One of the toughest challenges of entrepreneurship is cutting costs. Saving money extends your life as a startup, so here are 7 cost-cutting tips to keep in mind as you move forward.
1. Use Free Cloud Storage & Apps
Google Drive is a free, cloud based system for storing lots of different file types. Drive makes it easy to upload, share, and collaborate. Every Google Drive account gets 5GB of free space, and it’s less than $3/mo to upgrade to 25GB. Drive has an excellent free iOS app available, and quietly gives you the features of Microsoft Office (current retail $169), for free.
Other options include Dropbox, which allows about 2GB of free space (more if you complete a few tasks), and then 100GB with a $10/mo plan. A third option is Box.net, which scales up well to enterprise clients, but makes less sense for smaller teams.
If you know how to use Gmail, then Drive is going to be very easy for you, and if you’re only sharing documents and spreadsheets, there’s a solid chance you can easily keep things under 5GB for free.
2. Coaching / Mentorship
Many entrepreneurs opt for coaching, mentoring, and guidance from the outside, and this is a great option if it’s free, but paid mentorship can be a tricky business.
Time is one thing, but there are very, very few people who can benefit from spending cash (as well as time) on being coached – consultants are (almost always) a better, more specific expense, which can more directly help your business.
Short of hiring a consultant, consider posting a question or poll on social media. You might be surprised with the quality of responses you’d receive on networks like LinkedIn, Reddit, or Google+.
There are many low-cost resources for potential mentorship-style relationships (here’s one), but in the meantime, just stick to the fundamentals: client goals, and deliverables which address those goals.
3. Shared Workspaces
Operating out of an office requires some sizeable up-front capital. Working in a shared space is a far, far cheaper alternative than renting an entire office address. Shared workspaces are great places to meet people, grow a local network, and dynamically trade ideas with smart businesspeople who are hard at work. Most shared spaces are fairly scalable, allowing room for growth without immediately requiring a huge new down payment.
4. Build a Culture of Negotiation
Bartering is a less conventional, but completely legitimate, way to get clients. Non-monetary items can tip the scales of a deal one way or another, so bartering is a huge part of negotiation.
Building a culture of negotiation-positivity into your startup is a smart survival tactic. You literally keep money in your pocket by driving down your purchase prices. A polite attempt at negotiation won’t offend businesspeople – it’ll just create an opportunity for your company to save money. A culture of diligent frugality and polite negotiation will help your business succeed in the longest term.
5. Tax Readiness
Expect to pay taxes! Talk to a CPA early, and do research to build tax-friendly habits, such as filing away business expenses receipts, and then claiming the expenses on your taxes.
6. Audit All Expenses
Look through your bank statement history, and find the recurring expenses you might not need. Highlight the expenses in your mind, talk it over with peers, and make a decision. Too often, we pay for things we don’t need, or we pay too much for the things we do need. Shopping around for better rates (and cutting borderline-necessary expenses) will save you money in the long term.
7. Branding and Website Design
This is the first heavy hitter, and is a relatively high expense for startups.
By doing some preliminary research, you san save on costs later. Scour inspiration sites like logopond, behance, and Logospire, and once you have an idea of what you want in a logo, find a designer. The research you did beforehand will save on billable hours with your designer.
Once your branding is in order, you’ll need a web presence.
Good free resources here will help you leverage your budget and cut down designer expenses. LaunchRock.co is a starting point for getting a launch site up.
Be sure to utilize responsive design standards as you proceed, so you can effectively serve your mobile and desktop users HTML5 UP is an example of great web design templates with responsive design.
These are seven ways to save big on money and time on your growing business, and that’s part of how your startup can stay alive, and then flourish.
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