The profitable business owner knows that an office is one of their most significant assets. The office is where everyone goes to work if they want to work efficiently. The office houses the engine – human capital — that powers the business.
The good news is that the office is mostly a fixed cost. Rent, utilities, internet, taxes are costs that all add up quickly. However, these costs are mostly predictable from year to year.
The lean business is always looking for places to cut costs without hurting productivity. These “fixed costs” are a great place to begin our cost-cutting endeavor. The amount saved each month might be small, but it adds up nicely over the course of a year.
Here are several steps to cut thousands from your yearly expenses.
You are fifteen minutes away from finding a lower rate. Just get on the phone with your providers and see if they have ways that you can save money. Sometimes the internet provider needs a phone call to add a two-year promotion added to your account. Even the Utility company might be willing to offer you a discount in exchange for prepaying.
Internet access, phone lines, and insurance are all the top ones to look at for negotiating.
An often-overlooked area is business software. Often those software licenses can be renegotiated. Additionally, if you aren’t using all of your current licensing spots, it makes sense to relinquish the remaining spots to save money.
Zachary Drumm of ToolTally.com says that software costs are one of the most significant costs of a digital company; “The monthly costs really sneak up on you if you don’t sit down and look at your numbers every month.”
Every entrepreneur knows how hard it is to stay focused. Having some redundancy is good. For example, if all of your sales are made through the Amazon platform, it probably makes sense to try to develop one or two additional sales channels through SEO and Google ads.
But the temptation is to go too far and to try to develop too many channels at once. This eagerness to develop new sales channels creates an office that is spread thinly across multiple initiatives. As a result, no one initiative moves forward at full force.
A better strategy is to identify the primary company initiative and two secondary initiatives. With the entire office focused on three actions, it is possible to keep the business running at the fastest reasonable pace towards growth with some a little bit of focus also used to develop the safety net that secondary sales channels bring.
Once the company is focused, release all of the other assets and expenses onto which the company was holding. All too often, businesses are held down by renting too much space into which they are “one day” going to grow. Or they are leasing software that is only being used by one individual while they are paying for a license that allows for three.
Cut those costs aggressively, knowing that you can always scale back up into the costs once the business growth justifies it.
Increase Employee Productivity
Most employees live their lives in a completely distracted state. They are always a few clicks away from Facebook and Instagram, and the mental switching costs between social media and their day job mean that the boss only gets about 50% of the work that they are paying for.
The first thing to do is to explain the damage that these social apps are inflicting on the business. Then train them on the mental effects of these applications and how “mental switching costs” are a real thing that cost the company money.
Finally, implement changes. Time tracking apps can monitor computer use and productivity. Vigilant managers can help encourage employees to more productivity.
That balance between productivity and a burn out is always a hard line to walk. But when tied to benefits such as pay increases, bonuses and shorter work days, most employees are happy to up their game.
Don’t Over Hire
Often it is tempting to hire too much staff. The current staff feels over-worked, and so new staff is brought in.
The first step should always be to work alongside the staff and make sure that the current workflows are essential and expedient. Only once the existing workflows have been optimized, and there is no other way to increase the company’s output, should new employees be hired.
If you need talents that are outside of your firm’s capabilities, look to places like Fiverr and Upwork to see if the talent is available. It is quite possible to hire the right team members on a per-piece basis, further saving money on what would otherwise be a recurring payroll.
Get Energy Efficient
There are so many great ways to reduce your utility costs. Smart thermostats can reduce the heat or air conditioning at night, and bring it back up during the peak working hours. A smart thermometer can pay for itself in one season.
Another strategy that is “old-school” but effective is having a “closer” who walks through and shuts off all of the lights and small electrical appliances before they leave for the night is an excellent way to reduce electricity costs.
If you are in an older building, speak with the landlord about splitting the costs on more energy-efficient insulation. New insulation – especially in the ceiling — can make all of the difference when it comes to the monthly bill.
Finally, switching to all LED lighting can also save on the monthly utility bill. LED lights cost a list bit to purchase, but they last for years. Additionally, they don’t heat a room quite as much in the summertime, which reduces air conditioning costs.
Get Employee Input
Often we see “business management” as separate from the life of the employees. However, employees can be very astute at detecting where waste is occurring.
Enlisting your employees helping to identify and eliminate waste can not only help you generate more savings but also inspire their buy-in. Asking your employees for their ideas gives you the best tool of all – your human capital!