When you’re running a small business (or just about to start one), you know that in order to stay competitive you need to cut costs.
But with so many areas of your business that needs a good amount of funding, what’s the best way to save money while at the same time providing quality goods and services?
That’s a question that has plagued many small business owners for centuries and millennia even. However, in this day and age there are some pretty effective ways to do just that.
You can save money and still continue to provide fantastic products and services that your customers will love.
Let’s look at the 9 best ways to save money for your small business.
Use free marketing
One of the surest ways to get customers to your door is to use advertising in the right places. However, that can get quite expensive and is not the only way to do it.
In fact, many small business owners have switched over to using inbound marketing exclusively. Inbound marketing is where you provide valuable content your customers need for free.
This is normally done on a blog or a social media page. The idea is that, instead of pushing your advertising messages out to others, you are actually drawing those visitors into your business.
You build up a relationship with them through consistent quality content, get their emails, and then convert them into buyers.
Outsource as much as you can
There’s no reason to be particularly strict on having everything done in-house. Employee costs, including salary, office space, and necessary insurance, can really cut into your small business budget.
But with the growth of the gig economy, you can minimize those costs by outsourcing certain tasks. Keep your full-time staff to a minimum and start using freelancers to cover the other tasks.
Usually, you can negotiate lower rates for your outsourced work and use the variety of experience available to boost your business.
Barter and trade
When your funds are getting low (as they unfortunately will from time-to-time), it shouldn’t mean that you can’t get what you need.
That just means that you can’t use cash to get what you need. But you have other valuable things to offer: your goods, services, or expertise.
Instead of paying for what you need with cash, you can trade your services. For example, if you have a web design agency, you can trade your services with an SEO company. You provide your services and you get their services in return.
You don’t have to accept wholesale the prices that your suppliers or vendors are offering you. It may be the case that in the first few months you should. But when you’ve built up a relationship, it’s a good idea to go ahead and negotiate better terms.
Suppliers need to stay in business too, and they face the same problems your business is facing. They may be willing to give you better rates in exchange for longer commitments, or simply because you asked.
But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
Use the cloud
There’s no need for you to use software and services that require huge upfront payments or need you to use your own computers or servers.
Anything that you will need in your business—anything at all—will be available from a SaaS (software as a service) company.
The cloud has enabled small businesses to get their important applications off their old computers and allows them to access those applications quickly, easily and efficiently.
Even better, it’s a pay-as-you-go system, meaning you can minimize costs dramatically and use that saved money to meet your financial obligations or invest in your company.
You should definitely try and keep your core staff (and outsource the other tasks). What you need to do is to make sure you’re cutting any unnecessary expenses.
This may come in the form of free lunches or breakfasts that you’re providing to your customers. Instead of getting everyone coffee from Starbucks three times a day, you can invest money into a (basic) coffee machine.
You can also cut out the free lunches and instead bring everyone pastries once a week—for example on Fridays. That way, even though it is less luxurious than the daily bagels and Starbucks, it is nonetheless much friendlier to your pocket.
Cut out the office (if possible)
Many business owners are so used to the traditional method of doing this that they tend to follow the same formula. First, get the office, then get the IKEA furniture, install phones, pinball or foosball machine, and get the nice computers.
However, this is the golden age of the Internet, and you may not need all that stuff. Depending on your business type, you may be able to do everything online.
If you have a web design agency, marketing, SEO, or anything which is dependent on the internet, you may consider closing down your expensive offices. It is necessary for you to meet up regularly with your team to touch base.
It’s also possible to use a coworking space to cut down on your overhead. You can rent as much or as little space without putting too much down. You can pay-as-you-go and if you’d like to increase or decrease your space, you can do so much more quickly than with traditional offices.
Minimize your meeting times
One of the most time-consuming aspects of normal work is having to participate in (oftentimes) overlong or unnecessary meetings.
What you may not realize, however, is that those meetings are also expensive in terms of salary costs and billable hours (what is not being done while you’re meeting). If they’re spending time in a meeting, you’re not spending time making money.
Keep your meetings lean by limiting who attends the meeting, what is being discussed in the meeting and making a lean agenda.
Get some interns
Lastly, you should look at getting the results from your employees without actually having those employees. Specifically, you should look to getting some interns from local universities that can help you with what they probably have knowledge about: social media.
Your marketing plan should definitely include social media. However, that can be very time-consuming. Because it doesn’t take a lot of training (and because the younger generation is probably more advanced than you ever will be), it makes sense to give them some hands-on marketing training in exchange for free work.
They can also help with basic design, editing and other tasks that don’t require a lot of experience or complexity.
Save your small business money, starting today
To save money for your small business, you don’t need to have some large, time-consuming financial audit. What you need to do is incorporate the money-saving mentality in all aspects, especially the small, incremental ones.
These 9 tips will help you to get starting on cutting down your expenses and saving your business money so that you can be even more competitive and successful.