Whenever you hear someone say it’s time to cut costs in your business, you break out into a cold sweat. After all, you’re already operating on a miniscule budget. What is there left to cut?
Rather than fear the idea of cutting costs, use these realistic tips to ensure you’re not spending outside of your small business limits:
1. look at utilities
Whether you work from home or have retail or office space, utilities are a key expense. And while you don’t want to freeze out your customers by turning off the heat completely in the winter, there are subtle changes you can make that will reduce your bills.
Start with a schedule thermostat. Set the temperature to be ideal during the hours that customers or employees are in your business, then turn your air/heater way up or down (depending on the season) so that it’s energy saving at night.
Consider fans as an alternative to air conditioning, as well as space heaters instead of blasting the heat all day.
Some cities offer incentive programs for businesses that work to reduce their energy use, so see if there are ways to save with your utility company.
Beyond that, turn off all lights and devices at night, and unplug anything that’s not in use.
2. negotiate better rates
If you buy regular inventory or office supplies, you might be able to haggle a better price with your vendor. Instead of buying one box of printer paper every month, see if you can save by buying in bulk from your office supplier. Ask for a discount if you pay your invoices early. A good vendor will want to keep you as a customer, so should be willing to negotiate.
If your vendor isn’t, shop around and see if there’s a better deal out there.
Also look for bundling opportunities. If, for example, you have business liability insurance as well as car and home insurance, see if you can get a discount for having your policies all with the same insurance company.
3. look for alternatives
Be honest: do you use your 20-line phone system as much as you should? That—or other unnecessary expenses—is a great place to cut back on spending. Most of your staff probably uses their cell phones to make calls anyway, so consider whether chunking the phone system is feasible. You can use Skype and Google Hangouts instead.
What’s the situation in the break room? Are you supplying gourmet coffee to your team, but it just sits in the pot getting wasted each day? Think about buying a pod system coffee maker so no coffee is wasted and people only use what they’ll drink.
And if those snacks you’re supplying aren’t getting eaten, cancel the order. People tend to bring their own food, so they probably won’t even miss them.
You’d be surprised how many places you can cut costs without negative effect. Just look at what you’re spending and pull back on anything that isn’t helping you grow your business.