Top 10 Ways To Tighten Up Expenses For Business Owners
By: Cindy Buie

Sometimes thinking small is the best way to achieve big results. Such is the case for closely-held businesses looking for unique ways to save in a tough financial landscape. And while executives are trimming from the top, every employee can help play a role in reducing excess waste. Here are our “Top Ten Everyday and Lesser Known Ways” for businesses to tighten up around the office:

1. Review Your Insurance: Are you getting the best rates on medical insurance for your employees and general liability for your business? Ask your agent about ways you may be able to save, or inquire about money saving umbrella policies.

2. Manage Corporate Credit Cards: – Review spending limits for anyone who has access to a corporate card and set spending guidelines for what items can be purchased on the card and review billings to ensure compliance.  Communicate any changes to the spending policy clearly and in plenty of time before the change. If you’re shopping around for better rates, check out the comparisons online at Bankrate.com.

3. Don’t Forget about Hidden Tax Savings: Check with your AGH accountant to make sure you’re getting all of the small business tax savings you deserve in 2008. From employee training reimbursements to start-up costs, travel and even entertainment, it’s important to make sure you maximize your potential deductions. According to Andy Grant, director of the AGH business advisory practice, “It has been our experience that spending a little extra time focusing on the otherwise forgotten tax deductions can potentially reduce your tax bill by thousands of dollars.”

4. Smart Travel:  – Sure, you may be used to flying first class and staying in five star hotels on business trips, but flying coach and dropping down to a three or four star hotel can save your company hundreds, if not thousands, per year. Investigate discount airlines such as JetBlue and AirTran for discount one-way fares. Consider using online travel websites such as Priceline, Travelzoo and Hotels.com when booking hotels and rental cars, especially if you’re flexible with your dates by a day or two. You’ll get the same quality at a fraction of what you’re used to paying through a traditional travel agent.

5. Forge Relationships: The strength of your business relies heavily on your relationships, both on the customer and vendor side. Get out there and get to know people. Face time is extremely valuable in shaky economic times because people need to be reaffirmed. Use every opportunity to network, even when it’s not on company time. Connecting with vendors to build strong relationships now will help you both weather the economic storm and by working together with openness and honesty you could turn a difficult discussion into a win/win.  Referrals from good business practice is what it’s all about. Strong relationships will carry you through the tough times and give your company the foundation it needs to grow.

6. Bills as Advertisements: Sending a client a bill? Include a new brochure, or put an ad at the bottom of an online invoice. This saves on mailing costs and also cuts back on paper waste.

7. Share Printers and Reduce Printing: Does every employee in the office need a printer? Try to lump print jobs together with a few printers staggered throughout the office. Save money on ink and toner by reusing cartridges and getting them refilled instead of buying new ones. Offer a tag line at the bottom of your emails asking ‘Do you really need to print this?’ which will not only circulate around your office, but offer a helpful suggestion to clients about cutting back on excess waste.

8. Consider Subletting Office Space: Have some extra cubicles or offices sitting empty? Sublease them to professionals who don’t want to pay for an entire office but still need a professional work environment.

9. Monitor Electricity: Set your thermostats to a lower temperature, encourage staff to shut down computers and lights when they’re not using them, and replace your current light bulbs with new energy efficient ones. May not seem like much, but after a few months, you’ll notice a big difference in your energy bill.

10.Join the Trades: Trade Associations are valuable organizations which not only provide useful information pertaining to the latest trends in your business, but also offer deals on everything from insurance to travel. They’re also great places to network.

Remember, it’s your business after all, so be as diligent as necessary in taking the right approach to managing your business in a tight financial climate.  The small stuff adds up and the savings could be substantial, so spend time each week or each month looking for opportunities to tweak your spending.  In the long run, small changes in spending may impact your employees minimally but your bottom line greatly.

Contact Cindy Buie at 404-835-1914 or [email protected] with any questions.

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