Being an entrepreneur means you're independent and free to make your own decisions and set your own schedule. It also includes taking sole money management responsibility, even when there are little funds to manage. Many businesses operate on a tight budget, especially when starting. Watching expenses is something that can be done throughout the different stages of starting a business--not just when there is little money coming in. So how can you run a professional, productive company and still save money?
- Do it yourself --One benefit of starting your own business is the wealth of experience gained by doing a lot of the startup work yourself. The added financial benefit is not having to hire someone to do it for you. As Melissa Yamello, founder/creator of Storybook Studio , an online children's arts and crafts business realized: "Everything I learn to do myself is a skill I'll have for the future. If I try and it fails, then I'll spend the money, but I gain experience, too."
Yamello created a product and realized cost-savings in bringing it to market. "Filing my own business startup documents and my own trademark on USPTO--this has actually taken a lot longer than it would have if I used an attorney." But she saved a significant amount of money.
- Outsourcing --When starting a company, it makes sense to do the majority of the work yourself, but once it starts growing, bringing in help may keep the momentum going. If you don't have a creative bone in your body or lack the technical skills of Bill Gates, find someone who's blessed with those talents. Outsourcing can save on employee expenses such as taxes and benefits. In addition, outsourcing provides an opportunity to "test out" people before bringing them on board permanently. There are many sites geared toward finding home based professionals you can outsource or hire on a freelance basis.
- Bartering --This is also an excellent way to save on costs while obtaining a quality product or service. Think outside the box for creative ways you can swap services in exchange for what you need. If you need a web designer, could you exchange your product or service to reduce or eliminate the expense? Or could you offer to provide a link to their site on yours (which may appeal to them especially if you have a lot of traffic on your site)?
- College Students --Another option to finding low-cost resources may be as close as your local college(s). There are many students eager for an opportunity to utilize their skills and possibly intern to build experience they can put on their resume.
- Advertising --Buying ads can eat up much of your profits. But the internet provides many options for free advertising. Posting on forums, writing blogs and writing articles are excellent ways to draw attention to your company as well as bring traffic to your website, all at no cost.
- Networking --Getting involved in local networking groups is an excellent way to sell yourself and your business. Meetups.com provides a list of networking groups in your area. Many of the groups are free of charge to attend.
- Printing --Costs also add up here, but taking advantage of free offers can help. Vistaprint.com frequently sends out free offers once you place your first order. You can get free business cards, post cards, note cards, etc., as long as you pay the shipping fee.
- Accountant fees --Hiring an accountant is a good idea, but there are steps you can take to reduce their fees at the end of the year. Using software such as QuickBooks can track your revenue and expenses throughout the year, and with just a few clicks, transfer that information to your accountant. Because this saves your accountant time, you may experience a lower bill.
There are many ways to go about saving money, but the biggest impact on your business's finances is made by creating a solid and reasonable budget--and sticking to it. Comparing actual accounts to budgeted amounts quarterly will help you stay on track. It will also help you plan accordingly for the following year when trying to identify areas in which you need to reduce expenses.
Lesley Spencer Pyle is the founder and president of HomeBasedWorkingMoms.com and HireMyMom.com , and she is the author of The Work-at-Home Workbook: Your Step-by-Step Guide on Selecting and Starting the Perfect Home Business for You. Pyle has been working from home for more than 13 years.