When you’re a business owner, keeping your costs down and your bank accounts in the black is your top priority. Though a somewhat obvious statement, creating and sticking to a budget is essential for any business’ success. However, looking for ways to decrease your outgoings is oftentimes overlooked by business owners in favor of keeping on top of the day-to-day running of the company. How do you go about digging up those all-important savings?
1. Budget Balancing
According to Forbes, a whopping 8 out of 10 businesses startups in the United States fail in the first 18 months. One of the biggest reasons for business failures is an inability to control costs. In essence, keeping your budget in check can ultimately control your success. While many business owners look to run-of-the-mill cost-saving solutions, finding new ways to cut costs can give excellent results. From looking into potential tax write-offs to creative staffing solutions, there are many opportunities for a business owner to cut operating costs and save.
2. Tackle Travel Expenses
It’s a fact of business: sometimes you or your employees are going to have to travel for meetings, sales calls or trade conferences. However, getting your staff where they need to go doesn’t have to break the bank. If you find that you or your employees are regularly traveling to certain destinations, set up travel alerts through one of the many websites that specialize in travel deals. You can often find significant savings on flights, hotels and rental cars. Additionally, try to plan your meetings midweek. Flights are often the cheapest on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
3. Go Virtual With Your Phones
You know it’s important to your customers that your phone is always answered by a bright and cheery voice, but managing the staff and equipment can drive your budget straight into the red. Smart businesses are turning more often to using virtual call centers to manage their incoming calls. For a low monthly fee, your phone will be answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless if someone’s in the office or not. Also, look to provide your customers with an international toll free number (ITFN), which can easily be attached to your virtual call center. By providing easy access, many businesses oftentimes see an increase in revenue and an improvement in their bottom line.
4. Promote Yourself Online
Getting your brand and business recognized is a key element to your success, but traditional advertising campaigns can be expensive. Make the world wide web your promotional tool by investing time in social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. This can help to increase your customer base on a global scale, allowing you to access your marketplace both quickly and free. If your site doesn’t already have one, try adding a blog and aim to provide at least 2-3 posts that are relevant to your business a week. Doing so can easily increase your page rankings on search engines, thus putting you in front of the competition.
5. Talk to Your Tax Professional
Every year new tax write-offs and breaks for businesses are announced, but many business owners might not be aware of them. For example, you can often write off the costs involved with purchasing new equipment and even part of the cost of your homeowner’s insurance if you have a home office. According to the IRS, any ordinary and necessary business expense can be written off, giving you a huge boost towards your tax bill. Speak to an accountant to see what you should be writing off. It’s often surprising what you can uncover.
6. Use Freelancers & Part-Timers
Between payroll costs and benefits, having full-time in-house staff can cause your budget to climb. While there may be some elements of your business that require you to have employees, many times there are qualified freelancers and part-time employees who are able to take care of what you need. Many people are looking for part-time positions, particularly new moms who want to be able to work and take care of their family. Blogging, social media campaigns and website maintenance are easily handed off to a qualified freelancer, who oftentimes can deliver great material at a deeply competitive price.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Haggle
Though it may seem somewhat déclassé, asking for discounts and price reductions with companies and individuals you regularly deal with is a great way to keep your costs low. If you regularly order office supplies from a company, ask if they can provide you with a discount if you order in bulk. Some companies will also offer a discount if you pay invoices within a certain amount of time, or if you pay early. Essentially, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. More often than not, companies are happy to reward good customers and regular users.
Keeping your budget in the black is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner. By seeking out discounts and savings where you can, you can significantly decrease your outgoings. Don’t be afraid to get creative and ask for discounts where you can. The results will often surprise you.