Here’s the thing about starting a business: there’s no shortage of ideas on what to build. Makers, creatives, service providers - we all have something to offer to the world and methods by which we want to share it. But when it comes to paying for it, that can be another story, especially if your business isn’t profitable enough to sustain itself in the beginning. So what do you do? First, you reduce the costs of running the company. Want some help? I’ve listed seven ways to do so below.
REDUCE OFFICE OVERHEAD COSTS Do you need a separate space to run your business? Consider downsizing your retail location, converting to a home-based business or exploring a coworking location. Some may even offer ad-hoc or day pass options to prevent you from signing up for a lengthy and/or expensive lease.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE RESOURCES One of the things I regularly recommend is that folks cut back on paid software. There are so many available tools that you may need to perform a technology audit to see if you’re actually using what you’re paying for. Free options like GSuite, Google Business, Asana, Airtable are regularly used in Little Fish processes, and keep available funds open for other services we want to pay for.
GO PAPERLESS - REDUCE PRINTING COSTS How much do you need to print, really? Take advantage of cloud accounting for storage and electronic signature apps to allow clients to sign without paper. Can you provide documents via a pdf rather than mailing? Think through what makes sense for your business, and the options available to cut down on printing costs.
BARTER SERVICES We all have something to offer, so consider how your expertise can be used to gain access to other services that you might need. Make sure that what you are offering and what you are receiving are comparable, and that an appropriate timeline is established to make sure both sides are being served, but don’t be afraid to consider this as an option for things you might not otherwise be able to afford.
LOW COST TRAINING I believe in the importance of paying experts for their expertise, but sometimes YouTube University can provide some free learning :) Need more structure? Check out organizations in your area that cater to your field or needs; many local establishments offer free or low-cost training virtually and in-person to help you get better acquainted with professional services, like bookkeeping and social media. The training won’t replace a person who does this for a living, but can at least give you some foundational steps to start with.
CUT ADVERTISING COSTS To get clients, people have to know your business exists, but that doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. Start with building an online presence by creating a website and/or creating social media pages to share business news (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn). Create an email newsletter to keep current and potential clients in the loop as to your offerings. And never forget the effectiveness of asking for referrals and carrying business cards, all inexpensive ways to increase your marketing profile.
MINIMIZE TAX BILL BY MAXIMIZING DEDUCTIONS You’ve got to spend money to make money, and if those costs are reasonable and necessary to your business, there’s a good chance you can deduct them on your tax return. The best way to have them ready when the time comes is to track your income and expenses throughout the year, and categorize them appropriately, either via a simple spreadsheet or a more efficient cloud accounting system, like QuickBooks.