The following is a guest post by Heather Johnson. Her details are at the end of the article.
In order to maximize sales and improve marketing tactics, each small business must learn the fine art of bootstrapping. There are many ways to cut costs in order to leverage your assets. Some of these methods are complex and only gradually save money, which is fine if you have the luxury of waiting.
However, many businesses resort to bootstrapping out of urgent necessity and there are certainly ways to cut costs immediately. Below are eight bootstrapping tips that will show you quick results.
- Switch to VoIP – Many companies are saving thousands each year by using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) providers like Skype. All phone calls are free between Skype users around the world and Skype-to-landline calls are cheaper than traditional long distance services.
- Sell Your Unnecessary Frills – Did you get overexcited when you opened your office and purchase some unnecessary goods? If you need to free up some cash for more important ventures, then you can certainly do without your hip decorations. Sell them on eBay or Craigslist.
- Stop Faxing Everything – Are long distance costs rising because of your constant faxing? There are cheaper alternatives, such as scanning documents and emailing them. Most companies will have no problem with receiving a PDF instead of a fax.
- Go Easy on the Thermostat – Energy costs are hard on everyone these days, not just small business owners. While you don’t want to create a terrible work environment for your employees, there is nothing wrong with asking them to bundle up a bit in the winter and dress cooler in the summer. That way, you can be a bit more sensible with the thermostat.
- Outsource That Open Position – If you are struggling to cut costs, then the last thing you need to do is hire more employees. Outsourcing is a preferred method of saving money for companies both small and large. Sites like Elance and Get a Freelancer are brimming with eager, virtual assistants who will save you time and money.
- Buy Secondhand / Refurbished Goods – The fact is, you don’t need a new desk or copy machine. You can find secondhand office furniture at many stores, as well as refurbished electronics. Conduct some research beforehand, however, and make sure you are buying from a reputable source.
- Go Open Source – There are numerous open source alternatives to the commercial software you may be considering. In case you haven’t heard, open source = free. Free is good, so find out more about open source software at osalt.com.
Stop Paying for Lunch – Are you the type of boss who likes to buy lunch for everyone several times a week? That ends now if you want to leverage your assets to the max. Yes, even those pizza deliveries are adding up. For those of you who run a one-person operation, the same rule applies. Stop eating out and start packing your own lunch.
Great companies have been built with very little money and efficient bootstrapping skills. Don’t be afraid to start cutting costs on a smaller scale with the above tips. You will be surprised at how much money you will save… money that can be put toward marketing, for example.
Heather Johnson is a freelance business, finance and economics writer, as well as a regular contributor at Business Credit Cards, a site for business credit card and best business credit card offers. Heather welcomes comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
About a month ago I spoke at the Techshoret Conference for technical writers. Techshoret is an active mailing list for technical writers in Israel, but it includes many members from overseas as well. The people on the list are very supportive and helpful, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was one of the best email groups in the world for technical writers.
Techshoret holds an annual conference in Jerusalem, and I was invited to speak on the topic of Blogging and Social Media as Marketing Tools for Hi-Tech Companies since they decided to add some non-technical writing lectures to the mix.
My lecture covered case studies of businesses and their successes and failures in the blogosphere, and how the world of marketing is changing to the point where blogs and social media are a necessary part of today’s marketing strategy.
I promised the participants that I would upload my presentation, and here it is (finally)!
Hollywood on a Shoestring Budget
I am also including the great presentation given by Benjy Caplan who works at ECI Telecom. Benjy spoke about how to create great videos without being a professional videographer. His presentation was interesting because he explained how his company uses video as part of their user manuals. I think this is brilliant, because so many Israeli companies have overseas customers who don’t really speak English, and the best way to communicate in that situation is visually. In addition, his company saves the costs of sending technicians overseas to help clients by sending them help videos instead.
Benjy gave us one real example of how his company used a video to help clients in India install one of their products. The clients sent ECI a picture of their installation, which was a jumble of wires. Instead of sending technicians over to fix things up, Benjy produced an Oscar-worthy video with step-by-step visual instructions of where to put which wire.
With so many Israeli companies exporting overseas, I think many should learn from Benjy’s example and save themselves a lot of time and money by adding videos to their customer support services.