9 Business Expenses You Can Reduce or Eliminate to Save Thousands
Businesses are supposed to make money. So why do small-business owners waste money on things they don’t need?
According to Business Insider, cash-flow problems account for 82 percent of all small-business failures. That’s nearly double the second-place factor (no market need for the product). If you run a small business, you're more likely to succeed by selling a product no one wants than you are with a weak cash flow.
Reducing expenses can be tricky, though. How can you tell which expenses are necessary and which ones aren't?
Necessary expenses either make you money or differentiate your business from the competition. If you pay a lot for customer service representatives, but your company offers the best service in its niche, that’s not an unnecessary expense -- it’s a market differentiator. If you spend tons of money on an automated service line that's rarely used, that’s an expense to chop.
Check out these potential spots to save money in your business:
Printing costs add up quickly. Paper, ink and machine maintenance are bad enough, but employees also spend their valuable time dealing with printer issues. Eliminate as much paper as possible to streamline operations and cut costs. Use online signature services to sign contracts so even your most formal documents can avoid the print room.
We started by removing all but one printer. Now we've put the printer unplugged in the back room. If you need it, go in there and plug it in. It's cut back on people printing by over 90 percent.
2. Out-of-town conferences
Travel is expensive. Do less of it by investing in web conference software that allows you to have face-to-face conversations from anywhere around the world. Don’t eliminate travel entirely -- an in-person meeting with a major prospect could pay serious dividends -- but do reserve your travel budget for high-priority situations.
3. Buying only from the big guys
Big service providers expect small businesses to fit in the boxes they offer. Smaller local options can customize their services to meet your specific needs. Make a list of all the major companies you work with, then check local listings to see if another company could offer a more personalized service for less money.
Insurance isn’t cheap, and I'm not saying to just cut it out entirely. Whether it’s car insurance, building insurance or liability insurance, regularly review your agreements to determine whether another company could offer a better deal. The time investment is minimal and could save you thousands of dollars every year for the exact same benefits. If money is especially tight, raise the deductibles on your policies. You’ll get lower payments, but if disaster does strike, you’ll be on the hook for a bit more of the total.
Last time I looked at my company's health insurance and compared it with others out there, we got a 20 percent cheaper plan while decreasing our co-pay by 10 percent and increasing our coverage. It pays to shop around.
5. Adding staff when freelancers can do the job
Do you really need to hire full-time graphic designers or writers for a few jobs a month? Offer part-time positions for smaller roles. Outsource work to freelancers for specialized tasks, but don’t go for the cheapest talent available. Good freelancers might have higher up-front costs, but it’s better to pay once for high-quality work than it is to pay once for bad work -- and again for someone to fix it. This is also helping other small-business owners grow their business.
6. Interest on credit card balances
Many small-business owners use business credit cards in their own names to keep operations running. If you use a card, pay it off every month in full. Interest charges add up quickly, and once you get into the habit of paying them, it’s difficult to stop. the average credit card interest rate is 15.96 percent. This could mean thousands in savings each year by just not holding a balance on your credit card.
7. Energy-wasting technology
Green energy isn’t just good for the environment; it’s also good for your wallet. Install energy-efficient lights, windows and climate systems. Encourage employees to power down their computers when they leave.
8. New equipment that isn't really better than secondhand equipment
It’s nice to have new things, but not if those new items don’t offer significant advantages over used ones. Before you place a big order for a bunch of new file cabinets, consider the gently used alternative. Avoid going too cheap -- things like used laptops and chairs can lower employee morale and make people question whether the company values its workers. This is an opportunity to find some local partners with whom you can trade.
9. Needless office space
Do you have clients regularly coming in and out of your office? If not, consider moving to a location with lower rent in a less prime location. Offer remote work and work-from-home opportunities for employees to reduce the amount of space you need.
A penny saved might be a penny earned, but you can’t grow your business without investing in it. Pay your best employees what they’re worth. Invest in software that helps you serve your customers better. Double down on marketing techniques that deliver proven results. Funnel the money saved from cutting unnecessary costs into the parts of your business that truly drive results.