Saving time and money in small businesses
There is little room for waste in a small business. (Shutterstock)
If you own your own business, you already know. And if you’re looking to open your own business, you need to know: it isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap and you probably don’t have endless resources for making mistakes. The most successful businesses didn’t start out with billion dollar budgets.
No, many of the wealthiest companies in the history of, well, money—think Apple, think Microsoft—began in garages and were run on shoestring budgets that hardly left funds for their founders to eat.
We hope things don’t get so dire with your own business, but our point should be clear. There’s no room for waste, especially in those early years as your business finds its footing, develops a reliable revenue stream, and considers expansions into new services, territories, or product lines. As a rule of thumb, we suggest you take any and all opportunities to save money that don’t jeopardize the quality of what your business offers. Of course, such money-saving opportunities aren’t always obvious, and you can’t afford to wait for them to appear to you in a dream. You have to research and ask questions of those business luminaries who came before you.
Or you could just read the rest of this article for two of the most important money saving strategies. Since we’ve already done the work for you. (You’re welcome!)
Use smarter hiring practices. We know you already you do this—to an extent. You hire the best candidates from the available pool of applicants. And certainly, their effective and efficient labor does save you money over the long haul. However, there’s more to hiring than that alone.
Cloud-sourcing: Many of the tasks you need completed for your business don’t require salaried employees. Graphic design, writing, website design, and IT: for most businesses, cloud-sourcing out such tasks to workers will allow you to pay a fraction of the cost for the same quality service. What is cloud-sourcing exactly? It’s a simple way to outsource specific tasks to freelance workers via sites like eLance. Freelance employees like the flexibility of these arrangements, and your bottom line goes down since you don’t pay for training, health insurance, and any wasted time as employees sit around and twiddle their thumbs without specific tasks to take on. It’s a la carte business, and it works!
Interns: When it comes to saving money through smart hiring, you also want to consider the use of interns. Filing, data entry, and other unskilled hands-on tasks, if assigned to your salaried personal, prove to be a money-losing proposition. When just about anyone can do such tasks, why put your high-paid professionals on the job. Their time and your money are better spent elsewhere. This is where interns come in. Often enrolled at a local college or university, these part-time employees work for college credit alone or for a small stipend. And it really is a win-win situation for everyone. They gain workplace experience they can list on their resumes, and you gain the cheap labor that saves you money.
Software: We’ve entered a brave new world in which many tasks once done by people can be effectively carried out by computers and software solutions. For instance, how much IT work you really need keeps going down and down. While the importance of keeping your website running fast and protecting your clients’ data cannot be overstated, software solutions like SiteLock website scanning might be all your business needs.
Advertise on the cheap. Obviously, you need to get the word out about your business and what it offers and that is where advertising comes in. Of course, advertising in a glossy magazine or on TV will cost you a fortune and might not prove all that effective in the long run (depending on the products or services you offer). There are, however, proven ways to spread the word that won’t break the bank.
Join forces with other local businesses. If your business features a storefront in a shopping center, chances are that whatever services or products you offer don’t compete with any other businesses in that shopping center. What that means is this: any advertising for the shopping center is advertising for you. If the nail salon next door to your pizza place experiences an influx of business, those customers will inevitably see your pizza place and perhaps think of it the next time they’re in the mood for a slice. So, get a few businesses from your shopping center together and put out a joint mailer with coupons and information. The cost of advertising will decrease dramatically.
Rely on social media. Maybe Facebook and Twitter have overrun your children’s lives, and you’ve waged a personal vendetta against social media. That’s fine—for your personal life. But for business, these free tools really can help you gain wider exposure for your business. So create a Facebook account and guilt your family and friends into liking it. That alone will advertise your business to hundreds, if not thousands, of other people on Facebook. Not to mention, advertising on social media offers the added benefit of a green solution to advertising, as it produces no paper waste and relies on no polluting trucks to deliver mailers.
There you have it. Two of the biggest money-sucks that business owners face. But there are workarounds, and we hope our tips here help lead your business to greater savings and a brighter financial future.
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