Stretching Your Business’ Dollar

When you run your own business, every dime is precious. Cutting costs is crucial, and just because there might not be any obvious ways to do so, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any. In fact, there is almost always some way to run your business more efficiently and with less overhead. Once you have developed an eye for effective cost-cutting measures, you can generate more profit than you ever thought possible.

cost cutting tips
Image by o5com / Flickr

Simple Things

The first thing you should do is look at the cost of your utilities and determine what is actually essential. For instance, many small business owners can do without a landline telephone. Most people use a cell phone as their primary means of communication, and services like Skype and Google Talk are better for teleconferencing than traditional phones. If you must have a landline phone, you could potentially save some money by using a VOIP service like Vonage. Some packages cost as little as $10 per month, and VOIP services generally provide cheaper long distance and international calls than conventional phone services.

Re-Think Your Insurance

If you have more coverage than you need, you can go ahead and drop the extraneous parts of your small business policy without hamstringing yourself in the process. Once you have a decent buffer of cash in your savings account, you may want to opt for a higher deductible in order to lower your monthly premiums.

This kind of thinking extends beyond your home and business space. If you are working out of your house, you can lower your auto insurance costs by reducing the number of miles that your policy covers. This can have a domino effect as less time on the road means that you are much less likely to get into an accident, and your maintenance costs will be drastically lower than someone who has to commute every day. Depending on where you live, it may be possible to reduce your annual auto insurance premiums to a few hundred dollars.

Buy as Much as You Can

You will need lots of supplies to keep your business running smoothly, so make sure to purchase in bulk. Not only is buying in bulk cheaper over the long term, you can deduct the storage space from your taxable income. Even if your business supplies only take up two to five percent of your home storage space, that makes a big difference come tax time.

Use the Cloud

This is one of the biggest things that people overlook. The cloud provides a large number of services ranging from off-site storage to free Web applications that are capable of replacing standard word processing programs. The cloud tends to be cheaper than investing in a number of physical hard drives, and the backups are available from any computer that’s connected to the Internet. The cloud gives small businesses a huge advantage because it allows for greater flexibility and efficiency than the old way of doing things, but many businesses have yet to adapt to the technology.

Barter, Bargain, and When Possible, Get Things for Free

Networking is important for reasons that go beyond drumming up clients or catching wind of new opportunities. Entrepreneurs are more than glad to help each other out, and if you can trade one item you don’t need for something that you want, or you can procure something that you need in exchange for your services, then you may be able to save a lot of money.

There are countless resources devoted to frugal living, and you don’t have to go off-the-grid in order to opt out of the usual consumerist claptrap. If you learn the best ways to save money and cut spending before you hit rough times, you have a much higher chance of keeping yourself and your business afloat until the worst of it passes.

Geoffrey Williams blogs about good deals on car insurance for small business owners. If you are looking for affordable and reliable car insurance, try, where you can compare quotes.

The Many Hats of Small Business Ownership

Small Business Owners Wear Many Hats… One at a Time.

As you launch your own business, you inevitably will “wear many hats.” Of course, day-to-day operations will require frequent changes of hat and headgear, but you always must remember, when you don more than one hat at a time, you just look and act silly. More importantly, you absolutely cannot change your mind each time you change your hat. Change-up the millinery as circumstances demand, but make sure each new brim contributes to building the business by commanding customers’ loyalty.

Pat on his Mac (next to another Mac)
Image by Kevin Galens / Flickr

Maintain Your Priorities and Solve Urgent Problems

Before you celebrate your grand opening, take time to examine your entire hat collection, assessing the relative importance of each. The collection surely will include marketing, public relations, advertising, accounting, finance, IT, forecasting and planning; as the business grows, you will add personnel management and training. Day by day, your profit-and-loss, your market share and the quality of your competition may influence your hat selection, but do not allow exigency or expedience to prevail over your genuine priorities. Baseball caps and hard-hats come and go, but your dedication to building the business persists. Therefore, go to the hat tree with a realistic sense of what to wear in the moment and throughout the day.

Customer service always comes first

Inventory management and marketing always seem urgent, but they never become so urgent you cannot set them aside and devote your undivided attention to a customer’s needs. You always have known this cardinal principle of good business, but the pace, distraction and stress of running a one-man-show may cause temporary lapses of memory. A well-chosen customer service cap will keep you safe.

Become exceptionally skilled at problem-solving

Skilled problem-solvers develop their powers of discernment, and they use those powers to determine which problems they can solve with their own resources and which require professional intervention. In order to remain focused on building your business, call-in qualified people to fix urgent problems outside your areas of expertise. If you cannot fix a toilet, call a plumber. If you cannot do taxes, call a CPA. In general, if you cannot see cause and solution in a problem’s symptoms, call an expert.

