10 Strategies to Save Money and Boost Productivity
By now, you should know what you have to pay in state and federal taxes or whether you’ll be getting a refund. (Most business tax returns are due March 15.) With your current financial status in mind, here are some quick and easy-to-implement strategies for saving money and boosting both cash flow and productivity.
1. Take an inventory of all the computer and communications equipment you have. Check the storage room, around work area and inside closets. Round up all the obsolete equipment and sell it to a recycler or donate it to a school or charity for a tax deduction. If you can sell anything, put the funds toward new equipment, software or accessories.
2. Ask your employees what tools and technology they need to be more productive. Faster Internet access? Tablets or smartphones? A more robust data plan? Scrimping on technology is a mistake. Make sure everyone on your team has exactly what they need to work smarter, not harder.
3. Clean out and organize the office supply cabinet, then give one person the key. Controlling access saves you money. Paper is expensive, so encourage your employees to print on both sides of the paper for internal printing. Ask everyone to dig deep into their purses and desk drawers for lost pens and pencils. Use ceramic mugs instead of paper or Styrofoam cups. Check out Zazzle.com or other sites that offer affordable custom printing. Invest in ceramic coffee mugs with your company logo and give them as gifts to your employees and best clients. (Be sure to put your website or phone number on one side.)
4. Provide healthy snacks and high-quality hot and cold beverages for breaks. Bloomberg LP is known for offering employees and guests an amazing selection of free fresh fruit, nuts, popcorn and a variety of tasty snacks. You may think you can’t afford to provide free food and drinks, but think of all the time and money your employees will save by not running out to the nearest convenience store. Sign up for a Costco or Sam’s Club membership and buy non-perishables in bulk. Ask employees what kinds of snacks they like before going shopping.
5. Send invoices out twice rather than once a month. Kings College finance professor Dawn Fotopulos shared this great idea. Billing clients twice a month keeps the cash flowing. It also has a positive psychological benefit because the amount paid by your clients or customers is smaller and it’s easier to write a check for a smaller amount.
6. If you don’t already, start asking for a deposit before filling any orders or starting a new project. Deposits help you sleep better at night as well as providing needed cash to cover operating expenses. Just about any kind of business can justify collecting a deposit. For example, if you want to book me to speak at an event and you are not already a client, I require a 50 percent deposit to hold the date. The balance is due on or before the day I appear.
7. Set up a debtor’s amnesty program. Review all your accounts receivable and offer deadbeats a five or 10 percent discount off the balance owed if they pay up within 48 hours. Consider negotiating a payment plan—collecting some money is better than nothing. And don’t continue to do business with people who don’t pay you. You are not a charity.
8. Offer recruitment bonuses to employees who bring in great new workers. Your employees have a vested interest in hiring great people since they’ll have to work with them. Write clear job descriptions to share internally before posting the job online. Before hiring anyone new, decide whether anyone on your team deserves a promotion or wants to switch jobs with a colleague. Bored or uninspired workers are a drain on your business.
9. Contact local, non-competitive businesses to see if they want to share the cost of a professional trainer. Upgrading and updating employee skills of any kind gives you a competitive edge.
10. Get out a calendar and ask people to sign up for their summer vacations. Planning ahead gives you time to cross-train employees to cover for each other. Plus, looking forward to a vacation boosts morale. Be sure to plan YOUR vacation as well. Business owners who don’t take time off burn out, and that hurts the business.