Small business owners know the situation all too well. Expenses keep popping up on the ledger, and they’re absolutely unavoidable. Yet the money isn’t flowing in fast enough. This makes for some tough decisions. How do you go without things that you really can’t go without?
Oftentimes it takes some creative decisions to work around these issues. Thankfully, technology is on our side. Using both physical and web technology, businesses can save cash where they’d otherwise be hemorrhaging it. Here are five tips to cut back on those bills and keep the cash flow free.
1. Go cheap on PCs
There was a time when the brand of computer you bought might have mattered. But as parts became more standardized and components became cheaper, the brand started to matter less and less. Unless you own a design company, you don’t need Macs for your employees. You just need sturdy, bare bones PCs. There are plenty of routes to handle this cheaply.
On NewEgg.com you can find plenty of cheap computers that can handle all office tasks. A decent one will run you between $200 and $300. No, it’s not as fancy as a Mac, but unless your business absolutely needs features only Mac offers, you’re better off going with the bare minimum. You might even consider buying the parts and assembling your own computers. It’s really not that difficult.
2. Don’t replace terminated employees
When small business owners lose an employee it’s a temporary relief. That’s one fewer person to pay. Yet that person likely performed a task, or many tasks, crucial to the business. And so the hiring process starts again, and that process costs money. There’s an alternative, depending on the tasks the terminated employee handled. You could distribute those tasks among existing employees.
As long as you pay them extra, many employees will jump at the chance for more responsibility. You won’t have to pay to find job candidates, and you’ll pay out to existing employees less than the salary of the terminated employee. Plus, then you can see who can really work and who is just there to coast along. And you can see who handles the extra work and who flubs it.
3. Hire virtual assistance
Yes, you will probably need assistants of some kind to handle day-to-day routine matters. But they needn’t be on-site employees. You have to pay those people full-time salaries, likely including benefits. Instead, try virtual assistants. They’re typically reliable, and will work only when you need them.
Tim Ferris explains this concept on his blog, as well as in his best seller The Four Hour Workweek. Chances are you don’t have enough work for full-time assistants anyway, so the virtual route can be a big time- and money-saver.
4. Be discerning with online payments
If you sell products over the web, and so many businesses today do, you’ll have to worry about a a few different transaction fees. The credit card processing fees are an unavoidable reality. But there’s also the issue of paying to process payments from online sources. That’s another expense that eats into your profits.
When shopping around for online payment systems, look for something that fits your product. Some companies charge a percentage, which is good for lower-priced, higher volume goods. Others charge a flat rate per transaction, which works better for higher volume products. The best way to find the best deal is to find each company’s rate and run through a virtual month of online sales. Which costs you the least?
5. Pick a work-from-home day
Want to cut down on your utility bills? Oftentimes that can be the biggest bit of overhead cost, other than rent. The best way to do this is to leave the office completely vacant for an entire day mid-week. Wednesday often works best for work-at-home days, since it breaks up the week evenly. Never choose Fridays, of course, because people will just take that to mean three-day weekend.
Working at home has other benefits, including affording employees more freedom. They’ll certainly appreciate that. At the same time you save money by not turning up the AC or heat, not turning on the lights and computers, and otherwise not incurring any building costs for the day. Just make sure you have a communication system set up so employees can talk via instant message or phone call.