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Tips and advice on ways to save money for small business

Ways to Save Money for Small Business

Save money with smart spending habits that will lower costs and ultimately lead to bigger profits and higher earnings for your small business.

Cost cutting hacks for business can be a bit paradoxical. It's often necessary to spend money to save time. Be prepared to spend a bit on tools and services that save time, increase productivity, improve efficiencies and ultimately save money.

Time is your greatest small business asset; not money.

OK, so it's not always about time.

Top 5 Ways to Save Money

Click on any link below to find useful hints, hacks and tips for saving money on business expenses.

  1. Save Money on Marketing & Advertising
  2. Save Money on Web Design
  3. Save Money on Software & Tech
  4. Save Money on Staff & Admin
  5. Save Money on Office Equipment
  6. Bonus Ways to Save Money

Sometimes it's just about knowing where or when to buy cheap, high quality goods and services that offer the best value for money.

1. Save Money on Marketing & Advertising

Marketing (and advertising) a startup is extremely high risk because of the high costs involved and no guarantees on return. Fortunately, with a little bit of creativity, it's possible to get some pretty effective buzz and visibility without breaking the bank.

1.1. Integrate Marketing with Everything

There should be almost no aspect of your business that doesn't tell people what you're about. If a customer makes a purchase, then include a pamphlet or brochure offering them new deals in the packaging.

Digital Marketing Tools to Use Daily

Generate explosive growth using the top digital marketing tools to drive more traffic & convert better.

  • Analyze competitors' backlinks and SEO using SEMRush
  • SEO & Competitor Research with SEMRush

    SEMRush allows you to discover competitors ranking in Google.

    Analyze the top ranked sites in your niche to understand how and why they are dominating.

    Analyze a competitor right now.

Have a customer service query to handle? Do your best to resolve it as positively as possible and then, once the customer is happy, ask them to recommend your business on to their friends and family. In fact, customer service is one of the best marketing opportunities available to you.

1.2. Use Free Ad Budgets

Did you know that signing up to Bing or Google's consoles for webmasters often causes them to push an offer of free online advertising. Here's what I got offered from Bing:

Bing webmaster console offering $100 in free search ads

$100 in free search advertising is great - remember that Google will also make a similar offer too for first time business webmasters. Admittedly, $100 might not last long if you're competing for high value keywords, but it will give your company name and brand exposure on thousands of low value queries.

1.3. Be Newsworthy

Offering free use of your service, or a free product giveaway is a great way to generate interest and buzz without having to spend more than the cost of a single product or account. What's nice about this tactic is that combined with a well constructed press release, the promotion might end up getting free, local news coverage.

Press Release Quick Start

Learn how to write a press release that gets publicity every time.

  • how to write a press release that gets publicity
  • Discover how to create newsworthy content and convert that into valuable media coverage with a compelling pitch.

    Learn how to 'hook' journalists using attention-grabbing headlines and convert these into valuable media mentions.

Do something that is interesting and share it with local news, bloggers and influencers to get free coverage.

Do something for your community. Help out on a local project. Be a sponsor (often sponsoring smaller events costs very little). Your imagination is the limit.

2. Save Money on Web Design

Everyone needs a website; regardless of whether it's a simple place-holder page, something to show off your resume and portfolio, an eCommerce store, or even a community portal. There's a lot to be said for learning Web design basics, but don't waste time with unnecessary custom design or learning how to code yourself.

2.1. Plan First; Build Second

90% of the wasteful expenditure I have encountered in the world of business websites came about because of a lack of research. Instead of taking time to understand their own requirements, companies simply approached Web designers and paid them huge amounts to create flashy custom sites that were soon out of date and even more expensive to maintain.

Think about what you need. Then research what is available - you'll be amazed at how cheap and efficient modern online site builders are. Only then are you ready to get started.

2.2. Use Free Trials

Almost all online website builders offer free trials (usually lasting about 2 weeks), or a free basic account (with paid upgrades). This means that you can at least get online for free initially, and only pay once the site is established.

Free Website Builder Trials

Update or migrate your business site with one of the world's leading free online website builder trials.

  • WordPress is the most popular blogging platform in the world
  • WordPress

    WordPress powers approximately one third of all websites on the Internet.

    It's free, quick & easy to use. Popular with both small and large blog sites because of the short learning curve and huge range of services - from domains to responsive templates.

    Create a beautiful new website in seconds. No experience needed.

