A longtime customer, Crystal Martin, shares some of her money-saving tips for small businesses. She is a former marketing agency owner and the founder of mailPOW.


I am holding the newest edition of Inc. magazine where I turned to the page where my business mailPOW is featured as the “Big Idea” for April 2011. Yes, I’m bragging --- but only to fellow entrepreneurs. I got put in my place after asking a local supermarket if they carried Inc. magazine, only to be asked in return, “Is that a tattoo publication?”

But you, my fellow entrepreneurs, share my insane obsession for business magazines, and know what it’s like to daydream of yourself on the cover, and your business praised in their pages. If only I had known how stressful, how exhilarating, and how long it would take to create and grow an idea into a business that would be Inc.-worthy.

Somehow sensing my bootstrap nature in our original interview, my Inc. writer used me as a source for an upcoming article on frugal business start-up tips. Here’s a sneak peak at the money-saving tips I shared with Inc. magazine, and an estimate on how much I think the tip saves me each year.

  1. Grasshopper -- Of course I shared Grasshopper as my first suggestion! Think of how much money is sunk into fancy phone hardware systems that still don’t have the flexibility of the Grasshopper virtual phone system. Up front savings, $2000, annual savings $1,000.

  2. Executive Suite Office Space – I was content working from home and holding client meetings at coffee shops, until I found this nifty solution, Executive Suite Office Space. For $350 per month, I was able to have a mailing address in the hottest business tower in downtown Sacramento, 8 hours of office time with a view that impressed every client I met with, access to a fabulous conference room, and cheap access to similar fabulous business spaces around the world. Read the contracts carefully, especially the cancellation clauses, make friends with the staff that run the office, and you too can be part of the cheap-rent club. Annual savings, $12,000.

  3. Craig’s List for Temporary Staff – My business requires temporary assembly help, sometimes up to 40 people for 2-3 day stints. In Sacramento, Craig’s List employment postings are free, take only about 2 minutes to create, and (for minimum wage positions with no skill requirements) generate 50-200 responses within 48 hours. Temporary agencies charge double the minimum wage for their assistance, and traditional newspaper classifieds take days to start and cost hundreds of dollars to run for a weekend. Annual savings, $20,000.

  4. Half-Off Subscription Services – I felt guilty when looking at one of my recent credit card statements, I was carrying monthly subscriptions to services like YouSendIt (file sharing), GoToMyPC (online computer access), and iContact (email blast service). The charges ranged from $19.99 to $34.99, and while they made my life easier occasionally, it nagged at my frugal sensibilities. I went to cancel the first one, and found a real nugget of information, the companies will offer you a substantial discount as a last ditch effort to stop you from canceling. How much of a discount? Try half off! Annual savings, $300-$400.

You can read the full article with my tips, and many, many more from fellow entrepreneurs, in the May 2011 edition of Inc. magazine. Have a better tip than the ones I shared? Do tell!

Crystal Martin, a former marketing agency owner, founded mailPOW in 2010 which produces sound and video modules for talking cards and video cards. Crystal was recently recognized by the American Association of Political Consultants as the 2011 “Rookie of the Year” for her innovative political talking cards. MailPOW has been featured in Inc. magazine, The New York Times, The Boston Herald, and Forbes.com. Have a question or just want to connect? You can reach Crystal via email here.