19. Charge back expenses to clients. Professional service providers do this all the time; it can work for just about any business. When you incur expenses that aren't a regular part of providing your product or service, figure the additional costs into your customers' bills. It's a great way to recoup costs without increasing prices.
20. Form marketing alliances. Get together with other small businesses that target the same market, and combine your marketing efforts. For example, Steinman's been invited to team with a natural body-care company to exhibit at a large national trade show this fall. "Instead of spending $2,500 for a booth showing just their line, they've selected a few complementary companies to share the booth," she says. "For $400, I'll get exposure in a show I [couldn't otherwise] afford, and they'll offset their costs." You can also team up with other small businesses on advertising and promotional efforts; all it takes is a little creativity and cooperation. As with buying groups, however, make sure you put everything in writing.
21. Promote yourself. Use sound public relations and promotion techniques to gain exposure in your community and in the media that target your prospective customers. This approach is generally more effective and much less expensive than advertising. And always capitalize on one of the cheapest and most effective marketing methods of all: word-of-mouth.
22. Don't overlook any tax deductions. In addition to being able to deduct a portion of your rent or mortgage interest and utilities as a business expense, you can also deduct a percentage of various home maintenance expenses, along with a portion of the cost of services such as house cleaning and lawn care. Check out the Internal Revenue Service's website, or check with a knowledgeable tax advisor for more information.
23. Take advantage of professional association services. Richards points out that many associations offer a wide range of benefits to members, such as group insurance and supplier discounts. Ask organizations for a list of member benefits, and be sure to watch for new benefit announcements.
24. Insist on prompt payment. Don't let your clients cost you money by keeping what they owe you in their bank accounts. Set and enforce your credit terms, and take prompt collection action when appropriate.
25. Remember that time is money. When you can save time, you're saving money. Use effective time management techniques, time-saving devices and outsourcing to make the best use of your time.
As a freelance writer specializing in business, marketing and entrepreneurship, Jacquelyn Lynn has been pinching pennies in her home based office for 14 years.