If you ask a small business what’s one of the most difficult operational tasks needed to be dealt with, staying on budget with monthly expenses will likely be a top contender, especially in these challenging economic times. And chances are your business faces the same obstacle every month.
It seems every time you turn around, there is another expense, a delay in payment, or some other circumstance that has a negative effect on your cash flow. So instead of putting a little something away for an even rainier day, you find yourself sweating it out until it’s time to flip to the next page of the monthly calendar for a fresh influx of cash.
If you want to make the money and the month line up better, you may need to rethink some of your business assumptions – including what constitutes a must-have expense. Following are a few ideas that can help improve your overall cash flow.
Get rid of your business land line – According to CTIA -The Wireless Association, 23 percent of US households are wireless, meaning they no longer have a traditional landline phone. One of the driving forces behind this epidemic is the desire to cut costs, especially in today’s down economy. You might think what works for households won’t work for your small business. But, there are simple technologies available today like virtual phone services for small business that will help your company run more efficiently than it would through the use of a landline. With a virtual phone service, you receive your choice of a toll-free or local phone number that goes to a phone you already have. It allows you to assign extensions to all your employees, whether they are in the office or virtual. When customers and prospects call your my1voice business number, the service’s virtual receptionist allows them to select the extension they need. The call is then forwarded to that person’s mobile. Your mobile number still works independently too, so any incoming personal calls will still be routed directly to you. Virtual phone services for small business provide all those big-business capabilities while costing as little as $10 per month. Compare that to just the base cost of a landline for your business and the savings are worth noting. But add in the cost to maintain the lines, taxes and the cost to purchase and maintain telephone equipment and the savings add up quickly.
Take your office virtual – Office space is usually one of the highest fixed costs a small business has. While it’s nice to have an office where everyone can gather and work more collegially, if you’re looking to reduce expenses, taking your landlord off the payroll is a good way to do it. Of course, sometimes you do need a formal office – particularly if you need a place to meet with customers. If you can’t travel to your customer, you can always look into renting a common conference room area from a local business and have your customers come directly to you. Even then, a virtual office strategy helps you keep that expense to a minimum, freeing up more cash for other aspects of the business that have more impact on your success.
Eliminate specialty or limited-use business tools – Look around your office, or through the applications on your desktop computer. How many things do you own that have only one function? Can that function be performed by something else? A fax machine is a good example of a piece of office equipment that is only capable of performing one task. All it does is send and receive faxes. Yet there it sits, costing you money for a dedicated phone line, paper, toner, even the power to keep it running and ready to receive an incoming fax. You can eliminate almost all of those additional costs that are making your small business go over budget by moving to an Internet fax service that allows you to send and receive faxes on your PC or mobile phone. When it comes down to the software you are using to run your small business, consider a pay-as-you or Web-based service model. With this model you pay a small monthly fee rather than buying the software up-front at a cost that is certain to make you go over your company’s monthly budget. You then gain access to feature-laden applications that have the sophisticated capabilities normally found only in expensive software packages.
Let’s face it. While operating a small business is challenging even in good times, it can be particularly difficult when the economy is taking a beating. But with a little creativity and some unconventional thinking, you can help ensure the month runs out before the money does.
About the Author:
Kevin Baker is the Product Marketing Manager for my1voice, the cost-effective, feature-rich virtual phone service for small business. my1voice is a part of a suite of services from Protus, provider of the highest quality Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) communication tools for small-to-medium businesses (SMB) and enterprise organizations, including the award-winning MyFax, the fastest growing Internet fax service and Campaigner, an email marketing solution with advanced automation features. Kevin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.