Dedicate your best efforts to building your business

Choose your hat with consummate respect for your own time, talent and temperament. If you have exceptional marketing and public relations skills, devote lots of time and energy to using them in service of boosting revenues. Conversely, if you have little accounting skill, devote even more effort to marketing so that you generate enough revenue to hire a bookkeeper. Even as you wear your PR hat, though, keep scanning the horizon for customers in need of your special attention.

Take time for reflection

No need to hire a small business consultant. Your conscience and intuition will tell you exactly where you went wrong, and they will outline the best ways to fix your mistakes. Take time each day for serious reflection, asking three essential questions: First, find courage to ask, “Where did I go wrong?” Then summon insight and imagination as you ask, “What can I do better?” Third, reward yourself as you consider, “What did I do well, and how can I do more of it?” Record your thoughts in a journal. Make journal-writing the last item on each day’s to-do list, using it to complete the day’s business and anticipate what comes next.

Add a mortarboard to your hat collection

When your journal routinely calls your attention to a big vacancy in your hat collection, fill the empty spot by going back to school. Several reputable online universities offer advanced business degrees in entrepreneurship. Because you take just one class at a time and you complete the work online, you can focus and study according to your schedule. Andrew Shigeru, an MBA student at Ashford University, exults, “I immediately can apply the benefits of each class session and every discussion in the next day’s work. I feel myself becoming more skilled and professional literally every day.” (interview. 2012. July 7)

Recruit dedicated staff

As your business grows, promote staffing to second place on your list of priorities. When you recruit devoted employees to wear hats that do not fit you well or complement your complexion, you relieve much of your stress and gain time for wearing your own favorite hat, the one that always has held a little magic and inspired your best work.

About the Author: Kelly Smith is a full-time writer for higher ed blogs and journals nationwide with a focus on online education opportunities. Several schools offer online degrees in strategic management, including New England College and Quinnipiac University.

Five Tips for Wining and Dining Business Executives

In the business world, it’s not uncommon to have to entertain potential and current customers. You may also find that you are given the task of entertaining out-of-town executives from sister businesses. If you are put in charge of the entertainment, you may feel the weight of the world come crashing down on your shoulders. Don’t let the task of wining and dining your customers become overwhelming, though. Here are five tips for entertaining your clients, customers, and fellow executives:

1. Do the Legwork

If you know that your boss is going to make you the go-to person when it comes to entertaining customers, take a week or two and do some legwork. Scout out a few local restaurants, get to know the staff and management, and build a relationship with the eatery. When you build a solid relationship with a local restaurant, you can expect to be treated like an old family friend every time you walk through the door. The way that you are treated will impress your client and make them feel welcome.

limousine, place de la Bastille (PARIS,FR75)

2. Book a Limo

You don’t have to book a limousine for the same client each time they come to town, but if you book a limo the first time they visit, you are sure to impress them. Book the limo for an evening when you will be entertaining the client, not just picking him or her up from the airport. For many clients, this may be their first limousine ride since the high school prom, and you are sure to start off on the right foot by hiring a car.

3. Explore Your Town

Part of the benefit of traveling out of town for business is the ability to explore new cities. When your client comes into town, give them time to get settled in, and then show them your city. Visit the sites and attractions that make your area famous, even if it’s just having the town’s best burger for lunch. If your client is a nature lover, head out to some local parks. If your client loves to shop, take them to the newest mall in town. Your goal should be for your client to feel like they know your city by the time they leave.

4. Attend an Event

If you have the budget to do it, take your client to a major event happening in your town or a neighboring one. Go to the baseball stadium for the day or to an evening concert. Find out what it is that your client enjoys doing in his or her free time, and try to come up with an activity that matches his or her interests.

5. Arrange a Day Out

Get creative and arrange a day out for your client. Book your client several treatments at a ritzy spa, buy them a day pass to the local amusement park, or arrange for a surfing lesson. By arranging an entire day out for your client, you will be getting them out of their hotel room; something they are sure to appreciate.

If you are put in charge of entertaining clients, try to think outside of the box. Anyone can take a business executive out to dinner, but few people will spend the time to get to know him and his interests. Remember that entertaining your client in a way that suits their personality can be the difference in keeping that client or have them running to your competition.

Joe Jackson lives in Los Angeles and blogs about business matters, including how to entertain business executives. If you are looking for a way to impress your business guests, think about hiring a limousine for them at

Achieving Cost-Effective Growth through Sponsorship

If you’re looking for a way to differentiate your business from the other firms in your niche and increase its visibility across your trade area, sponsorship may be your answer. There are many ways to use sponsorship to drive your sales, but its most effective uses are often its most obvious. Regardless of your company’s size and sales goals, you can use the following primer on corporate sponsorship to take your business to the next level.

