Every penny counts when you are running a business. Not only will it free up substantial cash that you can use to improve your company’s performance, but it can also improve your bottom line – meaning you will be more profitable. And the key thing to remember about keeping costs down is that you don’t need to implement sweeping changes into your business to make it happen – all you need is a few simple, common sense strategies in place. In today’s guide, we’re going to go through some of the things that business owners old and new should be looking at to keep down their costs. Let’s get started right away.
Track and trace
The first step in saving money is to understand where it is all going. Every cent you spend in your business needs to be accounted for, and you have to have strict procedures in place that allow you to see where your money is going. A tight, controlled budget will always outperform one that is a little on the loose side, and it will give you a chance to identify potential areas where cost cutting can be achieved.
It’s nice to have a flash office or premises to show off to your customers. But is it really necessary? Rental payments can be huge if you want to locate your business in a popular area, and you will always be paying a premium. In some cases, it can be worth it, of course, but in the vast majority? You will be far better off looking for a cheaper alternative to keep down your fixed costs and overheads as much as possible.
Are maximizing the space of your offices and premises? If not, the likelihood is that you are wasting money. Don’t forget, you will be spending money on every square yard of rental space, and if you have no need for it, it’s all going to waste. There are a couple of things you can do. First of all, consider downsizing to a new place that is sized more suitable for your business needs. Secondly, fill up space by renting it out to other firms or individuals.
Equipment, furniture, software
It’s nice to buy everything you use in your business brand new – but is it necessary? The truth is that you can save a small fortune by purchasing used furniture of PCs, for example. It’s the same principle with investing in expensive software. Could you save money by using an open source word processor like Openoffice, for instance, instead of forking out for Microsoft’s version? Maybe you could seek out an alternative to Photoshop and Illustrator, too?
All businesses use energy, of course. But the vast majority waste far too much. One of the easiest things you can do to save businesses costs is to start being sensible with your energy use. Switch utility providers every time you come to an end of a contract, as new customers always tend to get the best deals. Turn off the lights when you leave a room empty. Close windows to ensure you don’t waste heat. Run regular maintenance programs on equipment, heating, and air conditioning to make sure that everything is working as efficiently as possible. And, most importantly, get everyone on board with your efforts. If you can create a culture of energy saving, it can save you a substantial amount of money over the course of a year.
Insurance and banking
Banking and insurance charges can also vary wildly, and switching to cheaper alternatives is a simple process. You should always evaluate your insurance cover, too, to make sure that you aren’t paying for needless policies that are irrelevant to your business. If you look around for more competitive rates than you currently enjoy, you can use this information to ask your current lender to reduce their charges.
If you start tracking your waste volume, you can start to identify a lot of inefficiencies in your business. And there are plenty of ways to save, from cutting out items that are never used, to selling cardboard and paper instead of recycling it. Don’t forget, every time you throw something away, you will be wasting money – and it’s unnecessary expenditure you can easily avoid.
Hiring full-time staff is expensive. Not only do you have to pay people a wage, but you have to give them benefits, too, including things like insurance. Employees also require space, equipment, training, and much more besides – all of which you pay for. You also have to pay your employees during quiet periods where they may not be bringing any value to your business. In most cases, outsourcing to third parties can be a much more efficient way of controlling your expenses.
Of course, outsourcing still costs money, but you can cut back on this expenditure by learning how to do those activities yourself. Many startup owners do as much as they can themselves in the early stages of business. However, you do need to bear in mind that if it takes you away from your money-making activities – such as making sales – it might be better for you to outsource particular tasks.
Haggling can save you a small fortune, yet so few businesses try it. Once you have developed a good relationship with your suppliers, for instance, they won’t want to lose you. And that puts you in a stronger position, particularly if you are growing and need to place additional bulk orders. Shop around and see if you can find a cheaper source of raw materials, and then use that information to tempt your current suppliers to drop their prices. As long as you can guarantee you won’t lower the quality of your end product, haggling for a better deal is a great way of reducing your cost per sale.
Finally, try swapping products or services – it’s an age-old method of reducing costs. You might trade services with another business in your local community, for example. You get what you need, and provide a similarly-priced service for someone else. These types of trade-offs can help you reduce a lot of spending – and also help you develop high-quality relationships with local businesses.