2.3. Free Website Software can be Expensive

Free CMS (Content Management System) software like WordPress and Drupal offer a fantastic free framework for creating powerful, professional and flexible websites. But, there are plenty of hidden costs here...

Chances are that your website will need a customized theme in order to have a unique look and feel that promotes the brand. Either this has to be purchased, or a Web designer has to be paid to customize a free theme.

Then, once the site has been completed it needs to be hosted somewhere. Decent Web hosting that comes with a bit of support has a habit of costing lots. By contrast, cheap Web hosting might save money but it can cost a lot more in terms of reliability - it's easy to lose business when your site spends most of its time offline.

Domain name purchases. SSL certificates. Support. Maintenance and upgrades. All of these have either explicit, once-off costs, costs that are built-in to other costs, or are recurring. Be careful not to underestimate these.

3. Save Money on Software & Tech

We pay for expensive software that often has completely free alternatives, and many of these free alternatives are as good, if not better, than the commercial version. New technologies crop up every day that offer huge advantages in efficiency and productivity at drastically reduced costs. It's up to you to find them.

3.1. Use Open Source Alternatives

Don't feel like buying Microsoft Office? Why not take a look at the freely available Open office.

Check out this list of free business software for you to explore and use without incurring any costs at all.

3.2. Move to the Cloud

Traditional software packages come with a host of built in expenses that online, cloud based software solutions don't. For example, buying a software DVD from the store means that there were manufacturing costs, packaging costs, and transport costs built into getting that item to the shop (let alone the retail markup).

Cloud Software Quick Start

Trial Microsoft Office 365 for free for 30 days and setup cloud based office software in minutes.

  • Microsoft Office 365 Business Software
  • Office 365

    Office 365 is the most widely used cloud based office & email software controlling over 25% of the market.

    Office 365 takes traditional office software like Outlook and bundles it into an online cloud service that can be accessed from anywhere, any time.

    The perfect office software solution for any business already familiar with Microsoft.

A cloud based company has hardware and network costs, sure, but these are significantly lower and getting lower all the time. They also have no middleman. They are much more flexible too - often charging you only for the functionality and data you use - instead of putting everything onto a DVD.

Online, cloud based software is a more efficient and cheaper way to provide software services.

Cloud software is also updated behind the scenes on a continuous basis, unlike purchased software that is either subject to inconvenient updates, or may simply become redundant over time. It's not only cheaper it's better value for money.

3.3. Embrace New Technology

One of the best examples of how new technology (in recent times) has helped produce massive increases in efficiency, ease-of-use, and effectiveness along with huge decreases in cost comes from the communications industry.

Previously, companies needing complex phone based communications would have to install a hardware based PBX system. This was both extremely expensive, highly-technical and generally prohibitive to any business without serious finances. Now you can do a better job, in twenty minutes, using an online cloud based virtual PBX system for a fraction of the cost and without requiring any technical expertise.

That's just one example.

Delivery Optimization

Slash transport and delivery costs using cutting edge heuristic software apps like Optergon.

  • Route optimization & delivery planning with Optergon
  • Plan delivery routes using cutting edge heuristic algorithms that produce achievable, real-world optimal route solutions.

    Use delivery planning & route optimization technology to deliver big savings on day-to-day transport & labor costs and help drive profits and market share.

New technologies are springing up everywhere to replace old, manual, hardware based systems with slick, online apps at a fraction of the cost. Make it a point to keep tabs on what new offerings are coming online.

4. Save Money on Staff & Admin

There are two fundamental ways to save money on human resources:

  1. Automate more
  2. Pay less

Fortunately, there are some very easy ways to achieve both.

4.1. Use Online Freelancers

There are a lot of online marketplaces, like Freelancer and Fiverr, that help connect people who need work done with people who have the skills and knowledge to do it. What's good about these platforms is that they generate a lot of competition - meaning that you can get great work done at a fraction of the price it would cost locally.

The downside is that until there are established relationships with reliable freelancers, it may be that the quality of the work done is not what you expect.

4.2. Automate with Online Productivity Tools

There are vast communities of developers working to integrate apps and services into online platforms.

Small Business Accounting Quick Start

Benefit from enhanced speed and automation using cloud based accounting software like FreshBooks.

  • Cloud accounting software for small business
  • Over 24 million people use FreshBooks with over $60 billion in invoices paid to date.

    FreshBooks offers arguably the world's leading integration with 3rd party software and systems to transcend the functionality of traditional account software.

