How to Help Your Small Business Save Money

CULTRF-00031896-001Saving money is on everyone’s mind these days, but for a small business — especially one that’s just starting out — saving a few bucks here and there is a critical piece of survival during tough economic times. Below, we’ve gathered a few of the best tips from other small business owners to help your business save money.

The ‘Un-Office’ Office — It’s a brave new world out there, so why are you still trying to run your business like it’s 1984? Many small business owners find that setting up a classic office — with its four walls, landlines, reams of computer paper, and full-time office manager — just isn’t necessary, or feasible, these days.

In a recent article for the online business site, Under 30 CEO, small business owners are offered “10 effortless ways to rock at saving money.” The top three tips focus on establishing an “un-office” office, by going paperless, phone-less and virtual. Equip your team of employees with broadband internet, wi-fi access, VoIP systems in place of phones, and use cloud storage and you’ve just saved yourself the cost of leasing and furnishing an office, not to mention the costs of phones and paper.

In that same vein of thinking, many small business owners find that sharing space suits their needs better than existing only in a virtual, paper-free world. A recent Entrepreneur article offers the following tips for small business owners who do need some sort of fixed office space:

• Share the space: Rent time in a shared executive suite to meet your specific small business needs. Maybe you just need a receptionist to forward your calls to your home-based office. These types of services are available, and will save you thousands of dollars over the cost of setting up a physical office space and hiring a receptionist. For more information, visit the Office Business Center Association International.

• Save on supplies: You don’t have to pay full price for office supplies. Try downloading free software, customizing free business forms available online, buying used computer and/or office equipment from local auctions or chain stores that specialize in turning around used business equipment. Another money-saving tip is to use recycled printer cartridges instead of buying new. Not only does that save your small business some major bucks (recycled cartridges are typically half the cost of new cartridges), but it also helps the environment.

Shop Around: Don’t settle for the first credit card offer you see. Shop around for deals on interest rates and annual fees. “If you tend to run unpaid balances on your credit cards at the end of the month, shop for a card with a low interest rate,” advise the authors of the Entrepreneur article on saving money as a small business owner. “If you pay in full, it’s more important to avoid an annual fee and look for a longer grace period.” Comparison-shopping is important for all other aspects of your small business. The Entrepreneur authors advise small business owners to “seek at least three bids on everything” and point out that quoting a competitor’s price may get your vendors to drop their costs, saving you money. Another article on small business cost-saving measures, written by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, points out that small business owners would be wise to shop around and be extremely picky when choosing a bank. “Do everything possible to avoid fees like ATM surcharge, bounced check fees, and most recently the debit card fee,” the authors say. If you need to switch banks to save on these types of hidden fees, don’t hesitate. “It may be just what you need to do to save your company money,” the authors advise.

Get By With A Little Help From Your Friends: Consider joining various business associations to get discounts on insurance, car rentals, conferences, and other various small business needs. Many business owners find that joining together with neighboring businesses to do joint advertising mailers or promotional events pays off for everyone. Here is an example of how small businesses in Portland, Ore. advertise their monthly First Thursday art event. Bartering is another cost-saving method gaining in popularity. In a recent article for Startup Nation, the authors note, “aggressive expense cutters should consider barter because it can reduce cash output … and improve community business relationships.” What services do you need? What can you provide to other small business owners in return?

Do you have a money-saving idea? Please share your thoughts in our Comments section below.

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