Need To Cut Costs? Start With These 10 Money Saving Ideas
Finding ways to save money in your business is not always as apparent as you think. Here are ten money-saving ideas all business owners should consider.
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None of us is immune to what's currently happening in the economy, forcing many business owners and executives to consider ways to cut costs. I recently asked my leadership team to take a good, hard look at their expenses to determine what can and should be cut and gauge the effects those specific savings would have on the business.
Finding ways to save money in your business is not always as obvious as you think and can come from a few places that are not typically looked at. Here I outline ten money-saving ideas all business owners should consider.
1. Root out process inefficiencies
Take a look at how technology can play a role in improving efficiencies. How can you utilize technology to minimize time, effort and money spent where it doesn't need to be? Whether it's analytical data that helps you be quicker to market or process improvements that make your supply chain run more efficiently — plus having good processes around where you spend money.
For larger projects, obtain three quotes from separate vendors before placing an order. Make sure you negotiate the best possible cost on a meaningful purchase. Be assured that what you are buying is right for your business.
2. Reduce office expenses
I think that the mentality of being scrappy is essential. What I mean by scrappy is being pugnacious and determined not to be wasteful. Think local and establish relationships with local businesses. In our industry, for example, we buy, manufacture and print labels for our customers and brands. Fortunately, our label vendor is literally down the street, so we're saving money on transit costs. Utilizing your local network ensures you're getting the best price, not just in direct costs but also in time and effort.
3. Make sure you have the right employees for the right roles
This boils down to "right people, right seats." When you look at the world today and how the labor pool has, for various reasons, contracted, having the right person in a role who's passionately engaged is vital. They get it, they want it and they can do it. Over the long haul, that spells increased efficiency and savings. Running a business where you don't have the right people in the right seats makes everything cumbersome and challenging.
In most businesses, marketing tends to be something companies can overspend on. That's why it's essential to have the right marketing person in the right seat. This person has relationships and expertise and knows when a consultant can do something and when something should be handled in-house.
Employee retention helps, too. Teams have chemistry, they understand how people operate and they play off each other's strengths and weaknesses. When you're constantly replacing people on the team, that's all learning that must be done over again instead of doing the job.
4. Expand on social media and community engagement
I've seen brands effectively connect the organization to the consumer through social media. One thing to understand is that your content should be organic and user-generated, not scripted or overly polished. Recording content on your own versus paying an influencer or agency thousands of dollars has a cost-benefit. But there's an even bigger reason why you want to choose this path.
Today's consumers see right through content that's heavily produced and edited. Instead, they follow, work with, purchase from and remain loyal to easily relatable brands that don't take themselves too seriously and have no problem being transparent about every aspect of their business.
Sit with your marketing and finance teams to determine what percentage of the annual budget needs to be allocated toward purchasing equipment and boosting posts. Use data and analytics to determine what posts help you meet your goals (e.g., engagements, views, conversions, etc.) and place your bets accordingly.
5. Refine, then automate
When you're talking about logistics and shipping and the operational piece of the business, the more automated you get your orders in and out the door, the more efficient you'll be. This hopefully means you'll have more bandwidth to spend time doing other things, right?
I also believe in minimizing clicks and pain points within your sales process. Have information readily available, so employees don't have to click five different screens to get to what they need to get through. You want to free up the time to sell and reduce the time spent on administrative tasks. For example, you could automate invoicing or utilize a service that consolidates your accounts payable, so you don't have to pay somebody for that.
6. Slice operational costs
If you can operate all aspects of your business under one roof, that's ideal. For example, if you complete the shipping or manufacturing of your products in-house, you don't want to be in three different buildings — you want to be in one building so you can organize things, get the best use of your staff, maximum use of the space and highest possible output.
You don't want to sit on tons of office space because that is bleeding money. Whatever you can do to get out of those situations as soon as possible, the better off you'll be. Looking into co-working spaces might be worthwhile in certain cases, too.
7. Look at insurance and cash flow
You need to have somebody who has the experience, knows the right questions to ask, understands your business needs, and is bound to save you money regarding insurance. For employee health benefits, make sure people have a choice and have an option that makes sense for both the business and the employee. Over and above making sure you're not under-insured or over-insured, it's more important that you're insured correctly.
Avoid short-term loans, cash advances and borrowing on high interest. If you're buying things on credit, pay it off. And don't get smashed with interest. Make sure you're only buying what you need. All of those things factor into good cash flow.
One of the things my CEO mentor always used to say is that there always needs to be a certain number in the bank. So, if we even got close to that number, he would send out fire alarms. It was all hands on deck evaluating things, cutting things we didn't need and making sure that the company's cash position was one we felt comfortable with. This way, we could sleep at night and know we were in good shape. That's just one of those old-school mentalities that have always stuck with me.
8. Staff up or hire out?
If you don't have the expertise, you need to be ultra-selective in ensuring you're not just being penny-wise and pound-foolish. I always say you don't want to step over the dollar bills to pick up pennies. If you can save money on wages and other things, that's great, but you must set KPIs.
You have to understand (and communicate) what your expectations are from these independent contractors; otherwise, you're just going to be spending good money without seeing any benefit from it. And that's throwing money out the window. So, there's a little bit of a catch-22 there. You'll save money on the fringe but must have measurables to ensure they're performing.
9. Reduce travel expenses
If you don't have to travel, don't. But when you do need to travel, travel effectively. Make sure that there's a good travel policy about meals, hotels, flights, etc. These expenses can go through the roof if you don't have some control. Use Zoom, Teams and other messaging applications when possible, but also be cost-effective in managing travel.
10. Specialize in what you're good at
So, you're a sales and marketing operation, and you're struggling. Then you, all of a sudden, decide you're going to start doing packaging, but you have no clue how to do it. This is probably a recipe for failure because you're not focusing on the areas you're good at, and you're taking time and effort away to try and learn something you don't need to. But the nice thing about the way the world is that somebody out there can do it; you need to find the right partner.
Being careful with money doesn't mean being cheap — quite the opposite. It means honoring the value of the money entrusted to your company by customers for goods and services they care about.