Running a business online or offline can be costly. When you are running your own small business, you’ll want to look for ways to cut costs whenever possible. Any money that you can save can be reinvested into the growth of your business or be pocketed as profit.
Until you actually roll up your sleeves and start to plan your business, you don’t realize how many operating costs go on behind the scenes. In an online business, it’s easy to think that the domain and hosting costs are the only expense. Actually, that’s really just the starting point. The reality is that the domain and hosting are only the first step and likely the least expensive investment. Stocking inventory itself can cost several thousand dollars up front. Then there’s the shipping costs, as well as customer service. You may also need office supplies for your daily operations.
It’s important to plan ahead and then stick to your budget plan to keep costs down. Take some time out each month to review your expenses and look for different ways to cut costs.
Here are some practical tips that a small business owner can follow to cut costs
Buy used office equipment.
If you need office equipment for your day to day operations, consider buying used equipment. Many offices sell off their office equipment when they downsize or close. You don’t need the newest stable, desk or chair. You just want something functional. Take a look at the local ads, you’d be surprised at how many used office equipment sales are going on. You’ll cut costs much more buying used equipment.
Buy in Bulk and Negotiate.
Especially if you are stocking inventory. There’s no point in buying 10 or 20 items. After all, you plan on selling much more than that. Buy in bulk. You’ll get a larger discount from the manufacturer if you buy a few hundred items. Also it gives you much more bargaining power when you buy more. Even though you are spending more money at once, the per unit cost is much lower. Not only does it cut costs, but it increases your profit margin.
Buy Products that Save You Money.
Quality products can save you money in the long run. Consider buying quality brands that will last longer over cheap products that will break often and require replacements. In the past, I used to buy cheap printers for my computer. They would last a few months or a year, but I would be spending a lot of money on ink cartridges and then have to replace them often. I got tired of that pattern and spent a bit extra on a higher quality laser printer. The laser toner only needed to be replaced once in 2 years and wasn’t that expensive. The printer is still running very well and I likely won’t have to replace it for a few years to come. In the long run, spending the extra money has helped me cut cots in maintaining my equipment.
Of course, you probably already know this, but many products are much cheaper when you buy online. Do your research and price check online. But beyond products, did you also know that you can find a lot of low cost solutions to services as well? If you shop online, you’ll find great deals on a multitude of business services such as faxing, telephone, teleconferencing, printing, etc… These services can be expensive if you go the traditional offline route. However, you can find them at much reduced rates if you shop online. Many of these services also offer free trials so that you can try out the service for some time before making the decision to buy. This gives you the opportunity, not only to try out their services, but also cuts costs in paying for those services at the same time.
Here are examples of several cost effective online solutions that offer free trials:
- eVoice® Gives you a 6 month free trial for a toll free number. This is by far one of the best free trials and cost cutting service you’ll find. If you need a toll free 800 number, you can have one free for 6 months. This is a full featured trial. It allows you to work from anywhere, conference call, voicemail transcription, etc… After your trial period, plans start from $12.95.
- RapidFax.com Rapid fax is an email fax service. It allows you to send and receive faxes through your email so that you can operate your business on the go. This is a valuable service if you travel often and still need to have access to a fax machine. While their service is normally $9.95 a month, they provide a 30 day free trial.
- www.Shoeboxed.com Shoeboxed is a business organization service. They help you stay organized with your business operations. You can scan in business cards for contacts, keep track of your mail and business receipts. Using their service you can go paperless with your business quickly and easily. Their expense tracking service makes book keeping easier and simplifies your year end taxes. They provide a free trial of their services with a simple sign up that allows you to get started simply with your email.
- Mint.com This is a completely free budgeting and personal finance service. However, you don’t have to limit yourself to tracking only your personal finances. There’s no reason you can track your business finances with their service as well. I’ve been using mint for years for my financial planning. It’s an awesome service and it’s completely free. I highly recommend them. If you don’t need anything more robust, this is the perfect free solution.
There are many ways that you can cut costs as a small business owner. Be creative and be imaginative with the business. Think outside the box. You can take many of your services virtual and your customers will never know the difference. Shop around and negotiate for the best deals. Make use of free trials and offers that are available. Remember, these services want your business, so make them woo you. Any money that you save is money that you’ve earned!