With employment falling and adequate wages often hard to come by, many of us are starting up businesses of our own. But whether it’s eBay selling at the weekend or a full-time self-employed enterprise, it’s easy to end up spending more money than you’re making – if you’re not careful. One retired lady we know set herself up in the antiques business, but her husband spends so much time and money driving her to and from the car boot sales and antiques fairs that, as a couple, they’re actually making a loss. It’s not the end of the world – they’re having fun, at any rate – but it serves as a cautionary tale, to make sure you’re aware of all your costs instead of just the obvious ones.
Online services versus the high-street
The current common understanding is that the web is usually cheaper than the high street, which may be true – but cheap does not always equal good value. You might think you’re saving money by buying second hand on eBay, but if you don’t like the item the seller is under no obligation to take it back unless they’ve seriously misrepresented it. When it comes to material products, it’s often a good idea to examine the item in the real world before handing over any money.
Business services, however, are different – there are many areas where money can be saved by using online services, without compromising on quality. Accountancy, for example, can be undertaken online for a fraction of the high street cost – just make sure that you’re saving more (in time spent/your hourly rate + taxes saved) by paying for it than you would by doing it yourself in a free Google spreadsheet. You can hire virtual secretaries to take your phone calls (virtual as in humans that work remotely, rather than some artificial intelligence – although that may be on the way!), virtual assistants to type up your documents, and even rent call-centre style dialler software that’s fully hosted online, letting you scale your sales team up and down according to demand.
Do you really need it?
When you’re trying to save money, “do I really need it” is something to ask yourself about pretty much everything that has a price tag, and it applies to small businesses too – it’s often about questioning your assumptions as much as your actual requirements. Do you really need to buy Office when you can use Google Docs or Skydrive for free? It depends whether or not you need to work when you don’t have a web connection. Do you really need a mobile phone for work when you only ever work at the PC, logged into Skype? It depends, if course, which is cheaper.
Do you need premises, or are you just stuck in a traditional mindset that assumes they are necessary? If you don’t have to entertain clients very often, is it cheaper to do so over a restaurant lunch than maintain an office that represents you as you’d like to appear? It all depends on the nature of your business – even if you’re setting up a furniture-making company, you may be better off converting the garage to begin with, although not if the cost of parking your car on the street is more than the cost of renting a workshop!
This article is provided by http://www.markkarnes.com