5 Tips For Reducing Business Costs
Many challenges a small business owner or entrepreneur faces fall under the category of time or money constraints. Even the best of ideas struggle to get off the ground in the very beginning due to tight budgets and limited time. So here we’ve gathered the top five easiest and cheapest ways to start reducing your business costs (and more efficiently use your time!), whether you’re a long-standing small business owner or just now heading down the entrepreneurial path.
You don’t have to do something as radical as hiring a virtual personal assistant based out of India, but many services can be outsourced on a small level (a.k.a. “mini-outsourcing”) or done out-of-house at a much more affordable price. com is an online outsourcing marketplace where you can post your project and let “virtual workers” bid on the price for which they’ll complete the task. Everything from web design and online marketing to translation and bookkeeping can be put on the Freelancer.com website and workers from around the globe will vie for the chance to complete your project.
If you’re not looking for a one-time collaboration, then many other tasks can be handled out-of-house regularly such as tax accounting, or phone answering after business hours (a virtual receptionist answers your incoming calls according to your handling instructions and sends you an instant notification).
2. Use Technology to Your Advantage.
You’re probably already familiar with online banking services and direct debit payment options; they’re a great way to avoid late-fees and save yourself the hassle of remembering deadlines. In addition to PayPal and online banking, however, technology can help you save time and money in yet other ways.
There are many free conference call services that allow you to make and organize your conference calls online at no or low cost. Some of the best providers are: ÜberConference.com, com, Speek and Wiggio. You can compare them and chose the one who fits your needs with this helpful presentation.
Furthermore, if you want to cut your business costs without “cutting” the quality of your customer services, you can use a virtual phone service like the one offered by Office24.co.uk, which includes a VoIP (Voice-over Internet Protocol) phone number with the area code of your choice. By simply using a mobile phone and your Office24 VoIP phone number you can drastically reduce your phone bills and also have more flexibility and freedom when making calls (i.e. moving your home office into the garden or the park when the weather is nice).
3. Embrace Open Source.
Open Source software is absolutely free and always will be. OpenOffice is a well-known package including word processor, power point presentations, spreadsheets, etc. comparable to Microsoft Office.
Google Drive is great way to back-up your files for free, access them remotely, or even to collaborate with different people on the same document at the same time. (However, you do need a Google account for this.) Notifications, photo editing software, calendars and other office standards are also offered by Google.
You can replace Microsoft Outlook with Thunderbird Mail, replace a website hosting service and web designer with a free WordPress blog (registering a .fr domain is only £15 per year), replace your expensive CRM / Newsletter software with com’s free service (for up to 2,500 recipients)… the possibilities are almost endless.
4. Think Outside the Cubicle.
Quite a few new ventures have come into existence to cater for the new generation of workers: those who are self-employed, growing out of their home offices, or e-working. Co-working solutions (which are different people from different companies working in the same building space) offer a great way to cut down on office space costs and also increase word of mouth about your business.
If you are happy with your home office but want to make a more professional appearance for clients, there are some companies who offer conference space, meeting rooms, telephone answering services, virtual secretarial services and even business address registration, meaning you can register your business in a fancy, upscale location and even host meetings in the provided facilities, but in reality you spend most of your time working from home, have your company name on the building, and pay only a fraction of full-time rental costs for such a prime location. Again, you’ll have to do some searching to find out if such offers are available in a city near you.
5. Be Creative.
You don’t have to be Picasso to be inventive and resourceful (and save money!). Rather than ordering expensive business cards from a printing company, you could print them at home on cardstock (thicker-than-normal) paper. There are several ways to make unique, self-made business cards that people won’t throw away. You just have to look around online if you are short of ideas. By making your own cards you could save about one-third the price of professionally printed business cards.
Of course, there are many other “traditional” ways of cutting down on costs, such as printing less documents (which is better for the environment anyway!) or buying second-hand office furniture. If you have any other suggestions or tips on how you’ve reduced costs for your small business, we’d be glad to hear them! Leave a comment below.
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