In an ever more competitive business world, reducing your company’s running costs is always bound to be a hot topic of conversation. Here are some of the more unusual and inventive ways to do so!
Barter with other companies for services
It might seem that this rather ancient practice wouldn’t have much place in the modern world, and yet more and more small businesses are finding it financially rewarding. The arrangement works particularly well when you’re able to offer something you’d normally be providing anyway, or even extra stock that’s just lying in inventory. It might be exchanging goods for a service, for example a furniture store exchanging products in return for marketing services, or service-for-service based, such as an accounting and law firm coming to an arrangement to swap services when required. Obviously it doesn’t apply to every business, and involves a bit of negotiation, but done right all parties involved can gain tremendously. If you haven’t considered it before, give it a go and you might be surprised by the results!
Cut your monthly utilities bills
Bringing some common sense cost-cutting measures from home into the office can make a big difference. Sometimes we feel like we shouldn’t ask employees to be more conscious of electricity or water use, but besides being a lot cheaper, it’s greener too! There are even dedicated agencies that will help you reduce your monthly municipal bills by negotiating on your behalf. These costs can also be massively reduced by allowing workers to telecommute or work from home, or investing in better insulation for the office space.
Take your calls into the cloud
Like having employees come into the office each day rather than telecommuting, having a dedicated phone line with a switchboard and all the peripherals is one of those business traditions we still seem to cling to. The reality is that these things just aren’t required for most businesses anymore, at least not with a high speed internet line. If you haven’t investigated your options for adopting a VoIP or other cloud-based phone solution yet, you could be missing out on some substantial savings in the long run.
Expanding or redecorating? Don’t forget to consider second-hand furniture and equipment
The difference in price between new furniture and even just slightly used furniture is pretty astounding. We might feel that there’s some kind of pressure to only ever buy new for the office, but there really isn’t any advantage to doing so. The same goes for manufacturing equipment, and even electronics in some instances. Before you buy new, make sure to at least check out your other options.
Do as much of your own marketing as you can
Maintaining a presence on social media doesn’t have to cost your business a cent, so it doesn’t make much sense not to have one! If you don’t have the time, then marketing is the kind of field where there’s always bound to be someone in the office who’s interested in learning more about it that you can delegate the task to. Of course you do want to leave the more technical aspects like SEO and complex digital marketing to the pro’s, but the basics really are something you can handle yourself most of the time.
Hire lower down the food chain
One tradition that’s sadly seemed to die out in recent years is that of taking on a company intern. For those seeking their first position, it can be endlessly frustrating to wade through job openings which all require several years’ experience, even though they have all the relevant qualifications. And for small businesses where keeping your costs down is crucial, forking out a big salary for an experienced new staff member isn’t always your best option.
Taking on an intern who you can train up and pay a small stipend in exchange for their services can be a massively rewarding undertaking – both financially and as a kind of community initiative. The same goes for students who haven’t yet completed their studies, or someone who is studying part-time towards a qualification. You get the benefit of hiring someone who’s eager to learn and prove themselves, and they’ll be incredibly grateful for the opportunity too.
Get rid of expenses that aren’t bringing in a return
The sad truth is that most small businesses simply don’t take the time to sit down and actually work out which of their services are the most profitable, and which bring in so little income that you’d be better off doing away with them. Just working through the profits compared to the expenses associated with them can give you invaluable insight into how your margins can be improved – with virtually no effort at all.