10 Ways Your Small Business Can Save Money : Under30CEO 10 Ways Your Small Business Can Save Money : Under30CEO
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10 Ways Your Small Business Can Save Money

| March 21, 2011 | 12 Comments
shoestring budget
Many Under 30 CEO readers are looking to start something big (a company that can scale) with limited resources (money).  We’ve been there.  We started Audio Transcription on a shoestring budget and we learned a lot in the process.  There are the intangible learnings (e.g. that finding, spending and saving early-stage money is all just another obstacle in the path to startup success) and the tangible (the specifics services, tips and tools that exist to help save your young business money).  To help other entrepreneurs, we’ve listed some actionable money-saving tips below.  What did we miss?  Let us know in the comments.
  1. Use WordPress.Org. WordPress.Org is the open source version of WordPress.com.  Though it’s generally referred to as blogging software, the range of ways in which one can use WordPress is far more broad.  The website of my company, Audio Transcription, was built for free using WordPress.Org software.  As for design, we paid about $40 for a theme (because it matched our aesthetic preferences), but there are literally 1000s of free WordPress themes available.  The larger point is that many corporate websites (for startups and larger) can be built entirely for free using WordPress.
  2. Consider using free legal resources like Nolo.com. If you have simple business-related legal questions and can’t afford a lawyer, consider using free online legal resources like Nolo.com.  Nolo has tons of relevant small business articles like “Create Your LLC Operating Agreement” and “Your New LLC,From A to Z.”  While there’s no substitute for a lawyer’s advice, if you’re going to seek business-related legal information online, go straight to a repubtable website like Nolo.com.
  3. Consider LegalZoom.com. In the same vein as Nolo.com, consider LegalZoom.com.  LegalZoom.com is one step between free online legal resources and hiring a lawyer.  What sites like LegalZoom offer is “online hand-holding” through the legal process.  In terms of business services, sites like LegalZoom offer hand-holding through the incorporation and LLC formation processes as well as drafting partnership agreements and filing Doing Business As statements.  Always consult a lawyer if your startup or small business has the money, but be aware that there are less expensive options to explore as well.
  4. Don’t unnecessarily shell out money traveling to meetings. Whenever you can, use free video conferencing technology like Skype or TokBox.  You could also use paid web conferencing technology like GoToMeeting.com or WebEx.com
  5. This is geared more toward offline businesses: Don’t hire a web developer unless you have complex website needs. If you’re starting or run a business that has a physical storefront, consider how complex you web needs truly are.  Are they so great that you couldn’t self-install WordPress (#1)?  Could you use free website creators like DevHub.com, Wix.com or Google Sites?  Is a Twitter account enough to suit your business’ needs?
  6. Accept credit cards with SquareUp.com. SquareUp.com (also called “Square”) offers free credit card readers that you can plug into an iPhone.  It’s simple to use and cheaper per transaction than most other credit card readers.  Even better, if your business is not currently accepting credit cards, you’re leaving money on the table, as people tend to spend more money when using credit cards than when they use cash.
  7. Consider using FreeConferenceCall.com. FreeConferenceCall.com provides any group (including small businesses, of course) a teleconferencing phone line that is available 24/7.  Your group gets a dial-in number and access code.  Once you share this information with your group members, you can all communicate in the same secure environment.
  8. Use your scrap paper.
  9. Get a business phone number with Google Voice. If you’re still using your cell phone as your business’ phone line, pay particular attention to this tip.  Google Voice is a free voicemail and phone number rerouting service from Google.  Your customers can call a phone number that you select for free as your business phone number from Google’s database of available phone numbers.  Their calls are rerouted to any number you choose (i.e. your cell phone).  They’ll never need to know your personal number.  If the calls made to your Google Voice number are not answered, the voicemails will be transcribed (though not perfectly, you should hire a voicemail transcription service for that) and sent to your email.  Your voicemails are also available to be played online.
  10. Consider working out of a coworking location instead of leasing officespace. Coworking is shared officespace, generally with a community feel and month-to-month rental agreements.  Unlike signing a formal lease for several years, coworking is a lot more flexible.  Also, leasing traditional officespace requires you to estimate your space requirements and many small business owners overestimate, paying more than they should.  Coworking, on the other hand, allows you to simply rent another desk when you need to add someone to your office.

