Office expenses are insidious creatures, with a habit of gobbling up more of your revenue than they’re allowed. Left unchecked, they’ll multiply every month and devour your profits. Here are some creative tips to keep office expenses under your control.
Spend On What The Customer Sees
A polished desk and credenza matter a great deal if you’re an attorney who greets a lot of high-powered clients. The same furnishings are a complete waste of money if your business is primarily web-based. Customers probably don’t see the area where you store your office supplies, either, and won’t know you’ve used discount shelving racks from Home Depot. Of course, you want a pleasant work environment, but reserve most of your capital for the parts of your business that matter to clients.
Watch Your Ego
Ego is a trap for many entrepreneurs. Examine your desire to adopt the latest technology, add metallic ink to your packaging, buy luxe signage or stationary, attend the latest industry conference, or add posh decor to your lobby. Balance your corporate image against your personal pride. A good fiscal strategy is to constantly ask yourself “Does this matter to my clients? Will this generate revenue? Or am I feeding my ego?”
Barter For Services
It’s difficult to trade for hard goods or utilities, but many businesses barter locally for services like office cleaning or personal assisting. Creative barter can also bring in perks for staff, ranging from chair massages and theater tickets to company days at the ballpark. Trade at face value, dollar for dollar, and don’t get carried away with the adventure of barter. Limit your trades to things you would have considered buying with hard cash.
Keep Comparing Prices
You can nearly always buy paper, toner cartridges, envelopes, and printing services much cheaper online than at your local office supply store. Shop websites like Quill.com or GotPrint, and you might be shocked to learn how much you’re overspending. Use Google’s shopping search engine to check pricing on things you buy often.
Question The Need For New Staff
Employee costs go beyond salary and benefits. Consider the need for office space, furniture, equipment, management time, and software licensing. Consider how many staff members you can add before you’ll need more space, supervisory personnel, and HR staff. Could this task be absorbed by existing staff, performed by temps you might bring in periodically, or outsourced to an expert who could do the work in less than 40 hours per week?
Bring Work In-House
On the other hand, you may be paying for professional services that could be done in-house more affordably. If your website is mostly a billboard for your brick-and-mortar business, you don’t need to pay for a custom website. Send your marketing director to a WordPress seminar instead and create a simple, attractive site you can update yourselves. Look into online accounting services like Sage that make it easy for your staff to manage bookkeeping and invoicing tasks in-house.
Challenge yourself and your employees to keep office expenses within your budget, and perform regular line-item checkups to keep them under your control.