By Rieva Lesonsky
You probably got pretty good at cutting costs during the recession, but now that business has picked up, are you back to your free-spending ways? If you’re considering applying for a small business loan in the future, now is a good time to take a look at your business’s bottom line and consider making some strategic money moves to get (and keep) yourself in the black. Here are 5 tips:
- Go green: If you can make some small eco-friendly changes, you’ll not only save money, but you’ll be doing the environment a favor, too. Change all the light bulbs in your business to energy efficient ones. Then do the same with your energy-guzzling break-room refrigerator. Do you supply employees with bottled water? Tap water in most cities is just as clean and it’s free. Provide re-usable cups or ask employees to bring their own. Initiate a policy to cut down on the printing of documents or emails; instead, have employees scan and store digital copies of everything. Even the simple act of reminding everyone to turn off computers and monitors when not in use will save you money on your next energy bill. Have your power company come in for an energy audit to offer you more ideas.
- Offer employees telecommuting. One way to cut back on energy costs (as well as the costs of office space) is to have some or all of your employees work from home. You can offer the choice to telecommute a few days a week or full time, depending on your employees’ roles. Your employees will appreciate the perk of telecommuting, and you’ll save money by not having to have them in the office 40 hours a week. If employees can telecommute full time, you may even be able to move to a smaller space or sublet part of your existing space to another business. (Check with your landlord first.)
- Charitable contributions. Have you considered giving more to charities to increase your tax deductions? You can set up a monthly donation with many charities, so the same amount is automatically charged to your company credit card. As far as asset donations, in the rare case you have assets that have maintained value or appreciated in value, you can donate the item to a charity and take the write-off. In the more likely case that the item has depreciated in value, you can sell the item, donate the proceeds to charity and then write off the difference.
- Move your data to the cloud. You can save money on your IT costs by moving your data to the cloud. This eliminates the need to purchase and maintain your own servers and storage. (Bonus: It can also make you more productive since you can access your files anywhere, anytime.)
- Ask for discounts. Do you know if any of your vendors offer a lower cost or discount in certain cases? For example, can you get a lower price if you pay in cash, pay early or buy in bulk?It never hurts to ask! Also check into discounts that may be offered as a benefit of membership in industry or trade associations.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.