Bonus Tip: Make sure you know how to have a logo designed as cheaply as possible. LogoMaker.com is a great free online logo maker.  Freelancing websites like oDesk.com, Elance.com and Guru.com are also great for inexpensive logos.  Moving up the price scale, there’s 99Designs.com, which is more expensive than these other options but deserves a mention because it’s a website that allows designers to submit logo designs and you only pay for a logo if a designer creates one you like and want to use.

Randall Davidson, 27, is the lead project manager and a co-founder of Audio Transcription, a transcription service.  Audio Transcription was founded on a shoestring budget and, incorporating many of the above money-saving tips, has grown to the point where it now provides business transcription and other services to many large clients.

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Category: Startup Advice

  • http://vanblogs.com Van Baird

    Perfect timing! I’m opening up in July and have actually used a few of the tips. WordPress.org was the way to go for my blog which I’m using as the backbone of my social media presence. Meeting on line is so much more practical, especially with gas prices in the ATL being so high.

    A special shout out to Google voice. That’s been the biggest, “Where’d you get that?” tool with all my friends. Randall, if you don’t mind, I’d love to branch off of the Google voice idea and ask your readers if they are using any virtual PBX exchange systems? As the office grows, Google voice will start having some limitations, and I’d love to know what folks are using.

    Thanks again for your perfect timing!


  • http://twitter.com/Anna_Helene Anna Helene

    Just learned about fiverr.com which affords a lot of service (e.g. graphic designs) for only $5! That’s way better than a footlong sub in my opinion.

  • http://twitter.com/codemeluski Code Meluski

    As a web developer, I couldn’t agree with #5 more. One bad experience with a dev that’s just trying to make a quick buck, and the client is scarred for life.

  • http://twitter.com/audreygeddes Audrey Geddes

    Thank you for your insightful article and for these great resources. My business is small right now, and our goal is to operate debt free and on a specific budget. One expense that has been well worth our while has been success coaching with expert Kathleen Ranahan, who has offered us a great deal of wisdom and insight. We began this process before launching our company and this alone has saved us money as we have been able to avoid some costly mistakes.

  • http://getLoudSilence.com Loud Silence

    #9 was a great tip that I’m definitely going to utilize!

  • Kenneth Lee

    Nice tips!

    I’m all for free resources.

    Kenneth Lee

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual office assistant

    Great sharing and very useful tips too. We created our website and we actually do follow some of your tips and we will make sure to follow all of them to save our money and invest it in our business development.

  • http://twitter.com/atcampbell Annette Campbell

    These are great tips, especially no. 10. Coworking can go beyond sharing office space, like splitting the cost of supplies so they can buy in bulk, sharing office equipment, or splitting the cost of services. Splitting and sharing can also be done without coworking. They can organize a group using online tools like SplitStuff (http://splitstuff.com). In fact, online grouping can enhance the usefulness and effectivenes of meetups.

  • Anonymous

    That is a pretty good list. Instead of buying microsoft’s office suite, I use Open Office. You get almost the same functionality. For just about any software these days, you can find a a free/freemium substitute online.

  • Sue

    For antivirus try Microsoft Security Essentials’ free download. Not only is it free but it doesn’t slow down your computer while its working like some of the paid products such as Norton or Avast.

  • http://grasshopper.com Allison

    Great tips Randall. I know you have Google Voice on the list, I’d add google voice or a virtual pbx. You have more control with a virtual pbx as it can offer better support, more features, gives you number ownership etc. With a virtual pbx you also have the opportunity to have a toll-free number instead of a local number. Toll-free numbers can make your small company look bigger and more professional.

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