If you’re looking to start your own business, you have more tools for success on hand than ever before. With outsourcing, free online services, powerful digital tools, and the power of social media, small business owners can get started with very little. But even you just have a website and a Twitter account, running a business still costs money. Excessive costs are one of the top reasons businesses fail. Here are a few ways you can cut costs without cutting corners.
Consult With Others
Many new business owners want to start at the top and work their way up. This is only natural — but there are big advantages to learning from the experience of others. Use your networking skills to talk to mentors, advisors, and consultants in your field. Learn as much as you can from them. You can also get involved with organizations like SCORE or the Small Business Development Center in your town. Partner with fellow entrepreneurs to pool your resources and leverage each other’s strengths. You’ll not only learn valuable new information and skills, you’ll also grow your network of contacts.
Leverage the Internet
Outsourcing might be considered a dirty word by some — but for small business owners, it can be an invaluable money-saver. There’s a reason outsourcing is a huge industry. If there’s work that doesn’t need to be done by in-house employees — whether it’s graphic design, accounting, or someone answering the phone — outsource it. Outsourcing is a variable cost: hire consultants and outsourced contractors when you need them, instead of on a fixed, ongoing basis.
Outsourcing doesn’t stop at employees, though — you should make use of cloud services to host your data, sync documents between employees, and keep your business mobile and flexible. Cloud services can save you money on billing, invoicing, software, and many other expenses.
Learn the Art of the Trade
Since the beginning, business owners have been using barter and trade to help get themselves started. Many new business owners get their name out by offering their services in trade for other services, either with vendors or other businesses. This can be vital when cash reserves are temporarily running low, or when you want to expand your customer base for the future. If finances are tight, try negotiating with your vendors for a better deal — many vendors will choose to keep you instead of losing you as a regular client.
Plan for the Short Term
A five-year plan for your business is great. But you should also plan for the next few weeks and months. One way to keep costs down is to limit your marketing materials. Just because you designed a new business card with an amazing logo and fell in love with it, there’s no need to order five boxes. Your contact information, slogan, or even that sweet logo could all change. Marketing materials can be expensive and eat up time and storage space. Business changes fast in the twenty-first century — stay flexible and be ready to change with the times.
Settle for Second Best
That new set of office furniture might look great and make a good impression. But chances are the office furniture bought on sale will look every bit as good at a fraction of the price. To maximize profits, find as many low-cost ways to do business as you can. Take advantage of free or inexpensive advertising tools. Generate some great content for your business website to focus on inbound marketing. Take to YouTube, Twitter, and other social media with informative, inexpensive content that will bring in traffic. The possibilities are endless — just be inventive and think beyond throwing money at an advertising campaign.
Starting a small business is not for the faint of heart. The statistics on failure can be sobering. Many fail due to insufficient starting capital or overrun of expenses. Starting your business on credit can be disastrous. But if you look for every advantage and save money wherever you can, you greatly increase your chances of success.