As a business owner, you’re always looking for ways to cut costs and raise your profit margin. There are some obvious ways to save money. You’ve heard them all before—suggestions like shopping around for the best prices on everything from office furniture to cell phone contracts, barter for services with clients, and keep hiring to a minimum.
They are all valid tips, but we wanted to generate a list of creative ways to save money, ways that even experienced business owners could learn from. So, we reached out to several entrepreneurs and came up with these money-saving tips:
1. Reach out to former college professors
Shaun Tuck, the owner of Professor Egghead, a company that promotes STEM education for kids, suggests reaching out to former college professors. By using these contacts, you might be able to connect with a business professor to get some advice, or find a student that’s looking for an internship opportunity.
Tuck spoke to his former professors and was put in touch with the law department at USC. The team helped Tuck’s company form an LLC, which was overseen by the head of the department and didn’t cost the company a dime.
2. Use online sites for printing
If you’re headed to big box stores to print any materials, you’re probably dealing with steep markups. Rather than pay high prices, James Robert Webb, who owns his own indie record label, uses the website GotPrint for all of his printing needs.
“My first batch of business cards at a large chain office supply store cost $300,” he says. “Now, I find cheaper alternatives online and get businesses cards printed for a fraction of that cost.”
3. Outsource front desk tasks
Rather than bringing on a full time employee to answer phones or handle emails, you can outsource these administrative tasks to virtual businesses. For example, you can hire a virtual assistant on a part-time basis to handle your emails. You can create an ad for a virtual assistant on a site like Elance, which is a freelance site where experienced workers can apply for your job.
You can also outsource your receptionist position. Businesses like Ruby Receptionists can handle your incoming calls, set a voicemail for you, and send you email alerts as specified. There are several pricing options to chose from, but compared to hiring someone full time, you’ll save money.
4. Try shared workspaces
If you’re just starting out, you could check out the possibility of renting shared workspace, suggests business coach, Jennifer Martin. A lot of cities are now renting out space within a building for this purpose, since nowadays so many businesses are run primarily by a laptop and smartphone. You typically have access to conference rooms so you can meet with clients and have a workspace where you can get online, make calls, and be productive.
It’s certainly cheaper than renting your own space, and it’s a good way to network with other business professionals who use the office too.
5. Use cheaper phone options
Cell phone bills can be expensive, especially if you’re paying for several lines. While many businesses can’t survive without cell phones, there are ways to keep costs down. For instance, use long distance apps like Viber, which takes away from your data rather than your minutes. If texting costs are adding up, try WhatsApp, an app that enables you to text for free for the first year, after which it costs $1 a year.
Do you have an out-of-the-box way to save your business money? Share it with other like-minded entrepreneurs in the comment section below.