Sunday, 6 July 2014

7 Tips for Reducing Your Overhead Costs

If you are self-employed or own a small business, you know all too well that out-of-control overhead costs can be crippling. Operating costs are a necessary evil– you need to spend money to make money, after all. But for businesses trying to weather tough economic conditions, or for start-ups just trying to break even, one month with too much overhead can be the kiss of death.

Overhead can include expenses like rent, utilities, office supplies, and advertising. And while all these expenses seem pretty normal, it doesn’t mean they are necessary. If you’re serious about cutting costs without cutting corners, the following tips can help reduce overhead in your business.

1. Go Paperless

This should be pretty obvious by now, but going paperless is a great way for a business to decrease both clutter and expenditures. You can store important documents in the cloud or on disks, sign all contracts electronically, and help save the environment as an added bonus.

You won’t have to pay for paper or ink cartridges. You can sell your printer on Craigslist. And if you back up all your paper files digitally, you might even be able to downgrade to a smaller (and cheaper) office space, saving even more money each month.

2. Splurge on an Accountant

It may seem counterintuitive to shell out big bucks for an accountant or tax service professional to do your bookkeeping. After all, these people generally charge a lot of money for their services. But if you have someone at say, H&R Block look over your taxes this April, the company’s policy is to pay any penalties or interest caused by an error on their part.

Best of all, tax and accounting professionals will be more likely to find deductions that you might have overlooked. It’s a big investment, especially for a small business. But it’s an investment worth making. You can’t put a price on peace of mind.

3. Evaluate Your Needs

Look around your office. Now, ask yourself, “What do I see here that I don’t use every day?”

Do you really need business cards in an age where you maintain a web site, a Twitter profile, and a Facebook page? How much are you paying for “premium” web hosting each month?

You shouldn’t be paying for anything you don’t need, whether it’s office equipment, supplies, or space. Which brings me to my next point…

4. Find the Perfect Space

Is your office currently in a location that makes good financial sense? Do you need to maintain a downtown storefront, or would you be better served by working from a smaller office? Do you even need an office/studio space? Could you work from home instead? How often do you need to interact with clients face-to-face?

The answers to those questions will vary depending on your industry, the size of your company, and your financial outlook for 2011. By securing a space that really suits your business, you will likely save time and be more productive.

5. Ditch Your Phone

There’s no reason you need to pay through the nose for phone service. Not in this day and age.

Again, how much you can cut back depends on the size of your company, how many employees you have, and what industry you are in. Between Skype and Google Voice, paying for phone calls and voicemail is a thing of the past, though you may still need to pay some money for international calling. Both services also have mobile apps, meaning you can stay connected on the go.

And if you need a “traditional” land line, consider VOIP over the standard offerings from phone companies in your area.

6. Make Smart Hiring Decisions

If you have to hire a new employee, hire someone who has multiple strengths. They don’t need to have a degree in Computer Science, but if your new sales rep also knows how to check your TCP/IP settings and craft press releases, that’s a huge plus. Investing in professional development for your employees is another way to keep them happy and promote long-term growth and success for your company.

7. Develop Brand Ambassadors

Advertising is expensive, and can’t guarantee consistent or impressive results. You might pay a couple hundred dollars to run a TV, radio, or print ad in your area, only to find that you drum up very little business.

A smarter idea is to get your clients to become brand ambassadors. Offer your current clients and customers incentives for talking you up, and for referring new business to you. Word-of-mouth is still a persuasive tool in our digital age, and one that people tend to take for granted. Get satisfied customers to tweet about you for discounted services, or offer current customers free services for every new client they refer to you.

The Bottom Line

It’s almost impossible to run a business without some overhead. But these operating costs can be minimized or eliminated in many cases, leaving you with more profits in your pockets. A business with streamlined operating expenses will have the best possible chance for success, so make sure you’re running a tight ship.

How small businesses can grow using low-cost technology

There is no question that getting a handle on modern technology is key for most small business owners looking to grow. With so much competition out there it's important to keep ahead of the game when it comes to innovation and know which areas are worth investing in.

