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?
- Need 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.
- Do 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.
- Telephone 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.
- I 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.
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