Why do so many small businesses fail?
It’s a good question — for small business owners, an existential one. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. Businesses succeed or fail for myriad combinations of reasons, some difficult or impossible to quantify. (“Luck” is a real thing.)
You can do a lot to give your business an edge, but don’t forget the fundamentals: cost control. These six tactics can stretch your business budget a whole lot farther than you might think, without compromising its core processes, product quality, or customer acquisition and retention. Have you tried any already?
Sort Your “Needs” From Your “Wants”
You might remember this exercise from elementary school. The stakes are higher, but the aim remains the same: to separate the things your business absolutely can’t do without from the things that can be put off until fatter times arrive.
You know your company’s own needs and wants better than anyone. The tough part is applying a disinterested eye: knowing that a particular something you’ve been hankering after actually isn’t mission-critical.
Get a Rewards Credit Card
You can’t shrink your company’s expenses down to zero, of course. For the purchases you can’t avoid making, get a rewards credit card that pays you back for every eligible dollar you spend. Seek out rewards credit card options that favor general spending or spending in broad categories, such as travel or office supplies. Evaluate your budget and select the product that best matches your spending habits.
Travel Less, Teleconference More
Why travel when you can teleconference? Sure, business travel is fun, but it takes up valuable productive time (unless you exclusively take red-eyes — which, yuck) and costs a pretty penny. When business objectives don’t absolutely require you to be physically present, don’t be. Instead, use a teleconferencing solution that’s almost as good as the real thing.
Join the BYOD Revolution
In case you haven’t noticed, the bring your own device (BYOD) revolution is in full swing. While companies, nonprofits, and government organizations held to higher standards of information custody and security may be exempt, most firms not bound by strict security protocols find it cheaper and easier for employees to use their personal devices at work.
The BYOD regime isn’t perfect — you can probably imagine the logistical downsides of having a slew of different OS versions and apps circulating through your technosphere. But it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to provide a flat technology allowance and let the chips (or bits) fall where they may.
Hire Slow, Fire Fast
Don’t advertise for a position until you’re sure you’ll actually need it filled — and that a nimble contractor can’t do the same job for half as much as a full-time, benefits-eligible team member. By the same token, don’t wait too long for failing employees to improve. They’ve made their beds.
Financial auditing is one expense not to skimp on: it’s literally an investment in a leaner, sounder company (and a great way to catch bad apples before they cause too much damage). Subject your expense accounts and department budgets to regular audits that grow more sophisticated as your company expands.
More Ways to Slim
These six budget-slimming strategies are just the tip of the cost-cutting iceberg. Plenty more generalized cost-cutting tips are out there, as a quick Google search will attest. But it’s likely the sixth tip on this list — “audit everything” — that will bear the most fruit over the long haul. Why not begin today and let a thousand cost-cutting ideas bloom?