Running a business always comes with financial risk. Typically, these risks decrease as your business becomes more established and starts to grow. In normal life, the most significant risks your business will face come in the first two years. Statistically speaking, if you survive the first two years, and manage to make a profit, you are more likely to achieve long term success.
However, all of the statistics got thrown up in the air when COVID-19 hit. Suddenly even well-established and previously successful businesses are struggling to keep going. All over the world, we’re seeing big brands and companies fold, unable to return after they were shut down to prevent the spread of the virus.
Companies all over are laying staff off, permanently closing their doors, or having to make serious changes to how they do business to save enough money to survive the year.
If you own a business, this can be a frightening time. You are probably used to trying to make cutbacks and changes to manage a slow period, but this is different. The effects of coronavirus on the economy are bound to be long term, and we should be prepared to see both small businesses and larger brands suffer in the coming months or even years.
Here’s a look at 21 simple things that you could do to save a little cash.
1. Ditch the Office
During the lockdown, many of us have been working from home for the first time. During this period, it has been essential. But, many businesses are seeing positives, including a more productive workforce, extra flexibility, and happier staff.
Another benefit of remote working is the money-saving possibilities. If your whole workforce could work remotely, would you need an office at all? Could you manage with an occasional co-working space instead?
Even if you do still need an office, remote working could let you downsize, or at least save money on office equipment and supplies as well as utilities and break room snacks.
2. Switch Utility Providers
We switch utilities at home to save money, but we rarely do the same at work. You don’t owe your providers anything, and you are free to switch to save money at any time.
Look at switching gas, electric and your phone and internet providers, and consider downgrading contracts if you are currently paying for more than you need to.
3. Negotiate with Suppliers
The same goes for your suppliers. You may have loyalty to some, that have served you well for a long time, and that’s fine. Building relationships with suppliers and other businesses is exceptionally important.
But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t negotiate or even haggle. Don’t be pushy, but remember, you won’t ever get what you don’t ask for.
4. Watch Fuel Usage
If your business has vehicles, whether a whole fleet or a company car or two, they are another expense.
If they are crucial to your business, find ways to save. Click here to find out about a fuel payment card to help you to monitor and reduce the costs of fuel, and try to build a relationship with a local garage, instead of using a large chain, to save money on services and repairs.
5. Make the Most of Free Advertising
Marketing is essential, but it can also be expensive. You certainly shouldn’t stop marketing your business when things are slow. If anything, you should be trying to find new ways to expand your audience or to advertise new offers and deals.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to spend large amounts of money. Social media and other digital campaigns can be completely free, and adding a blog to your business website can be a great way to increase traffic and drive sales.
6. Utilize What You’ve Already Paid For
Another way to save on advertising is to piggyback on to what you are already paying for. If you are sending letters, add some information about your latest deals. Try to add marketing to every communication.
7. Get To Know Other Local Businesses
If all local businesses supported each other, more would do well. Make your business part of your community. Get to know other business owners, team up on marketing campaigns, share your audience, meetup to discuss ideas and share resources and information as much as possible. It can save you money but also give you ways to make more in the future.
8. Ask for Help
Don’t be scared to ask for help. If your business is in trouble, rope in friends and family, call in favors, beg, borrow, whatever it takes. Don’t let your pride get in the way. Just remember you may need to offer some favors up yourself too!
9. Keep Your Customers Happy
Happy customers keep coming back. They bring their friends, and they stick with your business through the tough times.
Happy customers will also spread the word. Offer excellent service, or go above and beyond, and they will tell other people. They’ll talk about your business and bring new customers in. Happy customers mean that you can get away with spending less on marketing.
10. Do More Market Research
Market research can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Make the most of analytics that you’ve already got set up to learn more about your audience. Send feedback forms and ask for reviews.
This helps you to focus your efforts in the right places, making sure you don’t waste your time or your money.
11. Create a Home Business
Ask yourself if you could run your business from home, even if just in the short-term? If you’ve been doing so for the last few months, could you make it more permanent?
12. Stop Printing
Printing might not be a huge cost, but ink and paper are an expense. Nowadays, most things can be saved to the cloud, and still shared between team members. As long as you keep important documents in a secure folder, and can print them if you ever need to, you rarely need to print.
13. Use Free Software
There is so much free software available nowadays. There are also free online tools. Most have paid options, but you may find that the free version will do. Try free photo editing programs, free online graphics applications, such as canva, free email service providers and free social media scheduling tools.
If there is a free version and a paid version, always try the free version first.
14. Buy Second Hand
If your business needs new machinery or equipment, don’t just buy new. Instead, look for second hand options first. Many small businesses fail and sell off their equipment, sometimes at auction. It can be a great way to make savings. Just make sure you find quality so that you don’t end up spending more on repairs.
15. Don’t Neglect Insurance
You might be tempted to avoid renewing your insurance policy, or to leave updating it if your business has changed. Insurance can be expensive, and you might be reluctant to spend so much on something that you are hoping not to need.
This can be a mistake and a costly one at that. Keep your insurance policies up to date, just in case you ever need them.
16. Claim Those Deductibles
Tax is a significant expense for most businesses and many smaller companies and sole-traders are paying more than they need to because they don’t deduct everything that they could. Learn more about what you can claim and find ways to reduce your tax bill.
17. Share Your Workspace
If you’ve decided that you don’t need your whole office space, but you are tied into a lease, ask about subletting. Could you hire a part of your office, or even individual desks out to earn some extra money or reduce your own rent?
18. Make the Most of Freelancers
Permanent staff and in-house specialists are great. But, they are expensive, especially when you have to pay them even when you aren’t taking too much money. Freelancers and other outsourcing options can reduce long-term costs, while still giving you access to experts.
19. Clean Up Your Mailing List
Whether you send emails or old-fashioned letters, you may pay per recipient. This can get costly.
Go through your mailing list and prune it, making sure you are only spending money reaching the people that want to hear from you.
20. Move Your Debts
If your business has debts, the interest or repayments may be costing you money. Look at shifting debts to a lower interest account to save money.
21. Never Buy the First Thing You See
Never buy the first product, sign a contract with the first supplier or the first provider that you see. Always take the time to look around for a better deal first.
Of course, saving a business takes more than a few small changes. But, that doesn’t mean that they should be underestimated. Every little helps, and it all adds up. Take some time to access your expenditure, and ask yourself if any of these changes could be beneficial.