People in the business world are fond of saying “You have to spend money to make money.” While that’s generally true, unfortunately many small business owners say this right before they are about to bust the budget on an unwise expense.
When things are tight, or you’re just starting out, it’s especially important to allocate your dollars wisely. Here are ten things you probably don’t need (especially at the beginning):
Custom Websites. There are a lot of fantastic template-based websites available at reasonable prices. Most small businesses can get away without hiring an expensive designer. One I have heard amazing things about is BigCommerce. Click here to try it free. Don’t forget that Hosting doesn’t have to be expensive either. TOTS uses GreenGeeks and we couldn’t be happier with our cost or the service we receive.
Expedited shipping. Can you wait another day or two for that box of inventory or supplies? Save yourself some money and avoid high shipping charges, unless you absolutely must have the items within the next day or so.
Unneeded advertising. Many businesses advertise because they feel they have to. But if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. If your sales are good, marketing strategies are working and the pace of business is comfortable for you, don’t go out and buy ads just because it’s “the thing to do.”
Advertising without a plan. Many small businesses advertise in a very haphazard fashion because they don’t have a plan or a goal. They print glossy brochures, buy newspaper ads and purchase a radio spot and then wait to see what happens…if anything. Ads work best when you have a clear purpose in mind, and you can track them to see if the desired result is obtained.
Overpriced postage. You don’t necessarily have to sign up for online postage services or buy expensive meters. A cheap digital scale can be purchased for as little as ten dollars and you can easily print postage with no added fees from Paypal as we described in this post.
Office supplies that you’ll never use. Not every business needs paper clips, staplers, hole punches and stackable trays. Make a list based on your actual needs and don’t be pressured into buying bulk or paying store membership fees if your starting budget is very slim.
Buying or renting space you don’t need. If you can work out of your bedroom, do it. It’s not glamorous but oh the money you will save!
Promotional items that don’t translate into sales. Personalized tote bags are cute, but will they really sell more of your products, and do really want two hundred of them to hand out? Promos can work, but choose the item(s) very carefully, be mindful of your budget, and have a plan for placement and distribution.
All new stuff. When just starting out, it’s tempting to get new clothes or some new furniture or maybe even a new computer. Don’t. Just be patient, use the stuff you already have and concentrate on developing and marketing your great product. If you do need something, check Craigslist or post a Freecycle request.
Software. You can create good graphics for your website, blog or Facebook page without Paint Shop Pro. The same goes for accounting programs. Simple, cheap and even free programs can suffice in the beginning. I know many business owners and bloggers who just use spreadsheets. Some programs, like FreshBooks, offer a free trial so you can try before you buy.
How have you saved money with your business or blog? Are there any mistakes that you’ve learned from?