Sometimes the best way to grow your small business is to save money on the things that don’t matter to invest them in those things that do.
I recently offered our readers some suggestions on How to Save Money on Web Hosting fees. Today, let’s look at some other ways for small business owners to save money and to give themselves a little more time to enjoy life.
In addition to the best, virus-free email option, access from anywhere and the bonus of their office suite — G-Suite provides us with enough cloud storage, at a reasonable price. Seriously, we “cloud” everything. The security that Google offers puts our minds at ease. Our account has unlimited storage and it costs us $10 a month. Get one for yourself!
I can’t tell you how much we NEED unlimited storage. Suffice to say, between Steve and me, we probably use more data storage space than all of our clients — added together — and multiplied by, well, 20 or so. Maybe more.
Do you really need all the office space you currently have? We didn’t. In 2015 we changed the focus of our business, by design, to be better suited to the personal and professional goals we had.
In May of last year we moved from a 4000 sq ft freestanding building to our Bell Tower Studio, which is less than 300 sq ft! Most of our records are digitized, so we don’t need a great deal of records storage.
We don’t need to keep inventory anymore, so our need for storage space of that type is gone. We are focusing on web design and marketing. Our tools for this don’t take a great deal of space. They are high-tech, but low profile and technology gets smaller every day — except for monitors. My monitor gets BIGGER every year. 😉
We may not need a great deal of space to work happily and efficiently, but we do need peace and quiet — something that was not available in the old location. This move was quite an adjustment, but it’s been a good thing. We have set up a home office, which reduces some the time and expense of commuting some days. It also saves us money with the home office deduction at the end of the year.
By making these changes, we seriously slashed our expenses, while adding a bit of of the “cool” factor that only old architecture and a place with history can provide.
We love the quiet, creative time afforded us in the tower. It suits us. It did, however, take a bit of an adjustment to shrink our space so dramatically. Having a space that is smaller and tweaking the way we work has cut our overhead for rent and utilities by over 75%, while upgrading the quality of our studio space.
This year we evaluated all the professional, local and online memberships we have been renewing every year and did a real “did this benefit us more than it cost us?” analysis on each and every one. The ones that didn’t benefit us, or that were no longer in alignment with our personal and professional goals, got the axe.
That saved us well over $1000 a year in one swoop! We still retain the memberships and subscriptions that are valuable and beneficial, and we find that we enjoy those that remain more and feel less stressed from being stretched too thin.
Yes, I’ve even found a way to save money on our water cooler! We had been paying the local water delivery company $13 a month to rent a hot and ice water cooler — in addition to their charge for water.
Getting the water cooler was the first step to saving money (and our health) by replacing sodas with water. We didn’t want to add a refrigerator to our studio and I’ll drink cold water over a hot soda any day.
Sodas gone? Check! The next step was to eliminate the cooler rental. We will still have water delivered, but we won’t need to rent a cooler/heater unit anymore.
Why? Because I found a unit for sale locally for $10, when another business closed its doors and sold off some equipment. It works beautifully (quite a find!) and the full cost was less than one month’s rent.
I’ve been an advocate of LivingSmall for many years, but now I’m looking for ways to work better and to be more focused while at work. By having fewer tools and “accessories,” but insisting on the highest possible quality, the end product is better. From our studio space to the type of computers we use — I evaluate it all for quality over quantity. By doing this, we replace items less frequently. We can do more, faster and more efficiently. And the frustration level of work goes down when the tools you use are the best.
Keeping fewer tools on hand also reduces maintenance. The more you have, the more you have to care for in the office. The less “stuff” you have the more time you can devote to work and the more creative and focused you become.
Buy the best office chair you can afford, your backside will thank you. Buy the tools that make your job easier — whether that’s a laptop (like me) or the highest quality engraving knives (if that’s your thing) or the best hand-tools or the nicest briefcase. You know the tools you need. Own the best — your business depends on it.
I elected to have one amazing, powerful laptop rather than two desktop computers (one for each office). I use my laptop with an external keyboard and mouse because I can type faster with a standard keyboard and I’ll take a mouse over a touch-pad any day. I have a wireless keyboard and mouse at each location so I have to transport less.
At the home office, I have a huge monitor. After all, that’s where I crank out most of my heavy-lifting work. I hook up the laptop to use the larger screen and the keyboard and mouse. It’s like using a desktop. I try to reserve my time in the studio for working on joint projects where Steve and I need the time “side by side” to work on the larger coordinated projects. The studio is where we meet with our clients face-to-face.
With the laptop and cloud storage, I have everything I need in the studio, in the home office, on the road, at a client’s office, or anywhere in between. I’ve not missed my desktop once.
Often, trying to save a few dollars in the wrong places will cost you more in time than you save in dollars. As a small business owner, an entrepreneur or a solopreneur, you need to recognize your time for the limited resource it is. Don’t undervalue your time when you are looking for ways to save money.
Don’t cut corners on your mission critical purchases. Buy the best you can afford — and maintain them — and enjoy the luxury! (It’s just a fantastic bonus that doing so usually saves you time and money!)
I just trimmed $60 a month off our Internet bill by calling and asking. Spectrum just took over Time Warner and our bill had continued to climb in recent years. It was astronomical. Seriously. So I called Spectrum and told them that I’d seen lots of “deals” for Internet packages and that I wanted a better price as a long-standing customer.
I not only got a $60 break on the bill every month into the future, they gave us a new modem, waived the monthly modem fee, and gave me a $30 credit on the current month’s bill. Not bad for 30 minutes on the phone. Not bad for taking the time to ask and negotiate.
Our ISP is just one example. You may have other services you are able to negotiate. From utilities to provided services to the interest rates on your business credit card. Think creatively!
(Warning – before going into these types of negotiations, you have to be willing to walk away without the service. You have to be willing to cancel if you don’t get the discounts you are requesting. I was. It worked.)
I don’t mean the grocery-store variety of coupon clipping. In my experience that often takes more time than it saves in money. I go for the bigger benefits.
For instance, it was time to upgrade our QuickBooks program earlier this month. I am not willing or interested in the monthly fee, online version. I wanted a desktop version — and that was the recommendation of our CPA. She knows her stuff, so I trusted her on that one.
But, before ordering the upgrade online, I Googled “QuickBooks 2017 Coupons” and found a coupon code in under a minute that saved me $100 on the purchase. (Even the CPA was impressed!)
I do the same searches when we need to buy anything — from domain names to printer paper. I comparison shop — but quickly — to save money. The more you do it, the better you get at it and the more valuable the skill becomes. As long as you only shop for what you need, and skip the “window shopping” online, you will save money.
These are a few of the areas we explored to improve our bottom line and, more importantly, to increase our enjoyment of our work and our ability to balance professional and personal time.
What are the best tips and tricks you have used to save money and work better?