When we start our businesses, we have big visions and dreams. We can see, in our minds eye, what our office will look like. We visualize the signs outside of our building, the trips we will take. The imagination is a key element to every success story. On the flip side, we can also sabotage our future by making poor decisions on where we’re spending our money. Too many companies squander their finances on unnecessary and non-productive overhead. Below, are just a few common ways you may be wasting your working capital.
*Outsourcing what can be done on-site: You’re a busy person. You can’t do it all, not should you. So, delegating tasks that you don’t need (or want) to do is wise. However, it’s important to examine who you are utilizing to do that work. There are instances where outsourcing someone to undertake projects you don’t have time to handle. Nonetheless, if you have someone on-site to handle it, that may be a better way to go. Freelancers you outsource to tend to have other clients they do work for. So, not only are you paying an additional “staffer”, but it’ll likely take longer to get done.
*Appliances and Equipment: Using energy efficient appliances is just the beginning of where you can be saving money (at the office and home). Using Energy Star appliances can save you anywhere between 10-50% on your energy bill.
Another way to cut energy costs is by using fluorescent instead of incandescent bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs use roughly 75% less energy and saves you money.
An easy way to save additional energy and dollars is to unplug! Don’t leave chargers plugged in when not in use. Turn computers off at night when you leave the office. These seem like common sense, but many people don’t follow these simple tips. That results in wasted resources and wasted capital.
*Fees: In the business we’re in, we see lots of bank statements. I’m often saddened when I see someone that has excessive NSF fees. At $35 a pop, this adds up to a lot of money thrown out the window. It’s imperative that you, or the person that handles your banking, keeps a close eye on the account. Be mindful of when deposits will clear and when payments are coming out, so as not to cross paths. Not only does this waste your money, it affects you negatively when seeking a loan.
Credit card fees also add up quite a bit. When shopping around for a business credit card, choose one that offers low or no annual fees. Pay close attention to your due dates. If you have the option to have an automatic withdraw each month, you’ll never be late on payments. A late fee of $35, on average, will be charged. If you go over your credit limit, there’s another $25-35 wasted. You may think you’re close to you limit, but come to find you’re over due to interest charges putting you over. The moral here… pay attention and make educated choices.
*Advertising: This is a tricky one. Reason being, it’s a bit of trial and error. Advertising can cost a small fortune so you want your marketing dollars to prove worthwhile. Fortunately, with social media has done wonders for businesses… free in many cases. There are pay options on sites like Facebook that purposefully place your ads for you as well. There are so many avenues of advertising that you have choices. Do some research on what is most effective in your area and in your industry before spending money. Then you can gauge what presented the best results for your business. For more about advertising, check out our article “Spreading the Word About Your Business”.
*Unnecessary staff: When you interview someone for a job at your company, you have a glimpse into how they’re going to perform. It’s not until they actually start the work that you will truly know if they’re going to be an asset. There are some people that are a tad slower to learning new things, and there are those that never will. This is why companies offer a 90-day trial period. In any case, if you have someone nearing the end of their trial period, don’t be afraid to cut them loose. I’m not a fan of firing people and think it’s important to give them a fair chance. However, when you know, you know. Making that decision is hard, especially if you really like that person. You’ll save time and money, when all’s said and done. Being the boss is tough sometimes.
*Tracking: This is pivotal in your success. There’s all types of tracking you should be doing (or having someone else do for you). As mentioned earlier, keeping track of your finances and fees will save you big time. But also, track your businesses progress. Where were you last year, fiscally? Did you improve your profit margin? Did you go down? Either way, what did you do differently in that time that made a difference either way? Gauging other things like the time of day you were able to reach most of your clients is very useful to your productivity. And for crying out loud, keep track of where your money’s being spent. You’ll be shocked to find where you could be saving money to take that dream vacation with your family!