Whoever said you have to spend money to make money apparently was not trying to manage a business in the midst of a down economy. Luckily, advancements in technology and savvy thinking have created opportunities for business owners to cut costs while operating more efficiently. Here are eight solutions to consider.
1. Be Your Own Publicist – Make a list of magazines, newspapers, weekly tabs, blogs and other media outlets in your area. Find out who is in charge of editing and managing the business section and keep a list of their contact information. Get in touch with them periodically and let them know about your company every step of the way.
2. Outsource Support – If you are not technologically inclined, consider outsourcing your IT support. Some of the benefits to outsourcing include increased efficiency and reduced labor costs. To cut down on energy costs, you should also consider allowing your employees to telecommute instead of acquiring more office space. Telecommuting is a benefit to your employees, as well, as it allows them to save time and money associated with traveling to and from an office.
3. Test The Market – Producing a new product or developing a detailed Web site can cost a lot of money. Always test a new product or service on friends and family to determine if you are ready for production. Create a prototype or sample and let potential buyers look at it, touch it, smell it, and taste it. Get their opinion about the product and find out how much they would be willing to spend on the product to determine a reasonable price point.
4. Mobile Applications – Most small business owners are constantly on the go – meeting with clients, running errands, or making business trips. Chances are, you already have a smart phone. But, are you using it to its full potential to help you operate your day-to-day business more efficiently while you are out of the office. If you haven’t already, find out how to use your phone to take notes, update your calendar, make to do lists, update contacts, edit and send documents, document scanning, and voice over IP.
5. Barter With Suppliers – Join a trade exchange program or contact your suppliers to find out what opportunities are available for you to pay people back with goods and services rather than with interest payments. Trade exchange programs all members to earn trade dollars that they can then use in exchange for goods and services with other businesses in the program.
6. Spend Wisely On Advertising – Advertising in local publications is a great way to reach your target market. But how do you know if your advertising efforts are worthwhile? Big companies can hire entire marketing departments to conduct extensive market research. Small businesses, on the other hand, do not have large marketing budgets. Consider including a coupon with your ads to test the response to your ads.
7. Audit Your Assets – Do you know what you own in fixed assets? If not, you may be paying taxes and insurance premiums on items you no longer own. Set aside an afternoon to track and list all of your items – including furniture, fittings, fixtures, and IT equipment. You may discover that up to 20% of the assets on your books are no longer part of your company.
8. Word-of-mouth Marketing – The bottom line is that when you deliver great service and great products, customers will reward you with the most effective and cheapest marketing tool – word-of-mouth advertising. Word-of-mouth marketing only happens when you give your customers something to tell everyone they know. The best tactic is to start with getting the word out to your friends and family. From there, exceed customers’ expectations, set yourself apart from your competition, deliver a great product and service, and watch as the word spreads and your customer base grows.