The coronavirus is a game-changer for many small businesses. It’s disrupted the economy, even leading to some small businesses closing their doors. Many are struggling with decreased budgets and social distancing requirements that need to be followed. The economic news is not what many small business owners want to hear.
However, there is a silver lining: change urges innovation. For business owners who are flexible and willing to rethink their current processes, there are numerous ways to make change. Summer is a good time to find ways to reduce operating costs in your company and survive what some are calling the “Great Lockdown.”
Here are six ideas to save money in your small business:
1. Switch to a virtual office space
Remote work is obviously trending because it reduces costs and gives employees additional flexibility. For some businesses it’s been an opportunity to see if they can operate effectively and efficiently in that type of environment. If the switch is successful, many businesses may continue allowing employees to work remotely to eliminate rent and utility costs. Switching to a virtual office also saves in cooling costs, paper, security, building insurance, and much more.
Businesses may fear not having a brick-and-mortar location, but in this day and age, online marketing is highly effective. Make social media your new sales channel and watch your sales grow.
2. Ensure you are energy efficient
The biggest energy users for domestic and commercial properties are usually HVAC units and air conditioners. Summer means significantly higher electric bills, so this is a great area to focus on. Reduce your small business’s monthly electric bill by utilizing a programmable thermostat, purchasing blackout curtains, and simply turning off the lights.
Also, have regular maintenance performed on your AC units so your system cools the same for less money. You can change air filters and clean vents yourself instead of hiring expensive technicians. According to Energy Star, businesses that invest strategically can cut utility costs 10 to 30% without sacrificing service, quality, style or comfort
3. Revisit bills and negotiate
There are ways you can trim your monthly expenses by simply picking up the phone. About 68% of Americans are worried about their ability to pay loans and bills, according to a TransUnion survey.
In times like these, companies are aware of the circumstances and hardships you may be going through, so it doesn’t hurt to contact service providers to try to negotiate and get your current bills reduced. Look into new cell phone plans and consider changing providers if you don’t have success negotiating down your current rates; you could end up saving as much as half of your current phone bill.
Do the same for internet providers. If your current provider won’t lower your rates, a different company in your area might offer introductory rates that will reduce your monthly spending. Take the time to look into ways to reduce the costs associated with this aspect of running a business.
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4. Start a summer internship
Summer break likely means there are unemployed young adults who are willing to work for minimum wage and the work experience that comes along with it. It’s an ideal time to offer a summer internship program. Partner with local universities and their business departments to find eager students looking for work.
Just remember not to view the interns as free labor. If you are a for-profit business, you will need to pay minimum wage or more, and even overtime. That doesn’t mean, though, you can’t have an unpaid internship. They do exist, but you will want to check the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) guidelines to see if you’re meeting the requirements for unpaid internships.
5. Combine business with pleasure
It’s obvious that the travel industry has been majorly affected by the pandemic and everyone is itching for a vacation. Did you have a summer business trip planned? Combining business and leisure is one way to save money by simply adding some extra days for a summer vacation. Instead of paying for two sets of plane tickets, hotel rooms, and car rentals, combine it all into one trip.
If you have a family, it can become a little trickier to combine a business trip with a leisure trip. Make sure to set boundaries for work and play. Keep expenses separate and you just may be able to deduct business expenses as long as you do more business than pleasure.
6. Consider sharing
For small businesses, sharing is a great way to save a quick buck. Instead of hiring new staff, use freelancer sites like Upwork to hire for one-off tasks and other work. Another option is to barter your services for with another company for services that you need.
Consider sharing office space with another small business to reduce your rent and electricity costs. If you have a room or two that sits empty, don’t pay to cool it—rent the space to another business that needs storage or to a freelancer who wants a small office set up. There are endless cooperative opportunities for small businesses who try to find them.
Saving money in the face of the coronavirus can be an intimidating task—but it is possible to reduce costs with the right mindset and smart strategies.
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