As price hikes continue to hit the economy, small business owners are fighting to keep their heads above water. Now, more than ever, it’s vital to cut unnecessary costs and examine all areas of a business to see where savings can be achieved.
Overhead expenses, which take up a significant chunk of revenue, are an obvious place to start, but your most significant cost savings could come from making a series of smaller cuts and implementing innovative solutions.
1. Go paperless
The cost of paper and ink may seem insignificant, but it can add up to a big business expense over the course of a year. It’s a commonly recurring business cost that you can reduce by encouraging employees to be mindful of paper wastage and to stick to the following rules: Reuse waste paper for notes instead of throwing it away; set all work computers to print double-sided by default; print documents in a smaller font, and file important documents on your computer instead of in a portable file.
2. Flexible working arrangement
The cost involved in renting an office, coupled with furnishing and other daily and monthly overheads, is such an expensive affair, especially during these tough times. To help manage these costs, you may consider adopting a flexible working style where your team can either work remotely or in a hybrid model with frequent virtual meetings to keep the human interaction going. Using co-shared working spaces is another option where you only pay for the day that you need to be in an office environment. This way, you will not have to worry about office running costs as these spaces cater to all your office needs. Some even have an unlimited supply of coffee! Lastly, move to a smaller office and have your team come on a scheduled basis. For instance, have each department come in on a specific day of the week. This way, you get to maximise the small office efficiently.
3. Reconsider traditional services
A long-term contract for cleaning can result in expensive monthly bills and may not suit your small business’s needs. A cost-efficient alternative is to hire cleaners only when you need them to come in once or twice a week with pre-vetted, trustworthy cleaners.
Doing what you can to keep staff healthy makes good financial sense, too, as sick workers can slow down productivity. With August being Nigeria’s coldest month, Awazi Angbalaga, SweepSouth’s Country Manager, suggests a weekly clean of keyboards and desk phones to stop your office from becoming a germ-filled battleground. “Our hands and the surfaces we touch are the superhighways for germs, and because we touch our phones and keyboards so often, they top the list of the dirtiest items on our desks. A cleaner can wipe down frequently-touched objects with a disinfectant on a weekly basis to keep them clean,” she advises.
4. Leverage social media advertising
Truth be told, traditional advertising is so expensive that many small businesses can’t afford it. Paid social media advertising is much cheaper and will provide a savings opportunity, but if even that is too much for you to afford right now, you can build your company’s social media following organically on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. It is a much slower process, but it won’t cost you anything. You will also be able to authentically express your brand’s personality and build trust with your audience. The only cost will be your time, and a firm commitment to be regularly active and proactive on the accounts you’ve created.
5. Use freelancers and contractors for non-core work
Contracting out the jobs in your company that don’t require full-time employees can help cut overhead costs. Freelancers and interns are useful for one-off projects and non-core activities, such as data entry or document processing. They’re easier to hire and cheaper to employ, as you’re not expected to provide them with costly benefits like medical aid or leave. Make sure though, that you have proper contracts in place to set expectations and mitigate risks, for both parties. Bear in mind that freelancers may not share the same loyalty and passion for your business as full-time employees, so it makes for sound business practice to balance your staff complement by hiring a combination of both full-time employees and freelancers.
6. Switch off lights, machines and computers after hours
To help keep energy costs under control, make it a company policy to switch off air-conditioners, non-essentials lights, gadgets and equipment before staff head off home each day. Putting computer monitors into sleep mode will also cut down on unnecessary energy consumption and save money. If you run your business from a home office, make the switch to LED bulbs and opt for energy-efficient appliances to help reduce your monthly electricity costs. For a longer-term solution, consider a hybrid solar system that includes batteries for backup, while keeping a lifeline connection to the grid. This will make it possible to use essential appliances, such as a laptop and routers, in case of a power outage ; with minimal disruption to your business.
7. When in doubt, go without
If you’re struggling to allay costs, make it a practice to constantly ask: Do we really need to buy this? Do we really need to replace something? Think every purchase through instead of just spending the money on buying bigger and newer things. Even when times aren’t tough, it’s prudent to use what you already have until you are certain you need something new.
Cutting costs shouldn’t just be a periodic exercise to improve your bottom line. Good business practice dictates that you should regularly evaluate all operational expenditure. This will assist you in growing your bottom line and reducing the risk of cash-flow trouble in the future, as well as helping you become a more efficient business overall.