Do you know that you may be paying too much for many of your overhead expenses? Here are 12 simple ways that small businesses can save a significant amount of money on some of the most common operating costs:
1. Cell phones and business credit cards
Cell phone plans and credit card options can vary tremendously from one service to the other, and it is quite possible that they are not best suited to your business’ needs and spending patterns.
To find the best fit for your business, you should check out BillShrink.com. Based on your answers to a series of questions about your cell phone and/or credit card usage, this free service then helps you save money by choosing the best calling plan or credit card for your needs. BillShrink also keeps track of any new products or offers so you can be sure that you are always making an informed decision.
2. Shipping and Postage
There are several simple ways to save on your shipping and postage:
You can print Priority Mail (or higher) labels from the USPS online for free. You can also enjoy free delivery confirmation and discounts on the postage as well as the nice fact that you don’t have to wait in line at the post office.
With the USPS Priority or Express Mail, you can take advantage of the free envelopes, boxes, tape and labels. All the boxes and envelopes are divided into flat rate, Express Mail, Priority Mail and international mail usage. Alternatively, if space permits, you can save and reuse the shipping packaging material that you receive from others, such as bubble wrap, envelopes, and boxes
Make sure that you are also comparing rates between carriers. There are several sites offering this service for free, such as Shipping Sidekick and Ship Gooder.
Stop sending your faxes from copy centers and print shops! There are a number of free web-based fax services available where all that is required is an email address.
4. Bank Fees
Are banks deliberately trying to catch their customers with insufficient funds so they can charge them exorbitant overdraft fees? According to this chart that’s certainly the way it looks. Whatever the case, it pays to be on top of the cash flow in and out of your bank account and to make sure that you “budget” a few days processing time for fund transfers and non cash deposits.
To maintain the productivity and efficiency needed to be competitive and to stay afloat in this topsy-turvy economy, an increasing number of small businesses are taking advantage of a virtual sea of small business tools and applications. Though the majority of these apps are priced for the small business market, they can still put some strain on an operating budget. Many of these apps and tools have quality opensource alternatives. Some popular examples include, the Linux operating system, Google Docs, OpenOffice, GnuCash, and the Firefox web browser. There are also several mobile opensource apps. Depending on the needs of your business, you may be able to save yourself a lot of money in license and service fees by using these free options instead.
6. Utilities and resources
A small business can save a lot of money with some simple, low cost changes in the use of utilities and other resources. Some cheap energy-reducing products include: CFL light bulbs, a power strip that stops drawing energy when devices are turned off, timers, and light sensors. Resource-conserving practices include: shutting down computers when not in use, reusing shipping material, printing double-sided pages, using GPS when traveling on the road, and not letting vehicles run idle.
7. VoIP PBX Phone Systems
Having a reliable and multi-featured phone system is extremely important- especially these days when every customer counts. Several online companies offer low cost VoIP PBX phone systems. There are are also a few free, opensource options, such as this one from AdminsParadise that includes features such as, call parking, paging, Interactive Voice Response, music-on-hold, custom queuing.
8. Travel Expenses
The Internet has proven to be a powerful tool in helping small businesses locate low-cost airfare, auto rentals, and accommodations. To make your searches more efficient, go to Kayak.com. This site sifts through airfares, hotel rates, and other travel products from over 140 different sources. Choose the offer you want and Kayak.com will direct you to a site where you can buy the ticket.
9. Health Insurance
Maintaining the rising cost of health insurance for business owners and their employees has been a challenge for many companies across the board. Short of giving up on health coverage, here are a few tips to reducing expenses.
10. Technology/ Furniture
There are many ways to outfit your business with the appropriate technology and furnishings and still save money. The first rule of thumb is to try and wait where possible for any cutting edge technology since prices usually drop after the initial rush for the product subsides. For an updated list on the best web deals on computers and other electronic devices, check out Slickdeals.net.
Other tips include, seeking reconditioned or second-hand equipment and furnishings, and in some cases opting for equipment leasing.
With the recent passing of President Obama’s stimulus bill, the issue of taxes has been getting a lot of publicity lately. Make sure that you are maximizing your business’ tax deductions. For more information, read this article, and here’s another.
Though high-tech or high-profile advertisements and flashy brochures can impress customers, a little creativity with a focus on customer importance and involvement, can go a long way towards promoting your business and preserving your budget.