Whether you own a restaurant, a real estate firm or a hair salon, you're probably looking for ways to reduce business expenses.
There are ways to cut back on those costs while also helping other local businesses. Keeping money inside our local economies can help support the vital small and medium-sized companies that employ so many people in our community and around the world.
Here are some of my favorite strategies to help reduce business expenses and boost the local economy at the same time.
1. Investigate local discounts.
Whether it's printer paper, bottled water or marketing services, try looking for ways to keep your dollars in your community—and see if there are opportunities to save money.
When I'm handling negotiations, I'm upfront about what I'm doing. I explain what I'm currently paying and see if a local provider can match or beat the price. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. But I've learned that small and medium-sized business owners really appreciate getting a shot to land me as a customer.
Pro tip: Once you've gotten the local price, ask if there's a discount for early or on-the-spot payment or for paying in cash. Local merchants may jump at cold, hard cash, offering discounts that can help reduce business expenses even more.
2. Work with local schools to find paid interns.
This strategy takes a little time, but it can be worth it! To start a paid internship program, you'll probably need to meet with an instructor or department head at your local high school or college. But if you can make a compelling case for the real-world experience students can gain at your company, you may get exceptional support and innovation for a lower pay rate than an employee from the traditional workforce.
Another plus? You can get the inside track on up-and-coming talent. Payroll is expensive. If you can trim your payroll, you may be able to reduce business expenses.
3. Find local freelancers to help get a job done.
Rather than hiring a full-time writer or marketing guru to manage your blog and social media postings, consider finding someone talented from your area.
You won't have to bear the burden of costs for a full-time employee, and the freelancer can enjoy the freedom of not being tied to any one company. You're also putting money in the pocket of someone in your community.
4. Barter services with other local businesses.
Some times old-fashioned approaches can work beautifully.
You can trade tax preparation for catering or lawn care for a haircut. The point is there are lots of local folks who need what you have to sell, and vice-versa. Bartering can get you what you need without spending actual money, which can ultimately help reduce business expenses.
5. Limit the amount of traveling you do.
Sure, there's no substitute for face time with a client. But if we take a critical look at how we spend our travel dollars, compared with the return on investment, we may find that travel costs more than it's worth.
Instead of booking every industry event all over the world, maybe pare down your travel dates, focusing on the ones with the greatest potential to benefit your bottom line. And instead, think about hosting some local events featuring area speakers and caterers, and using other services from your neighborhood.
6. Join forces with your fellow local business owners.
One of the reasons giant corporations can negotiate better rates for the goods and services they need to run their business is because of their buying power.
Your retail store might not need huge quantities of printer paper or ink cartridges, but what if you pulled together all the needs for your entire shopping center? That would add up to a lot of paper and ink. By working together you and other local companies can reduce business expenses by negotiating for better prices.
I travel all over the world, and I love seeing entrepreneurship in a global perspective. But I'm also committed to working within my local community—the place I live, where my kids have gone to school and where I socialize. Being able to employ local workers not only gets work done, but it can benefit the people in my community.
The need to reduce business expenses is practically universal, but the solution can often be found right in our own backyards.
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