However, small business owners are not all necessarily tech whizzes, and a huge variety of options make it difficult to work out what the best options are. Should you move your customer services to the cloud? Invest in creating an app? Focus your marketing energy on social media? And crucially, what are the best ways to ensure you're getting a good deal on your technology?
One of the main areas which has been creating a buzz in small business for a few years now is the use of cloud-based CRM (customer relationship management) tools. One business which has benefitted hugely from implementing CRM is Koozai, a digital marketing agency. Robert Barrett, the managing director, explained how this technology has been instrumental to the company's growth.

"We started out with a more expensive, well-known brand before moving to a platform which worked better for us. Not only is it more cost-effective on a monthly basis, but it's a lot more user-friendly and it saves on time and training for our staff," he said. "Just a few years ago a CRM system could set you back tens of thousands of pounds, whereas now you can get great software for just £20 per month, and add features as and when you need them."

Another small digital agency which implemented a similar strategy is Cyber-Duck, which uses software provided by another SME, Zendesk, to manage their CRM.

Sylvain Reiter, the development director, explained why they implemented this system: "When we first started out we had only five or six clients, so it was easy to keep on top of what everyone was doing. As we got bigger we started to realise we needed to put systems in place to ensure we were providing a good service and keeping our operation efficient."

Both companies agree that when it comes to moving to the cloud, cost is key, but it's also crucial to give your staff good training and ensure you select a package which is easy to scale as your business grows.

Explore the options you have available to you

What happens when an entrepreneur realises there's a specific form of technology which could help their business grow, but can't afford to invest the capital? Rob O'Malley, founder of, decided he wanted to build an app which would help him keep in contact with customers and position himself as an industry leader.

He found out about a series of free workshops delivered by the Technology and Innovation Futures West Midlands project run by Coventry University Enterprises and decided to attend. Straight away, he was able to understand exactly what he wanted from the app, and begin building it himself.

"Not counting the cost of my time, the whole thing cost only around £150 to build from start to finish," he said. "There's no way I'd be where I am if I'd had to outsource – I'd probably still be in the early stages and thousands of pounds down."
Dominic Hiatt had already launched one PR company when he started Just In Time PR, but this time he decided to ditch the marketing agencies and use social media to promote his business. Without the budget to pay for ads on the side of a bus or promoted results on Google, he relied on Twitter to get the word out.

"Twitter has given us around 80% of our sign-ups and, most importantly, regular clients. It works because you're introducing your business to people without interrupting them and hard selling. You can build exceptionally lucrative relationships through Twitter if you have the patience to look at it as a long-term play," he said.

Although free, using Twitter requires a heavy investment of time and energy, as posts will need to be interesting, entertaining and informative, driving potential clients in your direction without sounding like you're constantly trying to sell your product or service.

"You can't be purely commercial when on social [media]" says Hiatt. "If people sense that you're only there on the off-chance you'll make money out of them down the line, you'll get nowhere. A lot of businesses are selling on Twitter but you need to be authentic and transparent in the way you do so."
Rachael Naylor is a voiceover artist, and like many freelancers and small business owners, she finds it hard to ensure her invoices get paid on time. In addition, working with several different clients a week means invoicing can be a lengthy process. After doing some research, she came across, a scan-to-pay app that allows you to scan a QR code with your smartphone either online or by paper, and instantly transfers money from one person to another.

"I think QR codes are being overlooked," says Naylor. "This technology allows me to speed up my invoicing and makes it easier for myself and my clients."

Taking the time to find out what options are available is important, but small businesses shouldn't be drawn to technology just because it's free, as there are often low-cost alternatives that will be more appropriate and save time in the long run.

"There are so many cool payment apps that are free and easy to use but are not appropriate in a small business capacity," she said. "My advice for other small businesses who are seeing what's out there in terms of technology investment would be to think about what will work for them as well as their client base."

Content commissioned by Guardian Professional on behalf of FedEx Express. - Copyright Guardian

Sunday, 29 June 2014

How to Grow Your Business By Hiring Freelancers

When thinking about how to grow your business, today’s small business owner has many options and one of them should be hiring freelancers or independent contractors. Supplementing your in-house work force with independent contractors can boost your business in many ways. Depending on your unique business, freelancers can create excitement in your team and enhance your business’s skill-set. How could your business benefit from partnering with freelancers?

1) You won’t take on additional hiring costs like payroll taxes, insurance or benefits packages. If you see the business relationship won’t work, there’s no commitment to continue. Freelancers work according to their contract.

