Like with insurance, bundling telecommunication services (such as internet, phone, web hosting, etc.) is a good way to save a few bucks. Leasing (instead of buying) equipment enables you to avoid large, upfront, capital expenditures. When renting, you don’t have any maintenance costs and repairs/upgrades are taken care of by the owner. Other ideas to save money include buying recycled printer cartages, asking for discounts from your suppliers if you buy more or pay earlier, downloading or torrenting free software (Download.com), and minimizing inventory (incorporating the just-in-time inventory strategy). Bartering should also be utilized, whereby you exchange products and services for other products and services.
Investigate trade associations. Most trade associations conduct industry research to help participants make better decisions. Additionally, they orchestrate deals for bulk discounts and often provide competitive insurance for members. Bundling various insurance policies into one package can save you boat-loads. If you aren’t risk averse, increase your deductible. Although you’ll pay a larger portion of your claims, your monthly premiums will be lower. Regarding medical insurance, inquire about past claims and the company’s loss ratio (the total dollar amount of settled claims divided by the premiums collected).
Finding a bank that suits your needs is pivotal. Regardless of where you do your banking, deposit your funds as early as possible to take advantage of continually compounded interest. Before opening a business checking account, there are many considerations one must ponder. The number of branches, transaction fees, and minimum balance requirements are three of the many factors you should investigate. Banking apps and online platforms should also be scrutinized; sometimes paying a few extra dollars to avoid hours of stress and frustration is worth it.
Although seemingly negligible, shipping costs add up fast. An obvious, yet undervalued, way to lower your shipping expenditure is to ship less. If you can, pick up orders yourself or put a low-level employee to the task. When partaking in direct mail marketing, clean your mailing list before you do anything. The USPS’s CASS (code accuracy support system) will parse through your mailing list, get rid of duplicates, and correct/clarify incomplete or inaccurate addresses. It evaluates and matches addresses with specific carrier routing codes, enabling the use of barcodes to save money. The USPS offers identical address management services, some of which are free (because undeliverables are a huge hassle for the US postal service). Additionally, eliminating non-responders, marginal prospects, and other undesirable recipients from your list will prove beneficial from a cost perspective.
Bring your packages to your preferred carrier early in the morning; they will usually ship them out immediately, giving you overnight or two-day shipping for the price of a first-class stamp. When your shipments require insurance, consider going through third-party firms such as U-PIC Shipping Insurance or Parcel Insurance Plan. These companies provide fantastic coverage for half the price of what the big carrier companies charge.
Like most situations, economies of scale prove advantageous when shipping. FedEx, UPS, and the US Postal Service all give discounts for shipping in large quantities. If you can, wait until you have a sufficient amount of parcels built up before you ship. Become a member of a specific carrier and ask your suppliers to use your account number to make shipments. In addition to increasing your shipping volume (which will usually give you better rates), having your suppliers use your shipping account makes them more accountable, preventing them from overcharging you on their shipping costs.
If you know your business will be making many standardized shipments (i.e. shipments of equal size and weight), invest in prepaid shipping. By purchasing the labels up front, you can expect to pay 20% less. Additionally, if you use the packaging provided by your carrier, you can avoid potential “dimensional” fees that are often issued if your box doesn’t adhere to the companies’ strict size regulations.
In most businesses, the biggest expense is payroll; a rock-star employee demands a rock-star salary. Interns are nice because they either work for free (gaining only experience and perhaps a few credit hours), or they work for next to nothing. Fresh college graduates are also good hires because they are capable but lack experience – which means you can pay them less. Counter-intuitively, allowing employees to work less can save money. If they only want to work part time, that’s great, you only have to pay them part time.
Micro-contracting (AKA freelancing) through websites such as Fiver, Upwork, or Guru is a cheap way to outsource your work. Whatever you need, from Photoshopping to IT, there are countless freelance professionals ready and eager to work. Post what you need done, do a few interviews, and hire the best candidate. Alternatively, for design jobs and temp work, crowdsourcing sites like 99designs andDesignCrowd allow artists to compete for your business and you decide the winner.
A related option is employee leasing through a professional employer organization (PEO) such as PayChecks. The PEO provides the workforce and assumes responsibility for providing benefits and reporting wages / employment taxes. You delegate, manage, and control the work done by the employees then pay the leasing company to cover their expenses.
When it comes to work, time is money. Therefore, if you increase your employees’ efficiency, you save money (or generate more money depending on how you frame it). One of the best ways to cut back on wasted time is to optimize meetings. This means always having a goal. Never have a meeting unless everyone involved knows the purpose. Think you need an hour for a meeting? Cut that in half. This will reduce tangents, keep people focused, and decrease the amount of useless chit-chat. Before the meeting even starts, make sure that only the right people are in attendance. You don’t need everybody and their mother to be at the meeting. As a general rule, the smaller the crowd the better.
Regardless of where you conduct business, there are various strategies concerning location that could be implemented.
First, consider if you even need an office. eBay, Craigslist, Amazon, or personalized E-commerce websites are all viable options for fledgling business. Carts, kiosks, and tents allow you to have a physical presence without the need for an expensive storefront. Sharing office space can be beneficial, so long as you find an appropriate entity to share it with. Share My Office is a website that connects businesses looking for office space with other businesses that have unoccupied spare rooms and desks.
Similarly, finding a property that allows short-term leases may be beneficial; especially if your company is rapidly expanding or undergoing solvency issues. If you need to look fancy for a few days to impress a potential client, renting an executive suite is probably your best bet. Regus.com can help you find anything from a fully equipped meeting room or business lounge to training facilities and virtual offices. Get what you need to look professional, without having to pay professional prices.