No matter how profitable your company is, there’s always that wee bit of fat that can be trimmed away to reveal a faster, shinier, more efficient version of the business. Cutting unnecessary expenses and keeping costs under check works best when not done under duress. The best time to do it, is in my opinion, during a year that has seen exceptional profits. That way, not only do you pad your profits a little more, the cuts don’t hurt as much either.
Technology offers us multiple options to streamline operations, if we so choose. Here are a few tech savvy cost-cutting hacks.
1. Automate wherever possible.
The Industrial Revolution showed us exactly how much of a difference automation can make in reducing overhead costs and increasing productivity. Now, you aren't manufacturing Model Ts in your line of work, but with the boom in SaaS tools there’s a way to automate at least the routine parts of nearly every business function.
Tools like FreshBooks or Xero can reduce your headcount. Things like accounting, taxation, invoicing and payroll can all be handled from a single tool, freeing up your time and resources for growing the business.
2. Move IT infrastructure to the cloud.
Whether you are a dentist with a simple brochure-like website or an ecommerce business with a multi-lingual, multi-currency transactional website, you need servers to host your website. The software you run for managing various aspects of your business need hosting someplace. You also need to store all your business data securely in one place. Historically, this was all managed by buying and maintaining your own physical servers. Trouble is, all of this involves huge capital expenditure to begin with. As your business grows bigger and your computing needs expand, you will need to upgrade all your machinery at huge recurring costs.
With the advent of the cloud, that’s no longer a worry. You can now host your website on shared servers hosted by third-party vendors like GoDaddy or HostGator and pay as you go. If and when your needs grow, you just upgrade to a higher package with no fixed costs or depreciation involved. Your data can safely reside on cloud-based storage systems like DropBox or Google Drive.
Alternately, you could go for all-in-one cloud computing platforms like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services for one-stop solutions to your infrastructure needs. The best part? The security of your data is taken care of end-to-end by expert third party service providers, allowing you to focus on what you do best.
3. Opt for free apps and tools.
Besides savings by going to the cloud, you can reduce your costs further by simply shopping around a little before plonking down precious dollars on expensive software. If you only look a little carefully, you’ll find a free version for nearly every software that your business uses daily.
Analytics does not really need a subscription to KISSmetrics, when the free and fabulous Google Analytics is around. Do away with those land lines in your office and replace them with one of WhichVOIP’s nearly-free VOIP phone solutions. Save on business travel and video conference with faraway clients using free tools like Skype or FaceTime. Don’t have millions of email subscribers? Opt for the free version of email services like MailChimp.
4. Invest in green technology.
We keep hearing about all the benefits to going green in every aspect of our lives. From offering a new lease on life to the environment to extending our own lifespans to saving huge on medical expenses, there are reasons galore to adopt the "reduce, reuse, recycle" mantra in our daily lives.
However, going green is not just for your personal life. Businesses can save millions of dollars annually from investing in eco-friendly technologies. CFL and LED lights use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. A single CFL bulb can save you $30 to $80 in electricity bills over its lifetime. Multiply this with the total number bulbs you have in your office and you’ll see how it makes sense to invest in this more expensive upfront, yet cheaper-in-the-long-run. technology.
Light sensitive switches or switches with automatic timers can turn off lights during the day when it’s bright outside, avoiding wastage of electricity and saving he effort needed to manually turn each of these off. Appliances and electronics with high Energy Star ratings reduce your electricity usage, as well as your carbon footprint. Even something as simple as using double sided printing instead of single sided, can save hundreds of trees and stationery costs annually.