Seven easy ways to save your business money

My latest business is all about saving consumers money through a suite of websites, apps and social media pages, so it seems fitting to write about ways of saving money in business allowing you to re-invest that cash into more profitable activities.

In many ways saving money in everyday life translates itself well to business, but some methods are not as obvious as others.

1. Advertising

In one of my previous articles I spoke about free to cheap advertising tactics, here are a few of the best:

  • Take a giant banner to a local sports stadium or music arena and pick an appropriate spot to advertise to the tens of thousands of fans who exit;
  • Print hundreds of posters and go in to all local news-agents, tanning salons, post offices, charity shops and barbers and ask if they will support a local business and put your poster up;
  • If you run a retail shop or ecommerce website, why not use your invoices to shout about a new promotion, or perhaps insert a flyer into every order or shopping bag that goes out of the door.
  • Local take-away restaurants usually have teams of people delivering flyers through thousands of homes letterboxes, just last week I've had a pizza, Chinese and Indian menu. Why not partner with one of them and offer to pay 50% towards their printing and delivery costs in return for them also delivering your flyers.
  • Reach out to your family and friends and ask if they'll give 5 flyers to someone they know may be interested in your product or services. If you have 50 willing helpers, that's 250 new potential customers.
  • How about reaching out to all of your previous happy customers and ask if they'll help you out by referring you to just one of their friends. If you have hundreds of customers that's a lot of new love spread.
  • Offer your expert advice free to local radio and TV stations, schools, colleges, community groups and business memberships.
  • Join an on-line forum specialising in your niche or field of expertise and participate in the discussions using the 'signature' section to include your URL. Just avoid hard-selling and you won't risk being banned.
  • So you have 50,000 customers and you regularly email or post them promotions? What if 10,000 of those email or postal addresses are incorrect or no longer used. With some mailing services you're being charged for something that's not being utilised. Therefore consider cleansing your lists by segmenting into 2 groups, active and inactive. Continue your regular mailshots to the active group but reduce or even stop the inactive group mailshots.

Save Spend 

2. Online Business

Setting up online needn't cost an arm and a leg, you can either sell your products very cheaply through auction sites such as eBay, sell via a Facebook page or if you're a service you can set-up a website promoting yourself using free software such as Wordpress.

3. Software

Whatever software product you're currently paying for, there are always free alternatives available, and whilst free versions may lack some of the more advanced features of their pricier counterparts, it's an excellent way to get started until you can afford to upgrade. Google for example has excellent alternatives to Microsoft Office and one of the benefits of using 'cloud' based products is that usually they're backed up without any configuration needed. Try download.com for a list of hundreds of free software products.

4. Menial Tasks

Procrastination is one of the silent killers of productivity and that's why you should consider outsourcing websites such as upwork.com, elance.com, mturk.com and fiverr.com, whilst also saving a bucketful of money. Spend more time on your super important revenue generating tasks and less time on tasks such as creating graphics, web research, writing letters from audio recording, updating websites, data entry, website or app testing, voice overs for your online videos, email response handling, translation, website Q&A, etc..

Sum 

5. Office Tips

It's the total sum of all the small parts that add up to create a big dent in your finances, so don't overlook the obvious.

  • Apparently printer ink is more expensive than oil, therefore consider buying recycled (compatible) printer cartridges, or the refillable versions to use with your printer and copier.
  • Buy second hand equipment from auction websites, and visit local used office furniture dealers to save a heap of cash. Alternatively if you really must have new digital equipment such as computers, consider leasing, allowing you to spread the cost and after the term is up, swap for another brand new model. Takes the hassle out of faulty goods, which will be swapped for new.
  • Do you share your office building with other businesses? Why not club together and buy things such as insurance as a group and command better rates through bulk buying.
  • Rather than spreading your insurance over 12 months, consider paying up front and you will usually save on any interest payments and if you cancel 6 months in, you can usually get the remainder term refunded.

6. Skill Exchange

Are you skilled in a particular profession? Why not trade skills with another business owner, enlisting each other’s services without exchanging cash.

7. Discounts

Never pay full price. The next time you're buying something haggle and aim to get a reduction of at least 10% or more. You'll be surprised at what you can get knocked off the price, and if someone won't discount, find another company who will, over time these savings will stack up, even if a dollar here and a pound there.

When paying your suppliers, assuming you don't pay cash up front and get 30 to 60 days to pay, ask each one of them for a 1% or 2% discount for paying early. There are quite a few companies who does this by default and it's usually hidden in the terms and conditions on the back of the invoice.

Do some of your customers pay by bank cheque (check)? Banks charge for cashing them and usually payments made to you via online are free.

The next time you're dealing with your accountant, lawyer or consultant, ask them for ways to reduce their bill. You'll be surprised at alternatives they might have to do this, such as switching from pay-by-the-hour to a monthly retainer, guaranteeing them X months business ahead.

How many of us search for a new supplier only to stumble across the first one and enlist their services. By looking at a minimum of three you'll give yourself a better chance of getting it cheaper and finding someone you'll get on with the best, and you never know if you quote the lowest price to the one you like the best, maybe they'll price match.

Are you confident you'll stay in your current office or industrial space for another 5 years but the lease ends in 2? Why not consider renegotiating with your landlord for immediate rent reduction in favour of increasing the rent period by another few years.

 

Bonus Tip: Time

Meetings are one of the biggest killers of employee time and crush productivity. You can't eliminate meetings, but you can adopt the following to help:

  • Rather than call a meeting, try going over to that employees desk and ask the question, or if they're remote, email or ring for a quick answer.
  • Reduce the number of people attending the meeting. I bet there's at least 1 person who doesn't really need to be there.
  • Rather than travel off-site, consider holding an online video meeting, using free software such as Skype.
  • If you really need to hold a meeting, create an agenda and stick to it.
  • If you're not working, you're not making money.

 

Saving money doesn't have to be a chore or hard work, it's about thinking differently and adopting a new approach. Make notes around your desk to remind you, and after a few weeks your new ritual will become the norm. Time and Money are the most precious resources to a business, save them wisely.

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Author: Darren Williams

Darren has created over five companies in the past 14 years and successfully sold them all despite only being 32 years old. His fifth multi-award winning business ‘Harland Corp’ was one of the fastest growing online hair and beauty companies in the UK winning 16 awards out of 16 including one prestigious national accolade. It attracted over 1 million unique visitors per year between its six ecommerce stores, employed 18 staff, operated from a 7000 Sq Ft warehouse and turned over £1 million per year with a 731% growth rate during one of the worst recessions in living memory. Harland dispatched over 10,000 products each month, with 10% of those being exported to over 37 countries worldwide including Barbados and Afghanistan. He was named as one of the most influential people in the North East in 2011 alongside business legends such as Sir Peter Vardy, Tom Maxfield and Duncan Bannatyne, winning national press coverage along the way. In 2014 Darren was listed in the '35 under 35' list by The Journal newspaper.