The following are 10 cost-saving ideas that could help you kick-start a successful small business by minimising your costs and come out swinging as we enter the second half of 2017.
Share office space
Office spaces are very expensive in the city. For a small business owner, it is very difficult and costly to run their business from the centre of the city. Instead of paying rent for a high-end building all on your own, consider sharing your office space with someone. For many small businesses, it's possible to share space and split the rent in order to save money resourcefully.
Another option which is very popular these days is co-working. You can work for free or lock up your own desk for a low rent. Whenever you need a conference room or any other amenity, you can rent it for the time you need it. For example, the lawyers working in old Dhaka use co-working to incur a lower operating cost.
Buy used equipment
For a start-up, it's not wise to start your business with branded computers or equipment. You need to watch the limited funds you have. You can save literally thousands of taka per computer and other office necessities by buying re-conditioned units. If you purchase from a reputed source, you can rest assured of your purchase. In fact, it might even come with a guarantee.
Reducing office waste can be an effective way to save. For example, before printing a document, ask yourself, “Do I actually need to print this?” An easier way to do this is to cut down the number of pages you're printing. If you run out of ink, don't buy an expensive new cartridge; simply get it re-filled at half the price. You can also use the blank page of a used page for printing a new document.
Use stock sensibly
For an inventory-based business, keeping more supplies on hand than is necessary ties up cash that can be better used elsewhere. You can set up inventory tracking to ensure you're only buying what's needed. If you currently manage inventory manually, consider adopting software that makes the job easier.
Keep an eye on expenses
Small business owners need to review their bank statements every month. You may even discover expenses that you don't even know about, such as unnecessary stationary purchases. Keeping an eye on each aspect of your statement and justifying these expenses is a great way of cutting down your future costs.
Cut down on energy use
Small businesses don't really pay attention to how much energy they're consuming because the understanding is, it does not make a big dent. However, being proactive can help you cut your utility bills considerably. If you haven't yet switched to energy-efficient lighting or if your staff forgets to turn off the lights when they leave, this can start building your utility costs.
Hire independent/retired employees
If you hire independent contractors, you have the benefit of avoiding payroll taxes and the cost of other employee benefits. Many jobs can be handled remotely and you can function quite well as a small business if you hire virtual assistants and outsource works such as book-keeping and graphic design. Small businesses often hire retired experienced professionals who can work from home to cut down their overhead costs, since they don't have to pay for any office space, equipment, or power.
Cut short unnecessary meetings
Unnecessary meetings not only cost your time but also your money. By justifying your meetings beforehand and setting a clear agenda and objectives, you can make sure you're not wasting time and money meeting people just for the sake of it.
Take advantage of tech
Look for apps and tools that can help you complete tasks more efficiently and in an organised manner. This not only helps to save time but also your limited funds. Don't be afraid to try new tools to see how they impact your productivity.
These 10 cost-saving ideas could help your small business succeed, but there are also hundreds of other ideas which can be effective based on the type of your business. It’s up to you to decide which idea is the most suitable for you.
Manjur Ahmed is the Head of HR & Admin at Grameen Telecom Trust.