Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Simple ways to reduce small business expenses

It’s funny how complicated people can make things sometimes. They’ll create elaborate plans that require a lot of work and effort to carry out when often there are simple answers right in front of them.

Take cost-cutting. We all know the economy is tough right now, and everyone is trying to save money wherever they can. Yet many people are missing the most obvious stuff.

Take the lights, for example. When you were young your mom or dad probably told you to turn off the lights when you left a room. Well, that’s still good advice today – especially in conference rooms and other common areas. If no one’s in there, turn off the lights. If there is natural daylight coming in from a window and you can see well enough, turn off the lights. If you’re going out to lunch and your office has a switch, turn off the lights. Every time you do it you’re saving a little money. Do it often enough and it will add up.

The next time you need office supplies, try heading to Sam’s Club, Costco or another warehouse club instead of the local office supply store. You can save some significant cash on your consumable supplies by buying there. Just be sure you need as many of a given item as the clubs will sell you. Paying for eight plastic “in-boxes” and using only one is a waste of money, no matter how much money you saved. On the other hand, if you know other small business owners maybe you can pool your purchasing needs, helping all of you reduce your costs.

Switching from a fax machine to an Internet fax service such as MyFax helps in several ways. It cuts the up-front cost of the machine. It cuts the cost of supplies such as paper and toner. It cuts the phone costs since you don’t need a second phone line. (Don’t forget you pay for maintenance on that second phone line as well as the service.) It cuts your power consumption since you don’t need to have a separate machine that’s left on just in case you receive a fax. And it also cuts some other, less obvious costs, such as file cabinets to store the faxes, space to put the file cabinets in, and the gas you use going to and from the office just to check on your faxes. Add all that up and your savings can be significant.

Finally, try renegotiating the cost of some of the goods and services you’re paying for each month. Remember that you’re not the only business that’s concerned about the economy. Even the big companies are focused on keeping business wherever and however they can. It takes some courage to ask, and you may still be told “no.” But if that’s the answer, you’re no worse off than you were before you asked. If the answer is yes, though, you’re ahead of the game.

Remember, a plan doesn’t have to be elaborate to be good. Do enough of the simple things and you’ll make it through these tough times.

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