A good example is the eCommerce industry, where it is now possible to integrate an online store with a host of other cloud based productivity tools in order to manage everything from tax and accounting to stock control and order fulfilment.

Automated productivity means less manual work, with corresponding savings on labour costs.

5. Save Money on Office Equipment

Computers, printers, desks, chairs, and all sorts of other gadgets and accessories are going to cost you. There's no way to avoid forking out for these items because they are basic essentials.

However, there is a lot of competition in the electronics and office furniture industries, and with great competition comes greats deals, sales, and prices.

It's very likely that at any given time leading office supply stores like Staples, Amazon office, and Office Depot are offering discounts on different items. Checking back in a few days time might bring a whole new spectrum of savings on other products.

The disadvantage to this strategy is that you may not end up buying what you need immediately - having to wait a little while before it comes on special.

On the plus side, because you are buying new items (at marked down prices), you'll still qualify for any guarantees and warranties that come with the new products. Not often the case buying second hand goods.

6. Bonus Ways to Save Money

Plenty of our readers have fantastic tips and ideas that they have used to save money in their own businesses. Here's a selection of some of the best ideas we've seen (be sure to check back regularly as we'll keep this updated as new ones come in):

  • Don't pay cash for business expenses: Keep a paper trail of business related costs so that you can write these off as business expenses and reduce your tax bill.
  • Research associations and rewards programs: While it may cost a bit upfront, finding the right rewards program or business association can end up saving on a wide range of business expenses, like insurance and travel.
  • Don't overpay on postage: Ensure you always pay precisely the right amount in postage stamps in order to avoid overspending or having products returned without being delivered - useful for eCommerce stores shipping items via USPS.

Have you bootstrapped a startup? How did you get through the tough times when money was short? Share your experiences and ideas in the comments.

How to prevent spammers hijacking your servers

There's nothing worse than finding out your business website has been hacked and is being used to send out bulk emails, spam visitors, or spread malicious software.

If it hasn't happened to you, don't fall into the trap of thinking that this scenario is something that happens to other people. Spam hacks are absolutely rampant.

Fortunately, the business model of spammers requires them, more often than not, to automate their hacks to seek out vulnerable Web servers and sites, because they have to do things on a huge scale to turn a profit.

Small Business Accounting Software Reviews. Pic by Matthew Hine

Bookkeeping, taxes, accounting, and a host of other financial and administrative tasks are vital to keep your small business running smoothly and profitably

Intro to cloud technology

Among their top 3 challenges, according to most business leaders, is the ability to keep pace with new technology - like the cloud.

Being able to understand what new technology offers and how to use it to increase productivity and maintain competitiveness is not easy, because technology moves moves faster than our ability to keep up.

Small businesses, in this regard, have a distinct advantage over larger ones, and we might well be entering an age where small companies start out-competing big ones because of technology.

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Despite spending most of my time working on my own startups, I find myself drawn to reading about what other people are up to, or making use of - whether it

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Having access to a great tool like Google Trends means that it is easy to keep an eye on how important brands and

How Google hurts small business online

Think of the Internet economy as a farmer’s field full of little green plants. Each plant represents a business, and the stuff that makes them grow is traffic (just like rain makes real plants grow).

Now, imagine that in between the rain clouds and our fledgling plants, there is a huge funnel that collects the rain and pours it over the field. Let’s call this funnel Google.

Google’s job is to make sure that all the sprouts get a fair share of water (provided they are of good quality), and that any weeds that are harmful to the ecosystem aren’t watered. All day long Google funnels rain onto various different plants in order to help them grow.

Grumpy cat Internet sensation

In case you haven't already heard, there's a little kitty out there with feline dwarfism that earns more than you do.

Grumpy cat, according to Wikipedia, seems to be raking in millions of dollars, and this might strike you as odd given how difficult it is to start a successful enterprise these days.

3 top tips to pitching big clients

Recently I was fortunate enough to attend a meeting between my startup and one of the largest logistics companies in the country - so that we could pitch our new service.

The size of this client would almost be sufficient to reach sustainability and profitability in one go. Obviously landing a whale in your first pitch as a new startup is the ultimate dream come true, but it can be hard to turn it into reality.

The meeting went ok, but there were some hard lessons learned about how to pitch big corporate clients that my partners and I took away from the experience.

Inspirational entrepreneur quotes

Life as an entrepreneur can be extremely tough, which is why it is important to sometimes pause and listen to inspiring quotes that keep you going.

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