Small businesses generally are not known for living large, but the economic downturn has placed even more pressure on entrepreneurs to tighten their fiscal belts and lower overhead costs. The tricky part is figuring out how to do this without negatively impacting a company's culture.
Here are three ways for small businesses to reduce expenses without cutting productivity or office morale.
1. Be smart about office space
This does not mean trimming your staff to the bare bones — which can lead to tired, overstressed workers, and by extension, poor overall employee performance. Small business owners should start by looking at the physical office and determining how well space is being used. If you find there is a lot of unused space, you can consider joining with other small non-competing businesses to share office expenses. Alternatively, if your business is looking to hire more people without upgrading offices, wall partitions, as opposed to bulky cubicles, make a more efficient use of room, generally without sacrificing the comfort of employees.
2. Reduce waste
The easiest way to eliminate waste and keep money in your pocket is by going paperless. Every year, thousands of companies produce and distribute millions of printed booklets, catalogs, manuals, brochures and notices. Email and PDF documents, besides being environmentally responsible, can do the bulk of this work at a fraction of what it costs to print, package and ship via snail mail. Small business owners should also be aware of seasonal conditions and make it an office goal to become less energy-intensive. This means making small lifestyle changes like switching to compact florescent lights, turning off overhead lights at night or, when exiting a room, lowering the AC and heat during the summer and winter months, and asking employees to bring their own coffee mugs and reusable silverware instead of supplying paper products, which can be both costly and wasteful.
3. Call on your "network of alliances"Don't forget about friends and family, especially if they provide a product or service you need. These close acquaintances may be more willing to cut you a better rate for their services than outside help — plus, you have a leg up on their background and work history.
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