The 8 Most Common Areas of Overspending in Business
Regular audits could save you tons of money.
Even if you have a fantastic, original business idea and a solid profitability model, your business can still suffer financially due to overspending. Businesses spend money on things they don’t need and overspend on the things they do need. Unfortunately, business leaders rarely realize the error until it’s already too late. After months, or even years of overspending, they miss out on significant profits, and in extreme cases, they’re forced to wonder why the business is collapsing.
The good news is, with proactive analysis and a willingness to change your habits, you can identify the most common areas of overspending in your business and work to get those expenses down.
The most common areas of overspending
- Labor. Many businesses overspend on labor for a few different reasons. First, they hire too quickly; entrepreneurs and small business owners are often eager to grow as quickly as possible. While this motivation is understandable, it leads business owners to hire prematurely. Soon, the business is overwhelmed with unnecessary employees and spending gets out of control.
- Waste and recycling. You probably don’t think much about your waste and recycling costs, but in many cases, business owners overspend on these imperative services. According to P3 Cost Analysts, “The waste and recycling market is worth over $100,000,000,000 nationwide. In our experience our clients are overspending, on average, about 30-40 percent.” Conducting a waste and recycling audit is a perfect start to resolving this area of overspending. You’ll learn how much you’re really paying and how much you could save with a few simple changes.
- Telecom services. Your business needs telecom services, including phone service, internet service and other staples. However, the costs for business telecom plans can be excessive. Chances are, you can find a provider that’s both less expensive and more reliable, or at least negotiate with your current provider for a better deal.
- Utilities. In a similar vein, your business is likely overspending on utilities, both because you’re consuming too many resources and because you’re paying hidden extra fees and charges on your monthly utility bills. Again, a close audit here — combined with some operational changes — can help you save a ridiculous amount of money.
- Data storage and management. These days, data is a precious resource, so your business needs to spend money on data storage and management. But too many businesses end up paying money for services and systems they don’t really need and end up paying fees for things they don’t truly understand. In most cases, your data storage and management plan can be streamlined to save you money.
- Office expenses. According to SquareFoot.com, the average cost per square foot per month in New York is $85.20. In other words, if you’re leasing a 2,000 square foot office space, you’ll be paying an average of $170,400 per month. That’s an exorbitant rate. Of course, many major American cities offer lower prices; New York is just an egregious example. But you also have to consider other office expenses that are easy to overspend on, such as paper products and equipment leases. Many businesses can operate at least partially remotely, if not fully remotely, sparing you these costs altogether. If not, simply moving to a different area or negotiating on your lease can cut your costs dramatically.
- Marketing and advertising. Marketing and advertising are practical necessities for most businesses, serving as primary channels for raising brand awareness and attracting new customers to the brand. However, because marketing strategies can get expensive, they’re also a source of overspending. The easiest way to fight against this is to examine each potential marketing and advertising strategy in terms of its return on investment (ROI), rather than its upfront cost. In other words, what is this strategy bringing you, compared to what you’re spending on it?
- Software subscriptions. There are many apps and platforms that can improve your business in some way, from project management apps that coordinate your team members to productivity apps that help you all work more efficiently. Each of these apps likely comes with a monthly subscription, charged automatically to your business. Though these rates are typically small, they can add up fast, so if your business overloads itself with too many subscriptions, the costs can become egregious.
Coming up with an alternative plan
You can cut expenses in many different ways, depending on the nature of the overspending. For example, in some cases, you can eliminate a cost entirely by no longer paying for it (like in the case of subscriptions). In other cases, you’ll need to negotiate or actively work to bring existing costs down.Whatever the case, your business will be in a far better position if you regularly audit what you’re spending and highlight areas of potential overspending before they get out of hand. Work with your financial team to ensure you have all the right monitoring systems in place.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor
Anna Johansson is a freelance writer who specializes in social media and business development.