2) Your business will reap the benefits of the skills you need, without the commitment of hiring. Need someone who has experience with high-tech software or new machinery? Bring in a freelancer to train your staff.

3) Managers can create excitement in the business by bringing on experts temporarily. When you bring in a pro, people get excited. Encourage your employees to learn all they can from the freelance expert you hire. Schedule times for your team to pick the brain of the expert freelancer.

4) Bring in another viewpoint and gain more expertise on a subject. Experienced freelancers have tons of knowledge they are willing to share. Tackle a persistent problem with a fresh set of eyes. It’s never a bad idea to get another point of view.

5) Most freelancers work flexible hours. This means your business could be open for longer hours; providing more benefits to your customers.

6) Unlike a temp hire, freelancers can be contacted directly when questions arise. The professional freelancer expects to answer queries and assist you when needed.

Freelancers love a project! Whether your company is beginning a new project or working to finish one, independent contractors are the power-packed team you need to get the job done. They live for projects!
Remember, running a business successfully does not need to be complicated.  Keep it simple! - Portal CFO blog

5 Money Saving Tips for Running a Small Business

No matter what you are selling whether a product or a service if you let you costs spiral out of control you can quickly find your small business in financial difficulty.

Here are top tips to make sure that doesn’t happen to you:


Across the country people are struggling with high energy costs at home. High energy costs are also hurting businesses too. In fact, the Carbon Trust estimates that for many businesses, a 20% saving in energy costs would have the same effect on the bottom line as a 5% increase in sales.

Here are some simple methods that you can use to start saving on energy costs:

Take out inefficient light bulbs and replace them with compact fluorescent bulbs which use up to 75% less energy than standard light bulbs!
Put your computer on standby when not being used. Over the course of a year a computer will cost about £50 a year if they are on 24 hours a day. By simply putting your computer on standby or switching it off at night could reduce the yearly cost to around £15
And of course, for cheaper diesel and petrol for your business, The Buying Power could save you as much as 10p per litre.
For more energy saving tips go here.


When the country went into recession the government realized one of the best ways to grow the economy was through small business. Because if this depending on where your business is you may be eligible for an interest free loan or an outright grant from the government called the regional growth fund which is a £3.2bn initiative which is running until 2017

The odds of getting a grant are good too. Almost 40% of applicants were selected to receive the funding during the latest round. If you’re in your first year of business you may also quality for certain tax breaks.

You can find more on the RGF and tax breaks here and here.


Its estimated that the average cost to have a desk in an office is £5700 in the UK. Allowing your staff to hot desk and to work from home can save a considerable amount of money. A recent study into a firm from Stanford indicated that performance in the firm increased by 22% when a voluntary work from home programme was introduced .


Focus on your core elements as a business and what you’re good at and outsource the rest to another company that does that element as their core business. For example by contracting an external agency to deal with accounts payable could cut costs by between 20 & 40%


We know the list of tasks facing SME management can be daunting. This ranges from running the day-to-day business to client liaison, staffing decisions and new business development. However, while cost optimisation is a mundane process, it can save your business significant money.

The key to managing costs effectively is to be proactive, rather than reactive, and make periodic cost review part of your business cycle. Consider addressing cost items more frequently than at year end; a comparison of this month’s costs with the average of the previous six months will yield early warning of potential problems and allow you to nip the issue in the bud. (Post Credit: Martin, Small Biz Bee)

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Important Energy Saving Techniques to Lower Business Energy Costs

When you step in to the business world, there are many factors which start worrying you. One of those obvious factors is costs. Whether it is rental space, employee salaries, office equipment or product budget, all these costs have a huge impact on your cash reserves. But what about the other hidden expenses that we rarely notice? The cost of electricity, water, hydro and gas energy over a long period of time start draining your cash reserves without you noticing it. By assessing the functioning of your company and the requirements of your employees you can formulate a strategy to reduce energy costs considerably. Constant energy uses tend to emit additional carbon to the environment and create a negative impact as well.

