8 Smart Ways to Save Money as a Small Business
It’s tough out there for a small business. When you’re running your business on a shoestring and grit, you need to save money wherever you can. The good news is that technology makes it possible for you to run a viable small business without a huge cost. Here are eight strategies for saving money as a small business.
1. Share Your Space
Office space can get expensive. Instead of shelling out for a high-end building all on your own, consider sharing your office space. For many small businesses, it’s possible to share space and split the rent.
Another option gaining popularity is coworking. In this arrangement, you can work for free, or you can lock up specific desks for a reasonable cost. Some coworking environments include conference rooms you can rent as needed, and other amenities of a small business office – without the cost.
2. Hire Homeworkers
As a freelance writer, I’ve been on the other end of this equation. Small businesses often hire me to provide them with everything from marketing copy to internal documents to white papers. When you allow telecommuting, you cut down on your overhead costs, since you don’t have to pay for equipment, power, and office space. You can manage your business from a coworking space while your employees or independent contractors work remotely.
If you hire independent contractors, you have the further benefit of avoiding payroll taxes and the cost of other benefits.
Many jobs can be handled remotely, and you can function quite well as a small business when you hire virtual assistants and outsource such items as bookkeeping, graphic design, writing, and marketing.
3. Use Interns
Even with the recent dust-up over interns, they can still be a great source of low-cost – or even free – labor. Before you hire an intern, though, make sure that you can provide a worthwhile experience for the intern, and that you are willing to devote the time to properly oversee and evaluate him or her. My experiences as an intern were quite valuable because I was given meaningful tasks, and my supervisor offered useful feedback. Everyone benefitted: I received good experience and college credit, and the business received months of free services.
4. Hold Online Meetings
If you have remote workers, or if you want to set up meetings with geographically diverse clients, use online meetings. In today’s world, there is no reason to spend money on expensive airfare to travel to business meetings. There are a number of online tools you can use to hold meetings inexpensively. For example, Skype has a video conferencing option that I’ve used to good effect. You might want to invest in a decent camera and microphone for your computer, but it’s much less expensive than travel costs.
5. Keep in Touch With Clients Using Skype
As a freelance writer, I’ve had to call people all over the world. Whether interviewing scientists for Discover magazine, or talking to business leaders for my AllBusiness column, I’ve called experts from China to Brazil to Australia. I find that Skype is a great way to keep in touch with all my international contacts without the high cost.
While you can call other Skype users for free, sometimes you need to call a landline or mobile phone; not everyone uses Skype. Buy Skype Credit, and you can call landlines and mobile phones internationally (or close to home too!) for very competitive rates. For example, I find calling China from the US using Skype Credit is a fraction of the cost compared to using a landline.
6. Combine Resources
It’s possible to combine resources with other small businesses to save money. Talk to other small businesses and consider making orders together. By making larger orders, you have better negotiating power. From business cards to office supplies, it’s possible to split costs and qualify for perks, like free shipping, when you combine with others.
Another strategy related to combining resources is to barter. When writing my book about online freelancing, I offered free content and other services in exchange for help designing and formatting the book, and taking care of other issues. Connect with other small business owners to arrange such exchanges. Everyone saves money, and you all get what you need.
7. Turn to Crowdsourcing
One of the rising trends in small business is crowdsourcing. You can use crowdsourcing to raise money for a specific project within your small business through sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. It’s also possible for you to raise money with the help of securities crowdfunding sites like iCrowd and Offerboard, which allow you to sell shares of your company without venture capitalists or angel investors.
Crowdsourcing can also help you get professional services for a low cost. Sites like 99designs and Fiverr can help you find people to provide graphic design, marketing, writing, and other freelancing services. And, while I despise freelance marketplaces as a freelance writer, small businesses can use sites like Upwork and Guru to their advantage.
8. Rebates and Rewards
Don’t forget that you can save money as a small business when you use rebates and rewards. There are plenty of places to find online coupons and promotions that can save you money. Sign up for a program like Ebates, and you can get money back. Additionally, there are plenty of rewards cards that you can use for your business to get cash back, discounts, and other perks.
With the right planning and approach, it’s possible to save money on your small business and increase your profits.