6 ways to save money this summer, in business and beyond
It’s no secret that we’re all feeling the pinch more than usual at the moment. The cost of living crisis, Brexit, geopolitical upheaval and the pandemic mean that as far as our wallets are concerned, things are (unsurprisingly) tough. As usual, small businesses are bearing more than their fair share of the problems, with limited government support to help us out. While it’s totally normal to feel stressed when the cost of living increases dramatically, let’s dive into some simple ways to cut costs this summer, in business and beyond.
1. Track what you earn – and what you spend
It might not be what you want to hear, but tracking every pound that comes into your business—and more importantly, everything you spend—is the first step to getting a better hold on your finances. This tip is a central part of Vicki Robin’s seminal financial guide, Your Money or Your Life, in which she suggests creating a monthly tabulation where you track your expenses to the penny. Robin’s theory is that the better we know our finances inside-out, the more likely we are to think carefully about our purchases. At the very least, you’ll end up with a clear overview of your financial situation, which is never a bad thing. Consider using tracking software like Xero (who currently have a 50% off deal!), or go DIY and create your own colour-coded spreadsheet.
2. Cut your business expenses
This is an obvious one: to save money in your work life, cut your business expenses. We’re all guilty of signing up to a shiny new online tool because we’ve heard someone talk about it on a podcast, but at the end of the day, how necessary is it? Go through everything you spend on business-related matters, like meeting rooms, office space, VAs, marketing agencies and scheduling software. Is there anything you can realistically do yourself? We’re not saying you should cut all business spending—and many costs actually help save us money in the long-run. Instead, get creative and figure out what you can do to reduce your monthly outgoings. If you currently hire a meeting room for your online workshops because it’s too noisy at home, ask around and see if you could borrow a friend’s spare room for an hour or two. Similarly, could you press pause on your office space and work from the local library for a few months? Everyone’s different, and your non-negotiable might be unimportant to someone else, so go through everything you spend on your business and work out what you would be happy going without.
3. Negotiate with providers
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. You’ll often find that if you give your internet provider, mobile phone company, or co-working space a ring and say you’re considering switching to another, they’ll magically be able to offer you a discount on your current deal. The same goes for insurance: salespeople often have some leeway in terms of the offer they can give you. You’ll have seen this if you’ve cancelled your subscription to a content scheduling platform, for example: usually, before you finalise the cancellation, you’ll be offered a whopping 50% off discount or similar to entice you to stay. It won’t always work, but it’s worth a try—you might end up saving £100s through some savvy negotiating.
4. Create a ‘want’ and a ‘need’ list
In the small business world, it’s easy to think you need a financial coach, a mindset coach, a confidence coach, 2 VAs, 3 interns, and VIP membership to an American guru’s content hub—costs that can easily add up to thousands of pounds each month. Targeted marketing can often make us feel like we’re missing out—or worse still, failing in business—if we’re not surrounded by all of these people. The truth is, you’ll need different types of support at different stages of your business journey, but it’s unlikely you need all of these people, right now. Get your head straight by writing a ‘want’ list and a ‘need’ list, and make sure you’re focusing on the near-term (let’s say the next 3 months). If you’ve got the funds available, by all means invest heaving in yourself in the coming year, but make sure you’re really focusing on what you and your business need—not what you’re being told you need. It’s a difficult distinction to make, especially with so many talented service providers around (hey, we’re massively proud of everyone in our community!), but for the sake of your finances, start by focusing on the support that will help supercharge your business. Tip: you can also create a ‘want’ and ‘need’ list for your personal expenditure, too.
5. Consider skill-swaps
Another great way of saving money is to identify a product or service you want, and instead of paying for it with money, you pay for it by offering your own product or service to the same person. It’s an alternative that works very well for small business owners, whose skills are often very ‘swappable’. Think outside the box a little, find someone who offers what you’re looking for, and send them a proposal. One memorable message I received was from Catch Rhys, a small jewellery business whose earrings I loved, asking if I’d be willing to swap a content strategy session for two pairs of their solid gold hoops. I wear them daily almost two years on, and I’m unlikely to have spent that money on earrings for myself, so it’s a massive win-win. You can try skill-swapping in your personal life, too. If you’ve got young kids or pets, consider swapping babysitting or dog-sitting with another local family, so that every other week or month, you’ve got a night out without worrying about paying someone to watch your children (or fur children).
6. … and thing-swaps
The same idea applies to most things you’d otherwise buy—the trick is to get creative! Clothes, children’s school uniform items and even homes can be swapped, if you find the right people to exchange with. Next time you’d like to take a trip to a different part of the country, sign up to a house-swap website and see if anyone’s looking to stay in your local area. If you’re an avid reader and don’t have a library nearby, trades with others who have a similar taste in books to you can work nicely. Finally, if you feel more creative working outside of your home but don’t want to splurge on an office space, consider teaming up with another remote-working friend, and spend a couple of mornings or afternoons a week working at each other’s home. You’ll get the change of scene you’re craving, without the eye-wincing price tag. The options are endless, and you don’t have to feel like you’re cutting all of the joy out of your life in order to save money. Be proactive, get inventive, and experiment with cost-cutting tricks that work for you and your family.
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