As a small business owner, you’ll be only too aware that running a business is expensive – the day-to-day costs, the odd unexpected cost that crops up; it all mounts up. And that’s before you look at the costs involved with trying to grow your business.
One way to decrease costs is by looking at your day-to-day functions and asking if you could make small changes that would give you incremental savings. After all, every penny counts. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Being more environmentally friendly doesn’t have to mean wholesale changes. Even the little things can increase your eco-credentials while saving money. With US small businesses spending more than $60 billion a year on energy, simple changes can lead to considerable reductions. And by looking again at reducing the amount of waste produced, your bottom line gets a boost along with your carbon footprint.
Things to try:
- Turn off your computer when you leave. It costs around $71 a year to have one computer on for 24 hours - even leaving the monitor on in idle soon adds up. You can more than halve this by choosing ‘shut down’ at 5pm.
- Paper doesn’t grow on trees. Well, technically it does, but with over half of the 6,000 sheets printed each year going to waste, it makes sound sense to have a clear printing policy in place. Encouraging staff to read documents on screen or online, or changing your printer and photocopier default settings to double-sided are also handy ways to cut costs.
- Take a look at the financing options available to help fund energy efficient equipment and facilities. Search for ‘Financing Energy Efficiency Projects’ on www.business.gov.
- On a smaller scale, why not introduce a ‘switch it off’ campaign at work with posters or stickers placed in key areas, such as the printer, photocopier or even by the stock room light switch. For free, downloadable posters, visit the Carbon Trust’s website.
In our personal lives we are always told to shop around to get the best deal on insurance and utilities, and the same is true for businesses.
Things to try:
- Make a note on your calendar to show when existing contracts are due to end. Add a reminder at least a month before the expiry date so you’ll have time to search the market.
- Make a note of how long your notice period is - it’s usually between 28 and 120 days. If you miss it, your contract will automatically roll-over.
Whether it’s stationary, furniture, marketing tools or software, there’s always something that needs to be bought or replaced. But that doesn’t mean it has to cost a fortune...
Things to try:
- If you look in the right places, you’ll find an incredible amount of free software online. Try Zoho if you’re looking for a customer relationship management system, or Turbocash as a free accountancy tool.
- If you order sample packs of business cards you can often pick them up for free. Try VistaPrint.com for 100 free business cards with only a small shipping and handling charge associated.
- Repeat business is always valuable, so in return for this, why not ask if you’re eligible for a discount if you pay cash, pay early or buy in bulk. You might be surprised at just how many companies are receptive to this.
- Sadly, more businesses fail than succeed. The silver lining from this for you is the opportunity to buy second-hand office furniture and equipment at a fraction of the original cost. Check eBay and Craigslist regularly.
- Every business needs toilet roll and paper, but they can be expensive. See if you can join a small business consortium and potentially save a lot of money by bulk-buying together with your fellow business owners
Cash flow savings
If receiving late payments is a familiar situation that’s affecting your cashflow and causing you to incur fines, there are some tools out there that can help you.
Things to try:
- Two invoicing tools that could help make your incoming payments clear are Invoice Machine and Hiveage. If you’re looking for more information on invoicing tools take a look at Mashable’s excellent blog post, but check the prices before you try as the blog post was written last year.
- Take a long hard look at which of your customers are regular late-payers and ask yourself whether it’s worth the time and effort to keep them. Do they actually help with your profit given the man hours you spend chasing their payment?
- This sounds like an obvious one, but setting up standing orders for regular bills can be a way of avoiding a late payment fee.
- Be sure to double check all invoices – mistakes happen and you don’t want to be overcharged.
5 quick ways to save money in less than 5 minutes
- When the last person leaves the office, turn off the lights
- Download your bank’s business account cell phone app (most banks have them now). It’ll mean you can check your account on the go and could help you see any approaching overdraft fees.
- Have a jar on the photocopier and ask staff to put in 5 cents if they copy non-work items.
- Use energy efficient light bulbs – Non-fluorescent bulbs waste as much as $15 per kilowatt.
- Email invoices instead of posting them – this will also save you time!
Note: we don’t necessarily endorse all of the companies listed in this blog post; we just thought you’d find the links useful. It goes without saying that plenty of other businesses offer similar services, so always do your homework to make sure you get the right service for you and your company.