Seven ways your business can save money in tough times
In a down economy like the present one, everyone does a little belt-tightening. Unable to grow revenue easily (if at all), most businesses seek to maintain profitability as long as possible by shaving costs wherever possible.
In that spirit, here are 7 simple things that small businesses can do to save money…
- Switch your phone service to Voice over IP. After a few dicey years when VOIP was a challenge even for bleeding-edge pioneers, it’s now well tested and works largely as promised. And it’s far cheaper than wireless or traditional landline.
- Utilize open source software to eliminate license-purchase payments and ongoing update fees to traditional software vendors. Open Office (from OpenOffice.org) and Google Docs are good examples that both provide word processing, spreadsheets and presentation software. They maybe don’t have all the bells and whistles of Microsoft Office, but more often than not they do what you need them to do …and they’re free.
- Use Software as a Service (SaaS) wherever possible. SaaS is advantageous because you can get the productivity of top-level software, better than what you could probably afford to buy flat-out. The SaaS model provides access to traditional software over the Internet for a monthly fee. Popular examples are Salesforce.com and Netsuite. Clients do need servers, up-front licensing and system knowledge. But the vendor maintains the software and performs all the system maintenance, reducing your need for costly in-house IT support.
- Switch to a free email service from AOL or other traditional provider. There are enough free choices around these days (Yahoo! Mail, Gmail from Google, etc.) that it’s essentially become a commodity. If you have a website, of course, your developer can easily set you up with email capability on your own www.mybusiness.com domain; that may not make it quite free, but at least it will be painlessly bundled with other substantial value …and probably still less than the subscription services.
- Consider bartering some of your products or services for those of similar value that your business requires. Of course, this gimmick doesn’t save real economic value (your people are tied up producing the good that’s being bartered), but it does husband cash. And if it happens to come at a time when some of those people are less than fully loaded with client work, it may save them from unpaid “holidays” or even a layoff.
- Seek out blanket discounts on everything possible. Your Chamber of Commerce is an excellent information source for member-to-member discounts on insurance, workers’ compensation and similar deals offered by other members. Your business category or ownership makeup may make you eligible for still more discounts or subsidies that are essentially “hiding in plain sight” …but you will need to flush them out.
And last, but perhaps most substantial…
- Switch to an payroll service provider. We spilled a bit of ink on this subject in our recent post, “Top nine reasons to go with an online payroll service”, so we’ll mention only those that directly impact cost here…
- You will typically pay less than you would for either a traditional batch-oriented service or for acquiring commercial application software. (Compared to the latter, it could save you the cost of an in-house IT department!)
- You should have the option of printing checks locally (generally not available with a traditional service), thus saving on shipping expense.
- Because the system is truly online, you should be able to preview your entire payroll before actually running it; this can eliminate re-runs, which most traditional service vendors charge for.
By implementing these hints, your business may not only weather this recession intact; you may be able to continue funding marketing and product development to a level that will enable you to leapfrog your competitors, once we all come out on the other side.