You don’t need to be a certified accountant to know your business costs cut straight into your profits. In fact, you may have already tried to keep expenditures in check, so you can fully enjoy the benefits of freelancing. To grow, though, you need to exercise creativity in every area — and that includes cutting costs.
Here are six inventive cost-cutting strategies to help you find stray dollars in your own systems and processes:
Build-it-yourself tech tools are everywhere these days, and if you take the time to read reviews, you’re sure to find a winner that helps you launch, grow or organize your business more cost effectively. Watch a few tutorials or take a quick e-course to get up to speed, but remember: Time is money, so don’t cut into project work hours to put together what you need.
This method could score you an awesome custom website, a targeted survey of your customers, a new client-onboarding system or even an overhaul of your “accounting department.”
2. Trade It Out
If your gut says you shouldn’t try to do it yourself, heed the warning and hire it out. Before whipping out your business checkbook, search for other freelance experts in your network who’d like to swap services. For example, legal contractors can give incorporating advice to copywriting buddies, who might, in turn, add some oomph to an otherwise boring blog. Or, video-editing freelancers may swap services with solopreneurs in the financial services sphere to score tips on starting a retirement fund. Get creative for a win-win, and you’ll be glad you did.
3. Keep Great Records
If office administration isn’t your strong suit, just remember: Each misplaced receipt equals a loss of income. Deductible expenses might become a hassle, but they benefit your pocketbook come tax time. You need to track necessary business expenses, so ensure you habitually review, categorize and input transactions into an accounting software.
4. Find Free Training
To hone your craft, consider exhausting all the free resources you can before paying for a course. Professional development is invaluable, so you don’t want to settle for subpar education, but find the good (free!) stuff, first. Check the library, used college textbook stores and free online book swaps. Join a community of online freelancers and pose the question, “Where’s the best place to go for free training in my niche?” The answers you hear may keep you learning for years.
5. Combine Meetings and Outings
Schedule meetings so you can sit down with clients the same day you attend an educational workshop. This way, you’re not paying twice for meals, mileage and parking. Catch up with your certified public accountant in the same outing, and while you’re at it, pick up office supplies to save four times the cash.
6. Cut the Holiday Party and Team-Building Events
As a small business, you likely don’t have the big “entertainment” expenses mid- and enterprise-level organizations have, so you don’t exactly have the holiday party and bonus checks to cut in the first place. You can, however, keep an eye on the everyday luxuries most companies call perks.
When you meet a client, for example, do you insist on making it a lunch or happy hour, when coffee will suffice? Instead of schmoozing your clients and prospects by dropping off bagels, skim headlines and clip ones they may find helpful. These ideas are less expensive and might send a healthier message.
Every smart business owner wants to lower overhead. Keep expenses reasonable with these cost-cutting strategies and stash more of that revenue in your own coffers, where it belongs.