Small business owners can have a rough time. They’re often in direct competition with large multinational corporations, and keeping a business in the black without a parent company or large cash reserves when times are tough can be a daunting prospect. A small business needs to be efficient in the way that it delivers its product or services, as a small business can often live or die based on its reputation. They also need to be efficient with their own operating costs: to keep costs to a minimum without sacrificing quality, which can be a difficult balancing act. Perhaps you’re considering starting a small business or you currently operate one? Let’s look at 4 innovative ways to keep your costs down.
1. Paper Is The Past
Many larger corporations make a big deal about how they want their offices to be paperless wherever possible, so that Mother Nature can get a helping hand. While the environmental benefits of having a largely paperless office, the key benefits for large and small businesses are financial. Electronic filing systems already exist on all modern computers, and businesses need to take advantage of them. Few documents need to be printed out these days, and many banks now have an electronic pad for capturing signatures, so that even contracts don’t have to exist as a printed document. Have a look at what is actually printed in your office, and then think about whether it’s necessary. Tablet computers also make many documents obsolete, even lengthy manuals and instructional materials.
This is perhaps a grey area, as many small business owners may not want to send work offshore. But when the savings are considered, outsourcing becomes a rather attractive option. Not all work can be outsourced, but a lot of IT work and general data processing can be. Freelancing websites such as oDesk and eLance allow you to post jobs for a fixed wage (and you can browse comparable postings to see what is considered a normal wage) or allow freelance contractors to bid for advertised jobs. There are a number of quality control measures in place, and depending on what type of work is required, you can request bids only from contractors who have passed proficiency tests in the relevant field. Established contractors on these sites also have a star rating, based upon reports from their previous clients, meaning you can have the best of the bunch.
3. The Look Of The Office
If you’re working alone from a home office, then your set-up and operating costs are almost non-existent: you could work at the kitchen table in your pajamas if you wanted. However, if you need an actual office, then you’ll need to spend some money on setting up your workspace. With the global domination of companies like IKEA, you can easily buy a selection of trendy, functional office furniture at a very low price. You can also browse vintage/antique stores for more unique items for the office, if you want to avoid that production line look.
4. Share Your Working Space
There’s an increasing popularity in Co-Working workspaces in many cities around the world. With the number of IT start ups in Berlin; the city is one of the leaders in Co-Working, as many companies have found it to be an efficient way of acquiring a modern, fully stocked office space at a low price. While it’s not practical for larger groups of people, if you have a small team you can rent a series of desks in a dedicated workspace, and pay a monthly rental space that includes the desk and all internet and printing costs (and often coffee too). Remember that you’ll be sharing the room with a number of other workers, but this isn’t an issue since most Co-Working workspaces have dedicated meeting rooms available for use. Co-Working spaces are essentially office buildings that host dozens of different operations.
Running a small business can be a challenging, yet rewarding experience. Most small business owners are following their dream, and that can be a major reward in itself. Of course, keeping your costs down is a great way to keep the dream alive.
This is a guest-post by Ashley Williamson. Ashley is an occasional blogger currently writing for Banner4Sale a company which offers green and affordable outdoor banner printing.