If you’re not using these tools, your costs may be too high….
Smart phones and cloud computing have made operating a small business cheaper than ever, but there are still plenty of costs to consider. Here are a few innovations that can really cut your costs if you’re still using traditional methods.
Streamline internal communications
If you do a lot of business over the phone, it’s easy to rack up a sizable bill on your landline; and it’s even worse if you have telecommuters or off-site sales reps calling in regularly with reports and questions. Get Skype Mobile or another VoIP service for your employees’ phones, and you’ll never have to pay for another internal call. Whenever possible, encourage clients, partners, and suppliers to use VoIP as well.
Think carefully about how you bill customers
Square revolutionized small business with its credit card reader app, stealing significant market share from PayPal (which had been basically the only game in town)—but PayPal has responded quickly to the competition with its own card reader, PayPal Here.
If you’re using Square to manage face-to-face transactions, consider switching back—they’ve dropped their transaction fee to just under Square’s (2.7% versus 2.75%), there’s no longer a monthly fee, and unlike Square, you can cash checks using your phone’s camera. Obviously, if you’re still using an expensive stand-alone credit card reader, or just taking cash or checks, look into either one of these options.
Buy used equipment whenever possible
This is especially important for electronics. While young small businesses tend to be very image-conscious, and want their office to look very slick and up-to-date, laptops and cell phones are a lot like cars—they take a big depreciation hit as soon as you fire them up for the first time. Unless you’re doing heavy graphics work, T-Mobile used cell phones and laptops built in 2008 should be just as capable of performing your basic office tasks as the brand new options, so don’t be afraid to look for fire sales where you can score a lot of used equipment in good condition.
Having a repair service you trust is a big part of making this strategy work—basic repairs and upgrades are a lot cheaper than new stuff, so even when your computers start to lag under your workload, see if installing some extra RAM or an external hard drive is enough to fix the problem.
Move more transactions online
Whether it’s sending invoices, customer service, advertisement, ordering supplies, or handling payroll, paper is a surprisingly costly luxury for small businesses. Set up direct deposit with your employees, and work through your suppliers’ websites whenever possible. Handle as many complaints and comments as possible via email to keep your phone bill low.
If you have rented office space, you might be surprised to realize that a large chunk of your electric bill is an entirely avoidable expense. When computers are left on overnight, even if they’re in a power-saving mode, they’re wasting a tremendous amount of energy. Even computers that are shut down are a source of “vampire load”—draining energy simply because they’re plugged into a live outlet. It’s probably too much hassle to unplug every individual desktop, lamp, and display in your office, so to combat this problem, buy a handful of surge protectors (they’re cheap) and plug all your office equipment into them.
Then, at the end of the day, have your staff shut down the equipment, and then just unplug the surge protectors. It’s a habit that can slash your electric bill.
About the Author:
Julia Peterson is a writer for AndGeeks.com, a popular website that provides up-to-date news, detailed commentary, and unbiased reviews on cell phones and related topics. Julia resides in Galveston, Texas in a cozy little house in the country with her husband, young son, and their Labrador retriever, Darby.