It’s the little things that add up…and that is doubly true when it comes to running a small business and cutting back on spending. It’s true that there may be some areas where you can identify savings by postponing big-ticket purchases, but the lesser, everyday expenses are often where business owners waste the most money.
Here are a few suggestions involving basics to help your business run more frugally:
PHONE AND INTERNET SERVICES
OFFICE FURNITURE, EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES
- Comparison shop for phone services
It’s easy to stay with the same long-distance carrier simply out of habit. But, it’s a buyer’s market and you might be able to save hundreds of dollars with another provider. Before you comparison shop, figure out what your small business really needs from a carrier. Take stock of your entire communications needs:
It really pays to think about how you and your employees use phones in today’s business environment, and to invest some time to find the right company for your needs.
- Can you save travel costs and do more business via teleconferencing?
- How much do/will you rely on smart phones? Or are you paying for services that you don’t really need?
- What about online phone services?
- Don’t pay for free calls
Use toll-free dialing whenever you can. It’s likely that many of the suppliers and vendors you use have toll-free 800 numbers. You can call the 800 operator (800)555-1212 to find out if a company has a toll-free listing. Don’t buy an expensive toll-free directory. Make a list of all the 800 numbers your employees are likely to need and make sure they use these numbers first.
- Save on postage
Business communication is not what it was. Business people accept, and rely, on email and fax correspondence. Replace snail mail with email and save time and money on postage costs and stationery.
- Find a cheaper Internet Service Provider (ISP)
The days when you had to pay through the nose for an ISP are long gone. Fierce competition has driven down prices. Use your search engine to find “cheap Internet” or “affordable Internet”, and compare rates and services. Your existing provider may be willing to give you a better deal if you let them know what their competitors are prepared to offer you.
- Check-out different venues
Your neighborhood supplier may offer competitive prices, but, if you don’t live in a large city, and even if you do, widening your horizons could save you money.
There are great deals to be had online –but make sure shipping and handling costs don’t cancel out your savings. Look in the newspaper and online to find going-out-of-business sales, government auctions, and the like. These venues often have first class goods for rock-bottom prices. Again, make sure transport, shipping or other incidental costs don’t wipe out your potential savings. Furniture rental stores can also be a great source of “gently used” quality office furniture at deep discounts.
- Monitor office supplies
Be prudent in stocking supplies and in giving access to them. Employees are often careless with supplies—using expensive paper for drafts or squirreling away a year’s worth of ink cartridges. To better monitor usage, have one person (with a key to the supply cabinet) in charge of doling out supplies to make employees accountable for their requests and to discourage them from thoughtlessly stock-piling items.
Bottom line: Take care of the pennies and the savings will come.