In the movie "Dr. No," James Bond is admiring a huge aquarium in the archenemy's laboratory when a voice from out of nowhere surprises him. "One million dollars, Mr. Bond," Dr. No says, walking into the room. "You were wondering what it cost." Bond coolly responds, "As a matter of fact, I was."
Small-business experts say entrepreneurs should be more like Bond--not necessarily employing a license to kill but being more concerned about costs. "Usually small-business owners think growth in sales is all they need to worry about," says William F. Doescher, senior vice president at Dun & Bradstreet, an international research-based business information provider in Murray Hill, New Jersey. "But they might grow right out of business if they don't watch their costs."
To help small-business owners control costs, Dun & Bradstreet and Entrepreneur surveyed 501 small businesses to find out what they're spending on, how it's changing and why. The results reveal some surprises, a lot of strengths and more than a few weaknesses in the ways entrepreneurs measure, understand and control their costs.