Benjamin Franklin said it best: “Waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality, nothing will do, and with them everything.” What better motto for a small business owner to follow, especially during a recessionary period. This blog is based a previous post from a number of years ago, and presents 10 ways to avoid wasting your time and money.
1. Advertise through social media
You can do free or low-cost promotions through Facebook and other social media sites instead of spending considerable dollars on traditional media (print, radio, and TV). Use favorable customer reviews to help your promote your business. If you have room in your advertising budget, consider spending it on experts to help you with promotion, such as PR agents, or IT experts who can help you garner 5-star reviews from your customer list for your Google business listing.
2. Buy used/recycled equipment
You don’t need a new file cabinet to warehouse your papers that can’t be scanned for archival purposes; a used file cabinet will do just fine. Pre-owned vehicles, shelves, restaurant supplies, and more may be perfectly adequate and considerably less costly than new items. You may be able to buy recycled electronic items (copiers, printers) for less than half the cost of new items. Of course, weigh the energy savings that new items may offer versus the cost savings for the price of pre-owned items. Check Craig’s list or do a Google search for the used items you’re seeking. Also, the General Services Administration frequently has surplus property that it makes available for sale at fair market value (GSA cautions you won’t get a $100 yacht or exotic car) and there are no guarantees on condition.
3. Don’t overstock supplies
With rising prices during an inflationary period, there’s impetus to buy now before there are price hikes. But if you have to buy a new printer or copier, the ink and toner you’ve stocked up on for the old model may be useless. The lesson: Don’t have more supplies on hand than you need. Today it’s easy to obtain needed office supplies overnight or even the same day through Amazon, Staples, and other suppliers without leaving your office.
4. Eliminate interest payments
Don’t charge more on your credit card than you can afford to pay off in full. Sticking to your budget means you won’t pay any interest charges, which have or will rise as the Fed continues to raise its rates. If you have to go over budget from time to time, make sure you have a low-cost business credit card to minimize interest charges. Find one suitable for your business needs through NerdWallet, BankRate, and WalletHub.
5. Optimize mobile options
Run your business better with apps for mobile devices. There are many free apps, for example, that let you do things on the fly, such as checking your bank balance, post expenses, and stay in contact with customers. Even if you have to pay for apps, they may save you money in the long run. For example, IDrive is a cloud storage app that costs $3.98/year and protects your data if disaster strikes. Techradar pro lists the best small business apps for 2022.
6. Outsource needed work
A down economy may not be the best time to add people to your payroll, but still, you may have work projects that need to get done. Instead of hiring new employees, use independent contractors or temporary workers (who are employees of their agencies). Here you’ll pay a flat fee with no responsibilities for taxes, benefits, insurance, or anything else. For independent contractors, just make sure that the arrangement is really an independent contractor arrangement and not an employer-employee arrangement. Find information about worker classification from the IRS for tax purposes and the DOL for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (minimum wage and overtime rules). Also check state law because some, such as California, use an ABC test to determine worker status for purposes of wage and hour rules.
7. Reduce insurance premiums
Insurance is vital to every business…for health coverage, liability protection, property damage, business interruption, and more. Be sure to have all the types of coverage needed for your situation. But you can reduce premiums by shopping around, increasing deductibles, and eliminating unneeded extras that policies may offer. If you have a retail/restaurant establishment, you may be able to add glass coverage to your business owner policy (BOP) for little or no cost…but you have to ask.
8. Save on taxes
Don’t pay a penny more than the law requires. Take advantage of all deductions, credits, and exclusions to which you are entitled. Some small business owners working from home do not take a home office deduction for fear that it’s an audit red flag. There is no proof of this, so if you meet eligibility requirements for the home office deduction, take it! My revised book for 2022 taxes, J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes 2023, will be available December 1st and can be pre-ordered from Amazon now.
9. Turn off the lights
Don’t waste electricity by running office lights and other equipment when no one is around. Put lights and devices on timers. Use “energy saver” equipment that automatically sleeps when not in use.
10. Use down time
When you wait in line—at the post office, bank, or elsewhere—you can use your time productively to check email, listening to an instructive podcast, or do other tasks on your mobile device. DO NOT CHECK YOUR MAIL OR TEXT MESSAGES WHILE DRIVING.
Do you have other ideas for saving time and money? Please share them with me and I’ll post them (with credit to you). Email them to barbara @ bigideasforsmallbusiness [dot] com. Thanks.