save every penny we can in our small businesses. With that in mind, here's some cost-cutting measures you can take to the bank.
So here are some cost-cutting measures you can take right to the bank.
Consider carefully before you buy - Before you buy that new piece of high-tech equipment or company car, think about three things 1) Can you afford it? 2) What it your ROI (return on investment)? and 3) Are there any tax-advantages or deductions?
Comparison shop - This is as important to do for small-ticket items like office supplies as it is for big-ticket items like copy machines. If you order online, you can use the Internet to research prices and it's very simple to pull up side-by-side comparison. And if you decide to buy from a bricks-and-mortar store, you can use your research as negotiation.
Get three bids - This is along the same lines as comparison shopping, and works especially well if you are contracting for services like repairs or office cleaning, or any number of other things. You'd be surprised how widely bids will vary. If you like another higher-bidding company better than a lower-bidding company, if you quote their competitor's lower price, companies will often match the lower bid to get your business.
Barter - One of the best ways to stretch your business budget is to barter, or swap, your product or service for another product or service. You keep your cash, but get the item you need. You can either barter with businesses directly, or hire a barter broker who works on commission (look in the phone book or Internet to locate one). You can also join a barter club or exchange through clearinghouses like National Association of Trade Exchange where you receive "trade dollars" for your goods or services that you can exchange for other goods or services. Check them out at www.nate.org.
Join your local Chamber - Or other trade or business association. Many of them offer discounts on important business expenses like insurance.
Know your tax-deductions - This is especially important if you run a home-based business where you can deduct a percentage of the money you outlay for rent or mortgage interest, utilities, house cleaning, lawn care, home maintenance, and more. Whether you're home-based or not, I'd recommend you get with your tax advisor, or go to www.irs.gov and do some research on what you can legally deduct.
Consider used or reconditioned - You don't have to buy new to get quality office equipment and furnishings. Check out your newspaper classified sections, auctions, and Internet sites like eBay and Craig's List. Be sure to have all merchandise checked out thoroughly before you buy, or to get a money-back guarantee.
Pay your bills online - Save postage costs and time by setting up an online account with your bank, and paying your regular monthly bills from your computer. (Be sure to check the "lag" time and adjust your payment times accordingly.) Depending on the payee and bank, it sometimes takes several days from the time you pay to the time your check makes it to its intended destination. Along the same lines, you can also pay your bills directly to the payee in some instances. Be sure to check out all your options and use them.
Centralize your office supplies - Unfortunately, we often waste or misuse office supplies through lack of diligence. Many times we don't keep good track of what we have and what we need, and end up running out (and paying too much in panic), or we order something we already have. Keep your office supplies in one centralized location, and designate one person who will monitor and dole out the supplies, and reorder when necessary.
Reduce your energy footprint - Going green often means saving some green as well. Turn lights off when the area is not in use. Replace your old standard bulbs with the new compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). The initial cost of the bulb is more, but the bulbs last 10 times as long as standard bulbs, and use 75 percent less energy. The long-term cost savings far outweigh the price of the bulbs.
Negotiate - Did you know that just by asking, you can often get a discount? It's true. Especially if you are paying with cash and in full. Ask ad you may just receive!
Save on insurance - By raising your deductible, you can save a tremendous amount on your monthly premiums. Chances are good that even if you have to pay your deductible, you'll still end up saving over what you would have paid in premiums. Check with your insurance carrier to find out for sure.
Follow these cost-cutting tips and you'll soon see your overhead going down, and your bottom line going up.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Donna Williams is the founder and creator of BusinessBurrito.com - a website dedicated to helping small businesses grow to their maximum potential. She is also a 25-year advertising / marketing executive, creative director, writer, and producer. Together, Donna and her husband currently own and co-own five small businesses. To read more of her articles, or to sign up for her free e-newsletter, visit her website at www.businessburrito.com