So you’ve decided to start your own business, and you’ve come to realize the thing that most new business owners experience at some point or another: starting a business is costly. Whether you felt somewhat prepared for this, or you’ve been blindsided by unexpected costs, it’s easy to feel like you might drown rather than stay afloat.
Luckily, savvy business owners everywhere, from those in the corporate world to smaller businesses, have shared tips and tricks to help their counterparts save money while still growing their business or brand. You can achieve success while sticking to a budget. It’s just a matter of knowing where to cut corners and when to spend a little extra.
Below are a few ways to save money where it counts, so you can continue to put something in the coffers.
Hiring Freelance and Independent Contractors
Many small business owners make the mistake of hiring a team right off the bat. While there’s nothing wrong with creating a few jobs, or bringing those you trust into the fold, don’t make the mistake of hiring too many employees that you can’t afford. Make sure you only hire for the work that is needed. If there are a lot of “off” hours involved, and only minimal support needed at first, which is often the case for a startup or new business, why not hire a freelance employee or independent contractor to work part-time for you? Often these people can even work remotely, and they’ll save you money because they aren’t punching a time clock and spending the better part of an eight-hour work day sitting around without tasks. Only hire for the jobs that you need doing, and hold off on hiring full time employees until both your demand and budget can accommodate them.
Renting out Spaces
Another mistake small business owners make sometimes is renting out or buying an office space or storefront too soon. Unless you’re absolutely certain that you’re going to have success right out of the gate, or if you’re in an industry that requires a storefront, you probably don’t know one right away. Many entrepreneurs start out working from their basement, or renting one room in a warehouse or office setting, then work their way up to their own space.
Another trend right now is renting out office spaces or boardrooms for things like meetings and events by the hour. Companies like Bond Collective private offices can provide you with a quiet, secluded office space for you and your team, where you can hold meetings, get important work done, and whatever else you might need. Often these rented offices provide you with amenities like printing services and parking, and come fully furnished and functional, saving you those expenses. This saves you the trouble and cost of having to rent an office or storefront for yourself, so you can save money for a while. Then, as your business grows, you can expand out to get your own location.
Bartering and Networking
If you’re a local business owner, you should definitely take the time to scope out other local businesses – both those in similar fields and ones that are quite different. When applicable, it can really pay to befriend local business people. It will behoove you both to have a mutual business friendship, and you might even be able to barter for goods, services, and products to help save the both of you money. For instance, if you own a local brewery, and you’ve made friends with the owner of a local t-shirt printshop, well – why not trade them a case of your latest IPA, or let them use your space for an office party, in exchange for some custom t-shirts? If you’re a local chocolatier, and your friend owns a bar in town, why not team up for a ladies’ night with a custom, local, exclusive chocolate martini?
There’s also the possibility for joint ventures, cross promotions and marketing, and even things like hosting joint events and carpooling. Befriending someone who is also frontong a small local business will set you up for a lifelong professional friendship and double the word of mouth for both of you. It’s a win-win.
Additionally, you may also find an African private equity firm or one in your country to get funded. It is also a good way to acquire investors in your network, especially when you have already proven yourself as an entrepreneur.
Eco-Friendly and Recycling
You might not think, at face value, that going eco-friendly and taking steps to be environmentally sound in your business would save you money, but it can, and it will.
For starters, many, many companies including utility companies and more, will offer you deep discounts and incentives to “go paperless”, or “go green”, eschwing paper bills in the mail for email statements or a downloadable app. You can save tons of money on your monthly bills by doing this. Using economically sound ink will save you money in the long run, since you don’t have to buy it as often. Reduce the footprint of your customers too, by offering them email or text receipts instead of paper, reducing the amount of plastics and non-recyclable materials you use in your package (if you sell a product), and cutting down on the use of plastic bags. It’ll save you money, too, because you’re not having to buy those extra items.
It’s always a good investment to have a business account at discount bulk outlets like Sam’s Club and/or CostCo. These places save you tons of money on things like paper supplies, coffee/tea, office supplies, and more. Best of all, many places offer deeper discounts for businesses, so you’ll save even more.
Group memberships for things like the YMCA, if you’re a team of gym-goers, or starting an account at the local coffeeshop or diner can save you and your staff lots of money on things that you do every day.
Utilizing little tricks like this can save your startup lots of money, while you’re still in that beginning stage of crunching numbers and trying to save. Getting through the first year of business is a tricky thing, but you can do it if you have a good head on your shoulders.