Finance for Small Businesses

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Saving on Small Expenses Can Add Up

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There are no magic tricks for keeping your business costs under control. You just need to be hawk-eyed and diligent in making sure that you don't spend any more money than necessary.

One place to look for cost savings is with seemingly insignificant items, such as utility bills or mailing costs. Reducing these costs can add up to major savings for your business. Try some of the following and watch your bottom line improve:

  1. Shop by online or by mail-order whenever possible. It is frequently economical and convenient. Use a credit card for mail order. . .if you have a problem, the credit card company will assist you.
  2. Toll-free calling can add up to major telephone savings. Numerous vendors and suppliers have 800 numbers that may not be widely advertised. Don't purchase an expensive "800 directory." Either use the toll-free operator (800 555-1212) or, better yet, search using the Internet.
  3. Barter, it works! This is a great way to help your cash flow. However, you will owe taxes on the value of the bartered items, so check with your accountant or CPA.
  4. Monitor telephone usage and supplies. Telephones and supplies are often misused, and considerable savings are possible by being diligent.
  5. Monitor energy consumption. Utilize auto-setback thermostats and automatic light switches. Savings can be dramatic.
  6. Shop for the best telephone service. Rates and services vary considerably among suppliers. Furthermore, rates change frequently. Shop around from time to time and switch if necessary.
  7. Use fax or e-mail instead of mail. You will save the cost of postage, paper, envelope and mailing time--and you get instant delivery! Send messages in the evenings or weekends for further reduced telephone rates and save even more. Most fax machines and e-mail systems provide for delayed sending.
  8. Negotiate everything, including services. You can frequently purchase at a discount by merely asking. Always request a discount if you pay cash or intend to pay within 5-10 days.
  9. Comparison shop for all your needs. If you have been purchasing similar goods from the same vendor for a few months, put your regular order up for bid with the competition. . .it's likely you will do better.

[Robert Sullivan is the author of "The Small Business Start-Up Guide." For more information, visit The Small Business Advisor.]

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