Let's be real, getting a business off the ground is hard. Balancing employee management with everyday operations with promotions and PR with new client outreach with current customer satisfaction...yikes, that can get overwhelming and expensive.
Aside from your standard penny pinching accounting and budgeting tips, there are plenty of ways to stretch your business budget. By employing some of these overlooked budget hacks, you can shave hundreds off your operating costs and watch your profits soar.
1. Locally optimize your website for more foot traffic.
The majority of mobile searches usually end up in a purchase from a local business. Think about mobile users who search on the fly: they might Google "Mexican restaurants near me," read some reviews, and then select a nearby restaurant to eat at. For free or nearly free, you can optimize your website through reviews, citations, listings, and more to make sure you're directing as much foot traffic into your store from the internet at possible.
2. Maximize free resources.
Just about every business owner knows the importance of having a social media presence, especially since it's free. But what many businesses overlook are the associations, groups, and networks that can be used to their entrepreneurial advantage. Customers like businesses that are part of associations and broader professional networks because it increases the trustworthiness of the brand. It's also a great way to meet other business owners and develop mutually beneficial, professional relationships you can learn from.
3. Negotiate with your suppliers.
And by negotiate, I mean haggle. When it comes to product suppliers and vendors, treat their asking prices as more of a starting point than the actual price you'll be paying. Wifi, cable, office supplies-many of these things can be negotiated through your account manager, especially if your business has been a long-time customer. Shaving a few bucks off of bills here and there can add up to savings of hundreds of dollars.
4. Barter your business with other businesses.
Back up to the mutually beneficial, professional relationships idea. You can barter the services you offer with the services of other businesses to achieve mutual goals. Let's say you own a small PR firm and your office is in dire need of a professional paint job. Find a locally owned painting business and offer to do some PR work for them in exchange for some of their services.
Election season has made "outsource" a dirty word, but you don't have to outsource every last business function to another country. Freelancers and contracts can often be hired for much less than a full time employee. If there's something you'd normally hire a position for, such as website design, writing, social media, etc., consider hiring an independent worker. More often than not, they can get the work you need done for a fraction of the cost.
6. Cut employee costs.
If you don't want to outsource any jobs and want to keep employees, you can always try cutting down the costs accumulated by employees. If you've been catering lunches once every week for years and the cost is getting to be a bit much, reduce it to just monthly catered lunches. Some businesses have even found a four day work week to be a better fit for their employees, who work hard to enjoy their extra day off, and their costs, which are reduced by not having a fifth day of office operations (think: water, electricity, etc.).
7. Embrace inexperienced hires.
Experienced employees are awesome, but also expensive. Unless you're in a business that absolutely requires a certain level of experience, such as a private medical practice or law firm, be more open to inexperienced employees. Recent grads are often willing to accept a much lower salary than someone with 5 years of experience, and with a little guidance, an inexperienced but bright employee can do just as good a job.
8. Buy used electronics/sell old electronics.
Electronics are one of the most necessary and expensive parts of owning a business. Computers, phones, laptops, upgrading outdated technology-it adds up quickly, but most businesses and offices can't operate without them. The good news is that the prevalence and necessity of technology has made attaining it much easier. Try going through a reputable refurbished electronics store for your tech needs, such as Device Pitstop. You can buy your business's electronics at a discounted rate, sell your older gadgets without biting too much of the cost, or even trade when it's time for an upgrade.
9. Buy discounted office furniture.
Much like electronics, another costly but necessary piece of office equipment is office furniture. Desks, chairs, and conference room tables are deceptively expensive. Discount furniture companies offer cost-effective solutions for getting your office the right look. You can rent office furniture or buy from a clearance selection for discounted pieces that are good as new. Taking the discounted route on the expensive stuff like electronics and furniture can save your business thousands of dollars.
10. Promote partnerships with charities.
As the giving season approaches, advertising tends to get more expensive. A great way to maximize your brand's exposure on a business is by partnering with a charity. Not only does it attract loyal customers and draw attention from a wider audience, but it also gets you tons of free marketing and publicity through your charity of choice. Team up with a local nonprofit this holiday season to save on marketing and outreach.