Energy Saving Techniques for Business 
You need to begin reducing your energy costs by noticing small things about your office where most of the energy goes to waste. For this, you can also check Bizcostsavers B2B marketplace to connect with vendors providing solutions for energy saving for your business. Work with your employees and other staff members to adapt the following changes in to your daily office routine and watch how much your cost margin decreases over time: 

  • Begin by switching your carbon inducing normal light bulbs to CFLs. Fluorescent light bulbs consume much lesser power and run for a longer time. They use up to 75% lesser energy than normal light bulbs. Make sure to switch of these lights when not in use. 
  • Turn your computers in to hibernation mode rather than leaving it on throughout the night. This mode consumes much lesser power and makes sure to save your work until you use it again. 
  • Only print what you require in case it is absolutely necessary and unavoidable. Printing lesser will help you reduce the energy used to print. At the same time make sure you do not overuse paper. You may use both sides of the paper to print when necessary instead of wasting it.
  • Buy energy efficient appliance for your office. Though you may have to initially invest more, in the long run you will saving much more money than you actually spend on them. 
  • When not in use switch off all your power using machines such as air conditioners, microwaves, lights, computers and so on. Especially when you leave the office make sure all these machines have been turned off.
  • Install solar panels for free, clean and a renewable source of energy. They tend to last longer and considerably have fewer maintenance issues. 
  • Plant a lot of plants and tree outside your office for shade and protection from scorching heat. This will reduce your necessity to use air conditioners since the trees will provide enough shade for cool winds and reduced temperatures. 
  • At least once in a week allow your employees to work from home. This will ensure that you save one day’s energy and also allow your employees to work flexibly from their home. 
  • Educate and encourage your employees to work on ways to save energy in the office. Built in efforts will ensure that your company conserves sufficient energy on a long term basis. 
  • Promote good energy practices with your employees. Conduct brainstorming activities for all employees to come with ways of conserving energy costs.  

By adopting these essential tips, you will able to see a major reduction in your electricity bills over time. Though initially there may not be much of a difference it will definitely change course over time and make you and your employees feel wonderful about protecting your environment. Such steps can truly motivate your employees and increase your business value. 

Friday, 6 June 2014

Effective Money Management Tips for SMEs

A successful business doesn't just require a good business idea but it also needs to have efficient money management skills. This is especially important for small and medium size enterprises as they require constant growth in this vast corporate world. Knowing something and doing something are two different things, therefore you must always remember that the key to success lies in your hand which is only effective with money management in business.

So the first question to ask yourself is ‘Where do you start from’? In case you find yourself confused and run out of solutions, the best option is to consult professional guidance. At Bizcostsavers B2B Marketplace, our goal is to help all SMEs construct and adapt efficient solutions to reduce your costs and manage your funds well through our online business listings, community forums and resource materials. Here are a few pointers which can help you start:

Reduce Labour Costs

One of the biggest costs you will incur is undoubtedly related to labor. Instead go for alternative solutions such as outsourcing and hiring interns. When you outsource you avoid paying as much as you would to a full time employee. When you outsource, you employ a person for a short term project for limited pay. This will also allow you to obtain specialized services from the person you outsource the job to. The other option which is hiring interns can be very beneficial too. Interns require experience while you just need to get the work done therefore there is no cost included in this equation.

Shared Offices

Infrastructure can be very expensive for small and medium size businesses, which have tight budgets. With shared offices you can enjoy the benefits of shared rent, networking and obtaining potential clients or investors. In terms of cost you will be sharing it with other offices and enjoying all amenities such as conference rooms and cubicles. Along with management of money you will also be enjoying added benefits that will help enhance the growth of your company.

Save Resources

Reduce your bills by adapting the green initiative. In your office you can reduce consumption of paper and electricity bills as well. Buy CFC bulbs for lighting and install solar panels to reduce your bills. Apart from this you can utilize used office furniture instead of spending a large amount on new furniture. You might think that used furniture will look bad to your clients but that’s not the case. There are many stores and warehouses that have used furniture in great condition for use. Imagine the huge cut in costs just by opting for these small solutions.


If you are looking for a harmonious as well as a cost effective solution, then bartering is the answer for you. In this age old but effective method, you exchange services instead of cash with another company. Basically both companies will perform services for each other instead of dealing with cash. Such a move will help you network and socialize more with companies from different sectors. 

By using these few solutions you can be ensured of the fact that your money management skills are on the right track. So don’t waste any more of your precious funds, consult us for some constructive alternatives today!