I am a true entrepreneur at heart.  I have been running businesses since I was little.  It is just something that comes to me.  My most successful business was as an electronics retailer.  I had an e-commerce company that I built from the ground up and loved it.  It was tough work, but it was rewarding.  As the sole owner and operator, I had to make sure that I make the best choices for services.  I had to fill my office with the right equipment, use the right providers for my communications, along with the best partners.  Everything I did was to save money, but still provide a great service.

If you are a small business owner and need to cut some costs without sacrificing quality, then let me provide you with a few tips for your everyday services.  I have scoured the web to find services that work really well for small business owners trying to buck the ordinary.  I did it regularly, so we can’t you?

  • printer inkNeed Printer Ink?  When you run a business, you will probably be drowning in papers.  I printed out everything because I needed to keep a record of each sale, refund, shipment, etc.  My desk was constantly filled with papers (I could have used some better organization).  With all of that paperwork, I was always in need of printer ink.  After months of printing out papers and buying expensive ink, I realized that I could just purchase re-manufactured/refilled ink cartridges from companies like Phoenix Direct.  This easy step saved me hundreds of dollars over the years.  If you don’t like inkjet printers, then go with a laser printer.
  • fax machineDo you still fax?  There are still companies out there that require you to fax documents to them.  I hate the fax machine and wish it would go the way of the VCR.  I don’t think they are necessary anymore, but when you have distributors, they want what they want.  There are some great services out there that don’t require you to get a real second phone line and pay outrageous fees to a telecom company.  My recommendations are eFax and MyFax.  They are both awesome services that I have used (not at the same time).  You can get a “virtual” fax number and only pay about $10 a month for it.  It is much better than paying $40 – $70 for a second line and a fax machine.  You can get faxes delivered right to email and you can fax PDF documents.  No fax machine required.
  • business telephone systemTelephone Service is necessary.  With any company, you need a viable way for your customers to contact you.  There was no way I would ever publish my cell phone number on my website because that would kill my minutes.  I also didn’t want customers all over the country calling and getting my homemade answering message.  It just isn’t professional.  In order to combat this and to save money, I went with a company called Grasshopper.  This is a virtual telephone number and answering service dedicated to the entrepreneur.  It is relatively cheap and just portrays professionalism.  Companies like Grasshopper and Phone.com provide you with a toll-free number with unlimited extensions.  You can make it seem that your business is much bigger than people think.  I created a few “departments” and the main number had a professional recorded message.  It was well worth the cost and much cheaper than a regular telephone system with different lines.
  • data backup and restoreI hope you backup your data.  Any business should backup their data.  Many people still backup their important files to an external hard drive or USB thumb drive.  While this is an easy way to do it, it is not reliable.  Most people and business owners should always have some sort of data backup.  You need to have your important files available to you at all times.  The peace of mind alone is worth thousands.  After I lost about 3 hard drives on my computer, I decided to go with an automated backup service like Mozy or Carbonite.  Both offer automated backups of your files to their secure offline servers.  It costs about $50 per year depending on your requirement and you can recover your files at any time.  If you don’t backup your data, then check out these services.

While there are many ways to cut costs when you are running a business, you need to make sure that you stay professional.  Running a business is about image and service.  If you sacrifice both of those, then you won’t have a very successful business.  If you use traditional means to run your business, then think outside of the box and enjoy the plethora of services that are now entirely online.  Find a service that fits with your business plan and start saving money.

What service or tip would you have for a small business owner trying to cut costs without sacrificing their service or quality.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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  1. Good article. BTW – we hated our last printer so much that Holly actually got rid of it. Now I am printer-less. Any recommendation on a good one?

    1. I have always had good luck with HP printers. If you want to have the ability to just change out the color ink that you need, then Epson printers have 4 ink cartridges of the corresponding colors, which tends to be cheaper. I have two, one HP and one Epson and both have been working for years.

      1. I hate my current Epson. It seems to drink ink much faster than my old HP did. Next time we get a good printer it’ll be HP for sure.

        1. Which Epson do you have Justin? I have had a few and they all performed just as well as the HP. I do enjoy the HP printers though.

  2. Mini rant but I can’t believe we haven’t moved past faxing. You can password-protect pdf documents, yet companies want you to “secure fax” things to them that will print at a printer that many people have access to. Unbelievable!

    1. I am with you on the rant DC. I hate fax machines and think faxing should just die out already. Many people don’t know about the security of email and protected PDF’s, so they are just scared.

  3. I hate having to use a fax, it seems like such a poor choice of communication. Fortunately we have a tool at work that converts pdfs or word docs into an electronic fax which a server then dials out for us. I think the tool is called rightfax from memory.

    1. I have been using online services for my faxes. I don’t fax regularly, so now I just use free services just to fax about once a year.

  4. Good tips! I absolutely HATE having to deal with printer ink! We’ve had ours re-filled and it never seems to work. We actually just bought a laser printer last week hoping we can get buy without spending way too much money on ink.

  5. Grayson, when I ran an ecommerce venture I had to fax from time to time. pesky distributors. I used the local grocery instead of buying a machine because I faxed less than 20 times a year. It seemed about as secure as sending a fax for any number of people to see anyway since I watched the clerk send it. The fees are also tax deductible.

    1. Awesome tip Jerry. Using someone else’s fax machine is also good. I had to have a number because my distributors would only send me some communication via fax, so I had to have some sort of setup. I think your tip works out quite well for those that don’t need a fax number.

  6. I’m a big believer in offsite backups. A few months back someone recommended CrashPlan to me, and I’ve really liked the service. Although I’m sure Mozy and Carbonite are great, too. Whatever it takes to make sure your data doesn’t disappear forever with a single drive crash!

    1. I am as well Mark. Thanks for stopping by the blog by the way. I have seen you around, so welcome. I didn’t learn my lesson the first few times I lost my hard drive, so now I feel much better. Thanks for the recommendation on CrashPlan.

  7. Great tips, Grayson. It seems so outdated to fax, but I still have to do it for work too. Thanks for the tips on ink cartridges. It something we definitely go through fast and would love to lower those costs in the office if we could.

    1. You are most welcome Shannon. My wife faxes all the time at her job and we were talking about it over the weekend. It seems so crazy to me. It is like someone saying that they still will only use VCR because they are afraid of the new DVD technology.

  8. Great tips! I despise fax machines as well…I always seem to jam them, send them to the wrong place or get disconnected. I’m always shocked when someone wants to fax/send a fax–it seems so antiquated now!

  9. I don’t get why people still fax but have needed to send faxes on more than one occasion and the sites you mention are great. Also, if you need more time to do your job well, a VA can be worth hiring to cut on the basic admin work you take on.

    1. Quality point on the virtual assistant Pauline. They can be of a great service and it costs a lot less than hiring someone to work full time.

  10. Backing up data can be a big deal. It may seem like one of those things that one could get away with not doing, but the hassles and pain of losing data can be great. It can be a good investment of a modest amount of money.

  11. I refill my own printers with ink or toner. They are remarkably easy to refill, My color laser takes me about 20 minutes to refill all of the cartridges. You would be amazed at how much you can save by taking this on yourself.

  12. When I worked in mortgages we used the fax machine a lot to send documents through to lenders at the last minute. I don’t know if things have changed now but I think a lot of businesses still use them. Great tips Grayson.

  13. Hi Grayson! Thanks for shared valuable information. Yes, that’s very important to use best service with low cost. I am using intranet service that’s very useful for transfer internal file without using internet that’s save lots of money and we are using offline MS add-in & HP deskjet both are really good and low saving as well.