by Jessica Oaks
If the recent news out of Washington, D.C. has taught us anything, it’s that staying under budget is essential. It’s natural for businesses, especially small businesses, to constantly seek ways to reduce costs in order to be profitable. It takes a combination of dedication and innovation to cut the fat and stay afloat in today’s economy.
If you own a company, or are thinking about starting one, take a look at five unique ways your small business can save money:
1. Reconsider your advertising strategies.
Spend money to make money, right? Well, not exactly. You may not have to spend as much as you think on advertising avenues. Think outside the box!
For example, put your satisfied customers to work for you by asking them to refer you to their circle of influence or contacts who may need your business. Or, ask them to write an online review on your Yelp or Google Local page. Since they already enjoy your products or services, it should be natural for them to earnestly endorse your company.
Another great way to stay within your advertising budget, if you advertise on television, is to explore options through your local stations. Off-hour time slots may be available at a cheaper rate; and while you won’t reach as many potential consumers as you would during prime-time, you’re still connecting with a captive audience.
2. Institute a BYOD policy.
A BYOD (bring your own device) policy is a win-win situation for employers and employees. Employers don’t have to purchase computers or phones for all of their employees, and employees can use the devices that they know best, without having to learn other platforms. Depending on your company’s policy, approved BYOD devices can include laptops, tablets and smartphones.
3. Be smart about utilities.
Massive utility bills can take a chunk out of your budget and affect your bottom line. Re-think the way you use your utilities. A simple way to cut down on your electric bill is to install sensors on light switches so the lights are only on when you or your employees are in the room.
Also, shop around for the best Internet providers; if you find a new customer promotion with another company, ask your current provider to price-match it.
Or, one of the best ways to lower your utility bill is to let your employees work from home one day a week — this will make a dent in your overhead expenses of running the office.
4. Make the Internet work for you.
A robust company web presence is a necessity. But have you thought of other ways to reach potential customers? One creative way to connect with people who may need your products and services is through other websites, specifically forums or online discussion groups that are related to your industry.
Join a message board and observe the topics that get people interacting. Then, once you get a feel for your audience, join the conversation! Weight in on hot topics with your advice or recommendations, and leave a simple link to your website in your signature.
Try to avoid blatant self-promotion — subtly positioning yourself as an authority will earn people’s trust and make it easier to build up potential leads and customers.
5. Nix the paper trail.
A paper-free system is advantageous for a few reasons. Not only do you save on the cost of the actual paper, you can save on the manhours it takes to hunt down a particular document or file. Electronic documents and files are much easier to organize and find. Depending on your security settings, any member of your team can quickly and easily access a document from the comfort of their own office (as opposed to a manhunt that cuts into productivity and patience!).
Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves covering technology news and the ways that technology can make life easier. Follow her on Twitter @TechyJessy.