Most small businesses operate on tight budgets. They’ve got razor-thin margins, and with fluctuating markets and the need to reinvest money back into the business so that it can scale, it’s not surprising that most are constantly on the lookout for ways to save money.
Unfortunately, too many businesses end up cutting “mission-critical” expenses that come back to bite them all too quickly. They aren’t sure where to save, and as a result, end up trying to reduce spending in crucial departments like marketing or customer service, which aren’t seen as important as sales or management.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can save your small business money without taking a hit, but it all comes down to setting your team up for success and investing your existing budget into the right places. In this post, we’ll show you how to do exactly that by going over 7 surprising ways to save your small business money.
1. Outsource the Right Tasks
If you’re trying to find ways to save money, the last thing you’ll likely want to do is to start finding more people to pay money to. That being said, outsourcing certain tasks is actually a great way to save money.
For starters, it means that you aren’t necessarily growing your internal team, which is significantly more expensive than hiring a contract worker on an as-needed basis. It also means that you don’t need to cover their training, their benefits, or even to find them space and a desk in your office.
Typically, many businesses benefit from outsourcing any of the following:
- Legal practices
- Customer service (especially to answering services like PATLive)
- Specialized marketing, including ad management, web design, copywriting, and graphic design
- Custodial services
- Security services
- IT help
Each of these tasks requires specialized knowledge and experience, and you can’t afford to let any of them slide. Finding qualified contract workers within your budget will be a game-changer.
2. Opt for Annual Plans Instead of Per-Month Pricing
Most people are familiar that as a consumer, you can save a lot of money buying in bulk. Hello, Costco.
Many business owners don’t realize, however, that as long as you have the cash flow to do so, budgeting to pay for subscription services on an annual basis is a great way to save money, too.
Most subscription services (particularly SaaS software) offer substantial discounts if you pay for an entire year upfront as opposed to on a per-month basis. Most offer between 10-20% off when you pay once.
While this can be hard to swing for small businesses with tight cash flow, if you can make it work, consider taking the plunge. You can space out your subscription renewals so that you don’t get hit all at once, too.
3. Cut Back on the Meetings
Some meetings are necessary. Most are not, and those end up being an enormous time and even money waster.
If your team is sitting in a mandatory meeting every morning for thirty minutes where nothing really gets done, you’re taking away thirty minutes of potential productivity.
That might mean that your customer service reps are able to take three less phone calls, or that customers are placed on hold for fifteen minutes longer throughout the day. Your sales team calls on fewer leads, and even your internal development companies have been pulled away from work that’s critical to your business’s growth.
Skip the irrelevant meetings, including those with vendors. Email and chat-based communication tools like Slack can work just as well for most internal communication and will save everyone an enormous amount of time.
Not sure you believe us? Check out this meeting calculator from HRB to see how much unnecessary meetings are costing your company.
4. Consider Remote Work Options
Remote work is an outstanding way to save your business money and keep your employees happy all at once.
When your team is working from home, it cuts back on overhead significantly. You don’t need to have as many desks in the office, meaning you can afford a smaller office space (and monthly lease!). You’re also cutting down on equipment, utilities being used, and even small-but-still-adds-up expenses like snacks and coffee for the break room.
Remote work can be linked to an increase in productivity, and it’s also considered a massive perk by your staff. It may help you attract and retain top talent, especially since 34% of people would actually take a pay cut to be able to work from home. While we don’t recommend cutting your current staff’s pay, it does give you more room for negotiation moving forward with new hires.
5. Use Automation to Cut Back on Man Power
There are incredible automation tools that are more accessible to small businesses than ever before.
There’s invoicing software, for example, that can automatically send payment reminders if a client goes past a certain period of time without paying. You can use CMS systems to automatically follow up with leads or to alert your team to do so. Email autoresponders can reach out to customers who abandoned their cart, or who recently viewed a product page. There are chatbots that can act as the first line of defense in customer service, and inventory management tools that will alert you when your stock is low or when it’s time for a reorder.
The automation potential for small businesses is outstanding, and the best part is that many of these tools offer basic plans that are affordable even on a tight budget. Remember that the more you’re able to automate, the less time your team is spending focused on tedious tasks. This frees them up to be more productive on high-value tasks instead.
6. Go Paperless
Skipping the paper and keeping everything digital is one fast and easy way to save your small business money.
Think about how much paper and ink are used every time you print out a memo, an invoice, a contract, or even an employee record. Most businesses have endless numbers of filing cabinets stuffed full of an endless number of papers.
Paper is expensive to store, and it’s expensive to use. You’ll save significantly by keeping everything digital. As an added bonus, digital files are more secure and aren’t prone to any kind of disaster (human-made or natural). Paperless is also appealing to plenty of customers, who love to see a brand go green.
7. Invest in Your Employees
Again, this is an area where you need to spend money to make money. You want to invest in your employees because you aren’t a one-man show. You need your team to be outstanding.
This means that you need to invest in their training. Make sure that you’re regularly helping them hone their skills, both with mentorship within the business and formal training and certifications outside of it.
It’s also useful to invest financially in perks that will make your employees’ satisfaction rates increase. Encourage them to take breaks and be flexible when someone needs to come in late. Offer generous time off policies, and try to give them the best benefits you can afford to.
Keep in mind that the happier your employees are, the harder they’ll work. And more productivity is always valuable and will earn you money back, especially with a well-trained staff.
Most businesses are happy to save money, but while it’s natural to look for ways to cut costs, you don’t want to do so in a way that will cut into your business’s profit.
Sometimes you do need to invest in your business in order to save long-term, so take a close look at your budget, your business’s current needs, and your overall plans for growth. This can help determine where you need to invest your current capital moving forward.