In this economic environment, everyone is looking for resourceful ways to decrease spending and save money. This is especially true for small business owners, as they look to reduce expenses, take advantage of discounts, increase cash flow and in turn, improve their business's bottom line.
Here are several resourceful and creative ways that small business owners can save money as they navigate today's economy.
While bartering may sound a little old fashioned, it's a great way to work out deals between businesses and save cash. For example, if you are a paper supply company, barter to provide a printing company with all their paper needs in return for free copies. If you are a graphic designer looking for an accountant, offer your creative design expertise in return for sound financial advice. Through bartering, you can work out deals that are beneficial to you and the businesses you partner with. In addition, be proactive in your efforts to enhance existing business relationships in terms of operating expenses, etc. In tough times, many companies are willing to work out deals to retain your business.
Take advantage of programs designed to help you save money on everyday business necessities, such as office supplies and computers. Bank of America recently launched an online shopping portal called Add It Up where small business owners can earn up to 20 percent cash back from more than 270 retailers when they shop online with their Bank of America check card. Participating retailers include top names such as Staples.com, HomeDepot.com, Walmart.com, and Costco.com, where small business customers spent the most money in 2008.
"Small business owners make frequent purchases from these retailers as they manage their day-to-day business needs," says John Durrant, Bank of America Small Business Strategy Executive. "By shopping online through the Add It Up portal, small business owners can potentially save over $1,000 a year -- that's a savings of more than $80 a month, which could equal the money you spend on gas to visit clients, or monthly shipping expenses."
- Â Evaluate Expenses
Take this time to reevaluate all of the annual service contracts that your business currently has in place. You may no longer need the comprehensive and often costly full-service phone plan because you use your cell phone to make most business calls. You may also consider getting rid of your traditional fax machine and utilize free online faxing Web sites in its place. Other items to evaluate include changing over traditional, printed company newsletters and mailings to paperless communications, as this can reduce your yearly business expenses for paper, ink, and printing. Savings that seem small in the short term can help make your company profitable in the long run.
Through networking, small business owners can learn how their peers and fellow entrepreneurs in the local business community are navigating their business through the current economy. Many online networking sites, like Bank of America's Small Business Online Community, are free to join, provide expert content and the opportunity for small business owners to get immediate feedback. To get some offline face time with colleagues and peers, find out if your local chamber of commerce hosts networking events that you can attend to meet small business owners in your area. Tapping into the experience of your small business peers is a great way to gain additional savings tips.
Advertising is a good investment for business dollars, but keep in mind that you don't always have to spend big bucks to conduct a successful advertising campaign. Consider advertising through an e-newsletter or a series of e-mail marketing campaigns. These online techniques are usually less expensive and allow you to target specific customers. If you want to continue with direct mail, be sure to cull down your mailing list and eliminate any customers you haven't heard from in a while. Or, consider slipping advertising materials and coupons into items you are already mailing out, such as invoices.
In this current economic environment, eliminating any business travel that isn't absolutely necessary can save small business owners a great deal of money. In place of traveling to see customers and clients, plan weekly meetings using free Web or phone conferencing applications. If you must take a business trip, try to plan ahead and do your homework. A little researching for a less expensive flight or hotel can go a long way and save big money.
For more information about Bank of America's Add It Up online shopping portal, visit www.bankofamerica.com/additup. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC (c) 2009 Bank of America Corporation
--Courtesy of ARAcontent