This guest post was written by Liz Krause.
Frugality is often associated with those who are in dire straits and have found themselves tightening the financial belt to such an extreme that there is hardly room to breathe. However, the practice of frugality not only applies to the penny pinching family of five, but also to work at home moms, dads, and any other small business owner.
With the advancements of modern technology there are many ways businesses can live by the laws of “frugal living”. This article addresses 6 tips which help the work at home business owner save on expenses and yet keep a professional and efficiently run business.
1. One phone line – multiple numbers. If your company requires multiple numbers or toll free numbers, do not be fooled into thinking each number requires a separate individual line. Call your phone company and request the additional numbers be forwarded to the main number. This can be an easy way to immediately eliminate any unnecessary expenses. Callers will never know the difference.
2. Consider switching to an internet phone service. There are different levels of internet phone service available for small businesses. Software such as Skype or Google Talk may come to mind – yet while these may be good for those who need “free” service, there are other more professional options which are very low cost.
The most practical for small businesses are VoIP phones and services. These allow you to use the internet to make and place calls. They are of a higher quality than regular internet services such as MajicJack which connects straight to your computer. VoIP providers such as SpeakEasy (owned by BestBuy), Vocalocity, 8×8 and so forth, will provide a higher call quality more suitable for businesses. Businesses will receive professional service features such as voicemail, call forwarding, music on hold, call transfer, 3 way calling, auto attendant and more. This is all done through what is known as a “hosted PBX” which is managed by the service provider. The only expense to you is the VoIP phone.
Using a VoIP service can literally cut your existing phone bill in half. You will be charged fewer taxes and can eliminate your regular landlines – a huge savings if you use extensions. For larger businesses requiring multiple locations –try looking at SIP Trunking which is an upgraded way of viewing VoIP.
3. Don’t be something you are not. As a small business owner, there is always a fine line to be drawn between remaining true to the fact you are a small business, yet not appear so small as to give a negative impression of being “too” small.
Using departmental extensions can make a company look as if they have a large staff. However, if you are a one or two person business, paying the extra expense for these special extensions most likely will not pay off. Having an extension for support, another for sales, another for customer service, and yet another for billing may sound great, but it will not take long for customers to realize that the same person is manning all these departments. The impression this can leave is that you are deceitfully trying to give the image you are much bigger than you really are.
By eliminating these extra departmental extensions, you will also cut down on your bill, as typically each of these extensions are an extra fee which you must pay. Be true to who you are but remain professional and businesslike.
4. Budget – and save the left overs. As with any business – home based or not – budgeting is critical. We can budget until we are blue in the face yet if we do not adhere to those budgets – our bottom line will be toast.
At the end of each month, analyze how you did with your budgeting. If there is any money left over, set it aside in an account such as a savings account which earns interest. Over time this will build up and may prove very useful for any unexpected expenditures which lurk around the corner.
5. Schedule your meetings wisely. Meeting clients for dinner or lunch is enjoyable – after all who doesn’t like to take a break from the office? However, these outings can often put quite a strain on your wallet. To cut down on these dining expenses, block out those times on your calendar and schedule around them. If you want to meet with a client in person, suggest meeting at their office or grabbing a cup of coffee instead.
6. Save the gas and meet online. Two types of technology which is used more and more by businesses are webinar and video conferencing software. Businesses can use Skype for video conferencing which works great. For webinars or online meetings try packages like AdobeConnect, or GoToMeeting.
The ability to meet with clients online is a fast and easy way to save on travel expenses. Need to discuss financials or talk about a new product or even conduct a training seminar? No problem – do it online.
By comparing the amount of gas required to meet with your clients –to the low monthly rates of these webinar tools, you will recognize the savings in no time at all.
Following these simple tips can help you run your business with more frugality and a lot less stress. Do your research and start saving!
About the Author:
Liz Krause enjoys writing on topics which can help fellow work at home enthusiasts save money. She currently works for a company which provides professional SIP Trunking services for large businesses. She and her husband use regular VoIP for their own home based software company which she works for on the side.