Saving money wherever you can will help you build a strong financial future for your small business. No matter what industry you’re in, you need to pay attention to your bottom line. These simple ideas can help you save both time and money so you can get on surer footing.
- Stop with the endless meetings.
We’re social creatures, but spending hours in meetings socializing with coworkers is not a way to spend your small businesses’ time. This is a crucial area where you can save time, and therefore money. Evaluate the true cost of those meetings to your company.
- Be a discount hunter.
Even though they may not advertise it, many larger retailers offer discounts for small businesses. Just ask – it won’t hurt! This approach normally works better on larger items like home office equipment than a stack of Post-It notes. But small discounts add up so be sure to ask!
- Save the delivery fee.
If you’ve ever ordered a pizza for a pick up, you know that there are savings involved in being your own delivery driver. For orders of reams of paper, and other smaller bulk office supplies, a truck or SUV will do just fine and may save you money on business supplies.
- Keep track of petty cash to the penny.
Even if you’re spending a small sum of under $75, you should still keep record of all of your business related expenses. Petty cash drawers should be accounted for just as carefully as your checking accounts. Remember every penny does count.
- Rely on the cloud to maximize storage and minimize costs.
Don’t sink your small business budget with hardware that will be outdated before you make it through your critical first year, and difficult to maintain in the long run. Cloud-based tools for accounting, project management, marketing automation, customer relationships and more is available to help you get more done without maintaining expensive hardware.
- Associate yourself.
Trade and business associations can offer more than just a membership. You can save quite a bit on insurance and other business related expenses like car rentals and phone services. Sign up to get the best deals – most associations have reasonable membership fees.
- Make outsourcing a priority.
Employees are helpful but can be costly in the early days of your business. Keep your budget in order by making outsourcing a top priority over hiring. Independent contractors can get the job done without coming with the salary, office space and benefits costs.
- Lend out your expertise.
Save money on publicity and garner attention with your target market by showcasing your expertise. Look for opportunities to teach a class, speak to the community or write an article for your ideal audience. It costs time but it’s worth the investment for the exposure.
- Focus on free software.
Freemium software plans offer multiple features for zero cost. As you look for cloud-based solutions to your business admin and online accounting issues, focus on the freemium products to save on your costs early on. You can upgrade later for more features as you grow.
- Explore executive suites.
Solo or small business doesn’t have to mean home based. Executive suites and shared office spaces can improve your business’s prestige and offer helpful business services. Many come with receptionist services, private mailboxes and part time office hours. Search for office business centers, executive suites, coworking spaces and shared office space in your area for ideas.
It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or in growth mode, every dollar you spend is a dollar you don’t have to keep your business going strong.
About the author:
Tobi North – Creativity rock star and marketing master
I enjoy being innovative and creating communications that customers can relate to. I am always looking for that “light bulb” moment, when I find an interesting topic that I know our customers will love to learn more about. In between creative brainstorming sessions, you can probably find me at a concert or searching for the best BBQ joint in town. .
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Even though you’ve put an effective infrastructure in place to ensure your invoices are paid on time, there’s always this one stickler client who’s just not paying up. Before you send out the goons, know that there are better ways to encourage your clients to pay their outstanding invoices. If your past-due notices have gone unanswered, it’s time to channel your frustrations into these steps to turn delinquency into dollars:
- Communicate – Reach out to the client using whatever method works best for them — phone, email, text. Keep a record of all communication attempts. Once contacted, the conversation should be empathetic in tone. Find out the client’s story. Was there a problem with the product or service provided? Are they just really busy? Is there a cash flow issue? We all know that small businesses can easily get into a cash crunch. Allow them a chance to explain the reason for neglecting payment terms.
- Create – Once the client’s situation is understood, create a solution that works best for everyone. Setting up an alternate payment plan could be an easy way to resolve the situation, and maintain that valuable client relationship. Even if the payments are a small amount per month, something is better than nothing. Most businesses, even those that are struggling, want to be upstanding and work with you in order to maintain a positive professional image.
- Continue – No luck the first time you reached out? Continue communication attempts on a daily basis. Email and/or leave phone messages every single day. And put it in writing. In your correspondence, include a list of the days and times you’ve tried to make contact. If this is all to no avail, it’s time to take your communication to another level.
- Confront – If you can, plan a visit to your client’s office. It will be much harder for them to make excuses when meeting in person. During your visit don’t lose your temper, make threats, or harass the client. Talk through the situation professionally and come up with mutually beneficial solutions.
- Consult – Still no luck? It’s time to have your lawyer draft a demand letter. It’s not very expensive and it might prompt your client into paying without having to resort to more formal legal actions.
- Complain – Reporting an egregiously late client to a business reporting bureau can provide a powerful incentive for them to pay. A formal complaint to bureaus such as Dun and Bradstreet, TRW and Equifax will become public record and likely impede the client from obtaining credit in the future. In fact, most will pay you right away to get the complaint expunged from their business credit report.
- Collections – If all else fails, you can turn the debt over to a collection agency (who, by the way, will take a large percentage of the total amount owed.) Before handing it over for collection, try offering that same percentage as a discount to your client in order to settle.
- Court – If you feel it is worthwhile, you can go to small claims court for outstanding balances of $2000-$7500. For balances that are substantially more than that, you can take it to superior court. Consult with a legal advisor and budget appropriately if you decide to take this course of action. The amount of time and money required may not be worth it, especially if the client is going through bankruptcy or closing up shop.
After a period of time, consider cutting your losses. Avoid throwing good money after bad and turn your efforts to more positive and profitable endeavors. Prune the delinquent client from your customer list, write off their debt and chalk it up to a lesson learned.
About the author:
Lawton Ursrey – Sage One awareness guru and fellow entrepreneur
I have a healthy disrespect for the impossible and a passion for the little details. While I run my own small business, I am also passionate about helping other small business owners. If I’m not running my business, or helping you run yours, then I’m probably playing guitar.
Follow me on Twitter.