Gina Edwards

January 12, 2017

We looked forward to it, craved it, begged for it, and finally celebrated it: 2017.

By this point, you have probably exhausted your champagne supply, done a double take on those New Year’s Resolutions, and are sluggishly returning to your business as usual.

The start of a new year signifies new opportunities and possibilities for the future, and that includes in your business. While you might think you should wait until springtime to bust out the cleaning supplies, we think this is a great moment to see how you can seriously cut down on wasted cash (meaning more money in your pocket each month).

We’ve compiled some suggestions that take very little time and can save you hundreds of dollars each month, as well as some best practices to help you avoid paying for superfluous things in the future.

Are you ready to get lean in 2017 (no pushups required)?

Hunt for Time Inefficiencies

If you’re running an online business, chances are that most of your employees are not within arm’s reach.

That means you have to track what they’re up to, one way or another.

If you aren’t already using a time tracker through Upwork or Toggl, consider instituting one. Begin monitoring some tasks a little more closely so that you can catch instances where time is being wasted.

This change opens up the possibility to talk with your employees about how certain systems are working out in the company, and if they have any possible solutions to the time suck problem. Any improvements in these areas will not only make your business run a little smoother, but also give your employees the opportunity to take ownership over any improved operations.

Possible Savings: $300+ of dollars per month in hours saved

Switch to Free Stock Photos

You probably know by now that pulling images for your website off of a Google search is at best risky and at worst illegal.

By now, you’ve probably invested in a costly month-to-month service that gives you unlimited stock photos. But is it really worth it?

Often times, you can access stock photos at free sites, including Pixabay, Unsplash, Pexels, or Life of Pix. Photos on these sites are free and can be used without attribution.

If you find that you regularly cannot locate the types of photos you need, it might be worth keeping the service around. If not, give it the ax.

Possible Savings: $50+ dollars per month in services

Prune Your Mailing Lists –– Physical and Otherwise

Depending on the type of business you have, you may depend heavily on email or paper marketing. However, if you have a long mailing list with low engagement, this can hurt you in higher costs of an online service or shipping.

How can you fix this?

Email

If you are using an email service such as Drip or ConvertKit, they have systems in place to help you keep your email list healthy. In other words, they can assist you in weeding out the people who only signed up for a free trial or download and never opened another one of your emails again.

For example, in Drip, you can send out a couple of emails that (gently) force the subscriber to take an action if they want to be kept on the list. After a few days, if they don’t do anything, they will automatically be removed.

This matters for multiple monetary reasons: lower list numbers with high levels of engagement mean that you often pay lower amounts to the service (which normally charge on a sliding scale based on the number of subscribers on the list), and can also ensure that you are spending your time marketing towards the right people. Namely, the people who care about what you have to say and will ultimately buy something from you.

Regular Mail

Companies that work in shipping and rely on direct mail for some marketing purposes must have accurate information for their clients. Having incorrect mailing addresses on file results in undelivered or late mail, which is a loss for the company.

Use the U.S. postal service’s website to help you clean up your addresses. There, you can fix incomplete addresses and add zip +4 numbers, which might qualify you for discounts.

Possible Savings: $200+ dollars in services and shipping

Take Stock of Memberships You Pay for But Don’t Use

Credit card bills come and go, but how closely are you tracking your charges?

Scan through your statements every month or two, and pay attention to any recurring charges that may no longer prove necessary. If you aren’t personally using a service, talk to the person on staff who might be, and see if they are still using it.

Some examples of membership services that might lose their luster after a while include:

  • Online storage (Do you need Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox?)
  • Audio Subscriptions (Audible, Podcasts, etc.)
  • Learning Platforms (Udemy, SkillShare)
  • Premium versions of any sites or software that you only use periodically

Possible Savings: $100+ per month in membership fees

Switch to Free Web Versions of Software

Getting software has evolved from buying a disc and installing it, or even downloading anything on a local server. Now, many of the services we need, from design to financial management, can be found online through SaaS, or software as a service.

While a lot of software is moving in this direction, there is a wide array of options and prices when it comes time to choose. Consider which types of software you could get by with a more bare bones version.

For example, if you don’t work heavily in design software, you might opt for a free online service such as Canva rather than the paid version of Adobe Creative Suite. Or, for project management, the free and clean Trello might trump more complex services like Asana.

Be realistic about what you need versus what you want, and know when to go in which direction.

Possible Savings: $100+ per month in services

Move Outsourced to In-House

Often, entrepreneurs who are short staffed choose to hire out many of the necessary aspects of the company to independent contractors, from financial consultants to photographers and designers.

But as a business grows, some of these very capable individuals might already be on staff. Take stock of the employees in your company to see who has the expertise to deliver on such services.

You might be surprised by the experts who are already in your midst.

Possible Savings: $250+ per month in expenses

Moving Forward and Paying Less

So, now that we’ve talked about how to cut some of your existing costs, let’s talk about some strategies to ultimately pay less in the future.

The best way to save money is not to spend it at all.

Use Library Resources Whenever Possible

Yes, libraries still exist, in case you hadn’t heard. A lot of people forget about these old brick and mortar standbys, but they can be an absolute life saver when it comes to bootstrapping your business.

If you need to quickly learn a complex topic, check out the book that can teach you either physically or electronically from the library. This can also be a great way to discover if it’s worth doling out the dollar bills to have this item on your bookshelf for reference, or if it’s a one-and-done kind of read.

Additionally, a lot of libraries also have free classes and services from basic Quickbooks skills to writing groups and book clubs. Maybe they will serve a much needed gap you’ve been meaning to fill in your business.

Learn Something New

Speaking of gaps, don’t be afraid to learn something new.

It might seem tempting to crop out any new and scary skill to someone else, but sometimes it can be worth it to learn how to do it yourself, just in case.

Get a consultant, friend, or employee to give you a crash course in an element of your business that you are not familiar with (or that scares you). You never know when this knowledge will need to come to the rescue.

Be a Free Trial Fiend … Strategically

Everyone loves free stuff, especially when it’s something you really need.

But be careful –– as you probably know, companies love using this tactic to get people hooked into paying for their services.

Anytime you sign up for a free trial of a service, set a calendar reminder for the day before the free trial ends. When that alarm dings, take a few minutes to evaluate how helpful that service has been to your business, and decide if you want to continue paying, or cancel.

Make a Habit of Cutting Out the Crap… But Only That

There’s a reason why The Lean Startup is so popular. No one wants to be a fat, lethargic, slow-moving business (or person, for that matter).

By etching the phrase “Do we really need this?” in the back of your brain, you will subconsciously start seeing all kinds of areas where you can eliminate waste in your company, which will ultimately lead to a more efficient operation.

But be careful. Don’t get so jacked on saving money that you start cutting some of the cool stuff that makes your company unique, like the surprise employee appreciation treats, or the service that really makes your top performers’ work lives much easier.

Cut the crap, but only that.

Ultimately, with the right attitude and finesse, you can make 2017 your fittest year ever.

Photo credit: lofilolo


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Discussion
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  1. Faust says:

    I find it quite hard saving money, I’ll have to let go of the want and focus on the need.

    • Greg Elfrink says:

      Hey Faust,

      There’s a great little book on personal finance I highly recommend to anyone who is having issues with saving money. It’s called The Richest Man in Babylon. Super easy read and very short with a lot of timeless advice on personal finance.

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