When you’re a smaller business, your margins are razor-thin—especially in the early days. Between the responsibilities of marketing, making payroll, and handling the day-to-day expenses, finding ways to save money can be difficult. But it’s possible to get creative so you can put more money aside to invest directly in the success of your business and employees. Here’s a couple of cost-saving ideas to improve your bottom line:
Reduce Your Paper Footprint
This is the 21st century, after all—if you rely too heavily on paper, the printer and ink costs can add up. Reducing your paper footprint or going paperless is a great way to not only secure many of your files digitally, but reduce business expenses of running an office. Consider doing the following:
- Using a service like Delivered Secure over traditional courier services for companies that rely on them, from law firms to community banks and credit unions.
- Using automatic backing up on cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive.
- When working with remote contractors, use a service like HelloSign to digitally sign contracts.
Reduce Office Space with Remote and Telecommuting Jobs
The traditional office space is changing. As of 2017, 3.9 million U.S. employees worked from home offices most of the time. And with plenty of resources for keeping your team on target no matter where their location may be, you don’t always have to expand your office lease to expand your business.
- Use a centralized hub for project management. Slack is one of the most popular, and makes it easy for remote workers to find updates on any project no matter where they are.
- Use a phone forwarding service like Grasshopper to make all employees available through a centralized phone system.
- Set up programs like UberConference to conduct face-to-face meetings when necessary.
Leveraging these resources to enable remote workers will reduce your expenses on office supplies and space.
Hire Independent Contractors and Freelancers
Hiring a full-time employee can be expensive, but there’s flexibility if you can hire a talented contractor or freelancer. You won’t have to pay retirement benefits or cover their health care—you’ll only have to concentrate on finding the right person.
Browse popular freelance job boards like Upwork or find industry-specific sites like Scripted to identify the best freelancers for your particular job. You may also want to leverage your considerable LinkedIn presence (if you have one) by posting a project on LinkedIn Profinder.
Get Creative with Your Benefits
When you do need an in-house team with paid benefits and retirement incentives, it helps to know some creative ways to cut costs without de-incentivizing your employees. Consider browsing SHOP, the health insurance marketplace for small businesses, to find great ways to cover your employees.
Retirement benefits are another area to look at. Browse through lists of available retirement plans you can create at your small business, and remember that there may be some tax credits to help you with the administration of these plans. The IRS offers a tax credit for eligible businesses with substantial starting up costs for retirement plans.
Coupling these traditional benefits with creative, low-cost perks such as flextime, the ability to work from home, peer recognition systems, volunteer time off, or a well- stocked breakroom can make a huge impact to employee retention and overall job satisfaction.
Outsource Your Bookkeeping
Depending on the size and complexity of your business, you may find it easy to outsource your bookkeeping without missing a beat. Because it’s so easy to monitor your expenses and income electronically, modern bookkeeping services can include everything from accounting software like QuickBooks to finding “virtual” bookkeepers at a lower price compared to a full-time accountant within your business.
Review Your Expenses Every Month
One of the things individuals have to deal with is a concept known as “lifestyle creep.” As your income goes up, your expectations for the way you should live tend to go up, too—and the result is that your margins stay the same.
The same effect happens in business. Whereas you might have been used to reviewing every single expense when you were just a five-person operation, your growth into a larger business can make it impossible to review your cash flow and expenses. The problem is trade-off: is it really worth your time to review the receipts every single month, especially when those receipts pile up at increasing rates?
Fortunately, there are ways to get a better handle of your expenses without sitting down with a pile of receipts. Expense tracking software like Fyle makes it far easier to review everything that’s going on in your business every month, including expense analytics that help you identify problems without going down the list of expenses line-by-line.
Focus on Inbound Marketing
Do you track how well your marketing returns money into your business bank account? It’s possible that your business’s advertising expenses are completely out of whack with what should work best.
One thing that small or medium businesses often do is turn to inbound marketing. This style of marketing is focused on generating the systems that draw people in.
Inbound Marketing isn’t a single tactic so much as it is a large category of marketing—almost a study in and of itself. It differs from traditional outreach marketing (such as cold-calling and traditional advertising) by focusing on creating an attractive business presence that naturally draws people in through a number of strategies, such as content like blogs and videos and an engaging presence on social media.
Inbound Marketing does require an investment itself, but if you already have an expansive marketing budget that needs trimming, it might be better to focus on building a more attractive business that draws customers in.
Create a Savings Plan for Your Business
What if you have a specific savings goal for your business? The Small Business Administration has created an interactive savings plan training exercise that you can use to think about the way that your business saves money. This course deals with entrepreneurship issues such as putting aside money for retirement and creating personal savings for your small business.
While this course is targeted small business owners just getting started, it will help you get used to the idea of setting money aside, knowing when to borrow or use a credit card, and growing your business with a specific expense management plan in mind. The more you can manage what comes in and what goes out every month, the better you’ll be able to manage the growth of your company.