It’s not exactly news: the success of any business, regardless of size, depends on two often competing priorities: to keep revenue flowing and minimize costs. It’s not always easy to strike a balance between the two.
Many small business owners find themselves focusing more on the first than the second at times. That’s understandable, especially after a major investment or expansion and for businesses just starting out.
Since cost control is, frankly, less appealing than landing a new account, we’ll focus on that side of the equation here. Consider these ways to make your operational dollars go further without sacrificing the quality you want your business to be known for:
• Needs vs. wants: Every business owner has big dreams, but it takes disciplined thinking to distinguish between needs and wants. So take a hard, objective look at all the goods and services you buy—with an eye toward identifying the purchases you don’t absolutely need. Do you need to lease a high-end copier/printer/scanner when a smaller, slower, cheaper desktop model does what you need? Do you need a landline? Are you paying for excess capacity or capabilities? The savings you get from re-evaluating these kinds of expenses can add up—and they go right to your bottom line.
• Go virtual: You may be able to save lots of capital by using virtual services on an as-needed basis. Do you really need a physical office space—especially if you travel often? Virtual office services can provide the comfortable, professional accommodations you need when you need them, even in multiple cities, without requiring you to lease a space that’s empty most of the time. The same for support staff. You can access virtual receptionist, bookkeeping and administrative services when needed without employing anyone full-time.
• Build a bench of advocates: No doubt you do business with customers and clients who keep coming back for more. Invite them to share their experiences online. Every time they post about you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media, you gain free positive exposure—without the expense of paid advertising. You can also put out your own success stories, with permission. Word of mouth has more credibility than advertising, and it has a way of cementing already strong relationships.
• Save a tree: Going paperless simplifies your life and lowers your costs. If you’re not already receiving and paying your bills electronically, you should. If you’re not invoicing your clients and customers electronically, you should. Look into scanning, document signing, cloud computing and other e-services too—along with electronic banking. The less paper you send and receive, the more you save.
By developing a committed cost-cutting mindset, you’ll soon learn to re-evaluate all your potential expenses. And you’ll train yourself to seek out more efficient, less costly ways of running your business. The results may be incremental, but they go right to your bottom line.