Small to medium-sized businesses are constantly looking for ways to reduce costs around the office. Overhead expenses cut into profit margins and can ultimately run your business into the ground if not allocated properly. Here are some money-saving tips, along with a brief list of free services to help boost the bottom line of your business:
5 Tips to Cut Costs in Your Business:
Buy Recycled Printer Cartridges*
Printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids on the planet, but you can cut your printer ink costs by up to 50 percent if you buy through a recycled cartridge supplier, whether locally or online.
*Note: Contrary to popular belief, using remanufactured ink cartridges or any ink cartridge that is not made by the original equipment manufacturer does not void your printer’s warranty.
Use a Cloud-based Phone System
Review your phone usage and monthly communications costs, then compare solutions to help reduce this necessary expense. Switching to a cloud based phone system like Switchvox Cloud can instantly cut your phone costs (sometimes by as much as 60 percent), and gives you the ability to easily scale your usage up or down as business grows and declines. Look for phone rental options that can also reduce out of pocket costs as you expand the number of users.
Get the Best Credit Card
Shopping around and negotiating rates for your business credit card is essential to getting the best rates available (which fluctuate often). Frequently, credit card issuers will waive the annual fee or reduce the interest rate if you simply ask. Search and compare all business credit cards online with sites such as CreditCards.com and CompareCards.com
Audit Your Insurance
Perform an annual review of your business’s insurance coverage to see if you are eligible for any umbrella-policy discounts or competitive group insurance plans through your trade association. Also, raising the deductible on your insurance usually lowers your premiums – saving you money even if you end up having to pay your deductible.
Use Open Source Software
Software, from the most basic to the complex, is essential in business. Before you spend hundreds of dollars (or more!) on software purchases or expensive updates, check into open source alternatives. Open source software is typically free, but may require a small investment for customization. Regardless, the total cost is often only a fraction of the price of commercial products while still offering all, if not more, of the features. You can find open source software for everything from invoicing to accounting, project management, document creation, and even communications platforms (using open source Asterisk).
Free Stuff for Businesses
- Free Software: You can receive free software products through trial downloads, freeware, and limited versions of the full product from websites like Download.com.
- Free Forms: Visit Entrepreneur’s Formnet site to download free forms of all kinds (business, finance, technology, legal, etc.)
- Free Energy Audit: Your can request a free energy audit from your local power company. An inspector will visit your business and show you ways you can reduce your utility bills every month.
- Free Data Storage: Save money on printing costs by storing your files and documents online for free, using cloud data storage sites such as Google Docs or DropBox.
- Free Workers: Use unpaid interns recruited from your local college or university. Providing school credit as opposed to a paycheck and is a valuable trade for students in need of course credit and real-world experience. The majority of schools have formal internship programs already in place and will make the process easy for you to hire a free*, eager-to-learn worker. (There are strict guidelines on using unpaid interns, so be sure to check with your HR department or legal advisors.)
- Free Marketing: Leverage all of the free social media platforms available for businesses to network, build your customer base, and showcase your products and services: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google + are among the main players.
- Free Video Conferencing: Videos conferencing eliminates a lot of costs if you were traveling to meetings or making long distance phone calls before you discovered it. GoToMeeting and others offer free video conferencing services, or consider using Google Hangouts, which has a simple interface and sign up process.
- Free Goods & Services: Swapping one product or service for another is a good way to avoid cash outlays and ship out slow-moving stock. Join a local association or chamber for bartering opportunities, or check out this article on Money Crashers for a full list of bartering websites (and always follow IRS guidelines on tracking and reporting bartered goods and services).
- Free Events: When executed properly, sponsored company events can not only be free to execute, they can actually make money for your business, your sponsors, and charities involved. Take this free course from Udemy and learn how to throw events for nothing out of pocket and attract corporate sponsors.
- Free Business Courses: Speaking of online learning, the very popular Udemy offers more than 22,000 courses. Many of the online training videos are free and cover marketing, sales, social media and more – to help you boost business. Tons of other websites today also offer free courses on a variety of topics. For a list of free business management courses, check out the Small Business Administration’s website.
- Free Mailing List Cleanup: The U.S. Postal Service will clean up your mailing list for free, correcting addresses, noting incomplete addresses, and adding ZIP+4 numbers so you’ll be eligible for barcode discounts.
- Free CRM Software: Customer relationship management (CRM) is an important element in every business strategy, but can get pricey. Sites like FreeCRM.com and Highrise offer free CRM software for smaller businesses with less database storage needs than an enterprise would require.
- Free Surveys: Surveys are still a must for conducting market research within the business world. SurveyMoney.com allows you to build free surveys online and keep a pulse on customer opinions, behavior, and satisfactions.
Free trials, demos, and limited versions of software and services are a great way to try something new for your business without breaking the bank. Once you have found a product or service that works for your business, plan to budget in the full, paid version so that you may receive the full benefits. While free is great to get started, you will eventually run into feature limitations or other restrictions; so look for affordable solutions that will help keep your business productive and growing for the long haul.