By Tinashe Ruzane – CEO and Co-Founder of FlexClub
Given the economic turbulence we are currently experiencing, every business is looking to save money where it can. This is even more important for small businesses, with many taking a hard knock in the wake of ongoing COVID lockdowns and infection waves. Here are some savvy ways to spend money, without impacting on effectiveness or efficiency.
1. Rethink your marketing strategies
You know what they say about doing business without advertising – it’s like winking at someone you fancy in the dark. That doesn’t mean you need to allocate a huge budget to marketing strategies, though. Don’t underestimate the power of simple moves, like optimising your website for SEO, which negates the need for spending on Google AdWords. Or sending a handwritten ‘thank you’ note with your product; a small touch which helps to build loyalty; you’re more likely to get business from a return customer than a loyal customer. One can also carefully consider the social media channels which best fit their brand profile, and keep up a consistent presence. Find ways to get the brand out there without coughing up – maybe you can identify a micro-influencer who would be happy to promote your brand to their audience in exchange for preferential use of your product or service. Finally, understand that every touchpoint is an opportunity to promote your brand – in fact, every time you meet someone new, you have a chance to grow your network and introduce them to your offering.
2. Make the most of free tools
Why pay for software when you can use the open source equivalent? Obviously, it’s impossible to run a business without using some form of software, but you may manage to avoid the hefty fees associated with many offerings by finding the open source equivalent. Spend a little time researching what’s available – you’ll find that there are many apps and tools that can be used free of charge. For example, some sites make it possible to download images for free (perfect for marketing or using on your website), while others give you the ability to design a logo or social media posts without investing in design services.
3. Reconsider every fixed cost
Your vehicle is a case in point. Do you really need to buy a car or a fleet, and commit to spending money on all that goes with it (think insurance, for example) even when business is quiet? FlexClub is a solution which removes most of the hassle of car ownership, and eliminates the fixed costs, too: with this vehicle subscription marketplace, you pay a single, month-to-month subscription for the vehicle of your choice, to be used as you wish – for business or in your personal capacity. Your subscription fee is all inclusive, which means that insurance and maintenance is not a cost you need to worry about. FlexClub is a great timesaver, too, as you don’t have to go through the difficult process of applying for vehicle finance as a small business; nor do you need to keep track of when the next service is required. Another advantage: if you’d like to change your car (perhaps the model you chose just isn’t right for the job) or pause the subscription, you can do so quickly and easily.
4. Does your staffing solution work for the business?
Small business owners are used to taking care of every aspect of the business – they may joke that they’re not only the HR director, they’re also the finance executive and marketing specialist. But, while it’s true that anyone running a small business needs to have a variety of skills, the reality is that you can’t do it all alone – at some point you will need to bring employees on board. Or will you? Many small business owners find that it’s more cost effective to outsource functions, rather than bringing a staff member into the business and investing in training and other costs, like creating a work station. This is especially true if the requirements of the job fluctuate – if there is a heavy workload for just a few months of the year, it certainly doesn’t make sense to hire a full-time employee. If, however, you decide that you’d like to grow your staff complement, it’s a good idea to look for candidates who have a great attitude and are hungry to learn, rather than those who have impressive experience and are therefore more expensive. There’s another solid reason for hiring employees fresh out of college or university: they’re often up to date with the latest tech and trends, and they’re full of fresh, out-the-box ideas.
5. Embrace the new way of working
At first, many of us weren’t comfortable with the changes that Covid brought to the workplace – like working from home, for instance. It didn’t take long before we came to realise the advantages, however – is there anyone who doesn’t appreciate the extra money they’ve saved on petrol by forgoing the morning commute? For a small business owner, these changes make even more sense. If you have a workforce, allowing them to log in remotely means that you can save on office space, and all the little extras that come with running premises (you have to keep stocked up on tea and coffee, for example). You’ll also find that you’re spending less on electricity and water. On that note, you’ll find that there are many cost savings to be enjoyed from going green wherever you can. The best news? The small changes you’d have to make are so simple, and take literally seconds – it’s as easy as using both sides of the paper when printing, making sure that all equipment and lights are switched off when not in use, and keeping wastage to a minimum. Little actions like this add up over time to bring down your operating costs, but they also have the benefit of creating a halo effect for your brand – after all, consumers like to know they’re supporting companies that are doing what they can to support the environment.