Did you know that less is more? It's a smart shopper's cornerstone: The less money you waste, the more you haveto build your business, to make investments, or just enjoy. Smart shoppers aren't nickel-and-dimers, though. They take advantage of free and low-cost offers; they have purchasing savvy and are dedicated to getting true value for every hard-earned dollar spent. Here are a few areas where you can easily begin to incorporate smart shopping into your business.

Avoid making shortsighted purchases. Buying equipment, products, or services that you quickly outgrow creates a self-defeating cycle. When you buy quick fixes instead of making "investment" purchases, you end up chipping away at your profits. You start the cycle when you are unclear about your needs and the business's direction or when you just hastily buy "stuff" to get over an immediate hump. Always think your purchases through. Focus on funneling your dollars into business-building purchases that help you provide standout service for the long haul.

Think multipurpose. As with your marketing devices, think about multiple purposes for items you invest in. Many items are candidates for the "multipurpose test," such as brochures, office equipment, furniture, and supplies. For example, a foldout business card can serve as a minibrochure. Or four-in-one equipment can allow you to fax, copy, print, and scan. Remember multipurpose positions you to save multidollars.

Sample to your heart's content. U.S. businesses spend billions every year on giveaways. Whenever possible, try an item first. This will help eliminate your buying items that you really don't need or like. Freebies are everywhere: Avery Dennison (800-252-8379) will send you labels and stationery from its product line. Lotus (800-872-3387) has a working model on CD of its SmartSuites, an integrated software package consisting of several applications (a multipurpose item). Get in the habit of asking whether a sample is available before you buy anything.

Happy shopping this week!

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