If you’re a budget-conscious small business owner, you might describe your organization as lean, nimble, and scrappy. In a recent survey of small business owners, we found that 49 percent of business owners say that cash flow concerns keep them up at night. So, it makes sense that you would want to be as resourceful as possible to save money. Here are a few things that can help.
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Open a pop-up
The reason so many small businesses start online? Rent. This monthly expense can be prohibitively high in certain desirable neighborhoods, which makes it a dealbreaker for some businesses. So, instead of committing to one location, experiment with the pop-up model.
That way, you can try out different neighborhoods on a short-term basis. It will help you figure out the ideal location for your business, if you decide to go the brick-and-mortar route. It will also raise brand awareness among people in each neighborhood you visit.
Share space with another business
If you have a great location in an ideal neighborhood but can’t (or don’t want to) shoulder the rent burden alone, consider teaming up with another business to share the space. Whether you host pop-ups in your space or split the area with a partner business, reducing your monthly bill gives you the freedom to experiment and try new ways to grow your business while allowing you to breathe a little easier.
Money isn’t the only way to compensate for goods and services. In fact, bartering dates back to 6,000 B.C. If you want to explore creative payment options, talk to some of your vendors about what alternatives they’d accept.
For example, if you run a [salon] and like to have fresh flowers on the front desk, ask your florist if they’d like to exchange flowers for hair services and products. Or, if you own a boutique, see if your handyperson would accept clothing in exchange for services rendered.
Negotiate for a lower price/fee
Whether it’s a vendor, a building management company, or any other service provider, it never hurts to try and negotiate for better prices. Your chances of getting a lower price are better if there’s potential for a long-term business relationship instead of a one-time transaction.
It’s also a good idea to talk to other local business owners to get a sense of what they’re paying for certain goods and services. That way, you know if you’re getting a fair quote.
Buy secondhand equipment and furnishings
High startup costs can be crushing to new businesses, so look at your list of needs and wants and figure out where you can save by buying used items. For example, if you operate a food truck, a new vehicle can cost up to $150,000, whereas a used truck can cost between $40,000 and $80,000. And if you also need to pay for things like licenses and permits (for which you cannot negotiate a lower price), it makes sense to save money on big-ticket items like the truck and kitchen equipment.
Once you’re more established and in a better place financially, you can revisit the idea of replacing items with new versions. Buying secondhand also gives you a low-risk opportunity to figure out what you really want and need without blowing your budget.
Go the DIY route
You might not think of yourself as a do-it-yourself-er, but being a small business owner means that you’re already doing things on your own. Opening a brick-and-mortar location? You don’t need to be a licensed contractor to do things like demolition or designing, painting, and decorating your space. (You should also reach out to friends and family who are electricians, plumbers, and contractors — there are some things best left to the professionals.)
And, instead of hiring a publicist or paying for advertising, see what you can do on your own with social media and email marketing. Stay focused on your budget and strive to be as resourceful as possible. Remember: You are capable of more than you realize.
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