Consider Your Audience

As a small business owner, your trade area may be fairly circumscribed. While you’d no doubt prefer to expand your business beyond its current narrow confines, you can use sponsorship opportunities to your advantage while you’re still small. Look for manageable, community-focused organizations and events that need sponsors, like youth athletic tournaments, high school plays and county fairs and parades. You’ll generate tremendous goodwill by sponsoring such events, which don’t usually register on the radar of major corporations. Regardless, state athletic tournaments, minor-league sports clubs, and civic construction projects are all worthy investments.

Logo - It's What We Do T-Shirt

Budget Considerations

Generally speaking, the size of your advertising budget will be proportional to your annual revenues but the reality is more complicated than that. When choosing between sponsorship opportunities, first determine whether you’ll be an exclusive sponsor. You should avoid buying into the lowest rungs of tiered sponsorship opportunities: There are so many businesses down there that it’ll be difficult for yours to gain separation from the pack.

Just as importantly, you’ll want to confer with the sponsored event’s organizers beforehand to work out a hard-and-fast budget. Draw up some type of contract outlining your duties and expectations as a sponsor, with exact fees laid out to the extent possible. You don’t want to publicly air dirty laundry and squander the goodwill that your sponsorship has generated.

Marketing Strategy

You’re sadly mistaken if you think you can just pay for a sponsorship and then sit back and watch the sales roll in. Successful sponsorships require aggressive legwork before, during and after the sponsorship’s active period. Common sponsorship support activities include:

  • Merchandising: If you’re sponsoring an athletic tournament or other such discrete event, consider releasing a line of clothing or kitchenware that tastefully promotes both the event and your business.
  • Invitations: Again, you don’t want to be seen as crass, but inviting your most reliable clients and suppliers to the sponsored event will go a long way towards growing your business. Be sure to highlight other your other community-building activities when you do.
  • Coordination: If you’re not the event or organization’s exclusive sponsor, pay careful attention to your co-sponsors and try to coordinate with them as much as practicable. If you especially like the way any specific co-sponsors do business, approach them after the fact to gauge their interest in future partnerships, even if your businesses have little in common. Good companies make everyone with whom they interact look attractive by association.

Securing favorable sponsorships for your business can be more difficult than it would appear, especially if you’re a local concern with a limited advertising budget. By sponsoring realistic events and organizations, using your sponsorships as a promotional platform to grow your sales, and working closely with fellow sponsors on future partnerships, sponsoring a local soccer team or civic organization may turn out to be the best business decision you’ve ever made.

About the Author: Linda Rhimes is a freelance blogger and occasionally writes for – a site she loves using to find Pizza Delivery Local.

Treat Your Home-Based Business Right

When working from home, it can be very easy to cut some corners and leave things out. Falling into this trap can be a huge error on your part and can cost you loss in profits and potentially even a loss of your business. Setting things up the right way will help you to build a strong foundation for your business to grow on.


Having a system for accounting in place for your business in imperative for success. Just like with your personal finances, you need to be able to account for the money coming in as well as for the money going out. Not only will this information be important for you, personally, but it will be needed come tax time. Another time that your financial documents will come in to play is if you need to prove the success of your business for loan purposes; business and personal alike.

Keeping track of your income and expenses does not mean that you have to go out any buy special software and then try to learn how to navigate through it all. Accounting can be done in just about any fashion that you are able to do. If you are computer savvy, you can get software that can ease the process of tracking your finances, there are plenty of programs that are already loaded on most computers, or an Excel spreadsheet can be used. If you are not comfortable with a computer, there is no reason why you can’t use the tried and true paper, pencil, and calculator. Regardless of what you use, make sure that you are comfortable using it so that you can maintain it.


Not every business needs to have a business license, but many do. Before you begin anything where money is trading hands, find out if you need a license to do business. Do not operate your business without a license if one is required as you will then be liable for anything that may go wrong as you will most likely not be covered by insurance.


Depending upon what the business is that you are running out of your home, you may need special insurance coverage. Do not overlook this as you could have issues you do not want to be involved in should an issue arise. It is often thought that just because you do not need a business license or that you are not doing a business that could potentially harm another (like massage), that insurance is not needed. This is a costly misconception. Before you open your doors for business, call your insurance company, or one that deals with business insurance, to find out if you need to have coverage. Even if you do not need coverage, you may need to change your current insurance policy in order to cover your new business. If you have people coming in and out of your home or even hold a significant amount in inventory, your insurance company may want you to have additional coverage. Auto insurance could need to be changed as well, especially if you are carrying any sort of inventory that needs to be covered in case of a loss.

Operating a home-based business should be treated as seriously as if you operated one out of a building. Any business is just as important as another, regardless of where the headquarters are. Having a strong foundation in which to build on will help you to see the growth that you desire.

About the Author: Chris Baker is a freelance writer and blogs for where you can find great deals on cheap car insurance for new drivers!