If you think about it, running your home accounts and your business accounts shouldn’t be that much different – you want the best services at the best prices, but how do you get that? Research, research and more research!
I’ve made mistakes in the last two years when choosing providers i.e. web and email hosting but as I’ve learnt more about what I needed from the service I’ve been able to research and find the right one for me. I’ve also been able to use my wide network of contacts on platforms such as Twitter to ask for recommendations – in fact, that was recently the way I found my new cloud drive and email hosting provider!
You can’t control costs if you don’t know what costs you have, and this is where a spreadsheet comes in handy. Regardless of the size of your business, having current and up to date lists of your suppliers and outgoings will help enormously. By having this information to hand will enable you to review your expenditure on a regular basis.
My top tips for controlling costs would be:
- Have a record (it doesn’t have to be a spreadsheet!) of all your current costs. If you have contracts for items such as phones or equipment it’s always handy to have a note of the date the contract expires, so you can start your research for new deals a month or so before
- Make the most of free trials on products and services so you can see how they works for you and your business – just make sure you cancel the subscription payment if you don’t want to go ahead at the end of the free trial!
- When researching new suppliers/products have a ‘wish list’ of your requirements, and get at least 3 quotes so you can compare prices and options
- Ask other business contacts for recommendations of products or services you may need or are looking to review
- The cheapest option may not necessarily the best for your bank balance – it may cost more in the long run if the product or service doesn’t meet your requirements
- Build good relationships with your suppliers – if you pay invoices on time and work proactively with them, they’re more likely to be open to negotiations. Always keep lines of communication open though if you’re ever struggling with payments
- Don’t stick your head in the sand when it comes to costs – get up front and friendly with them! All businesses have costs, and even as a sole trader I have set amount I need to earn each month to cover costs before the business starts ‘earning’ money. If you know your ‘break even’ figure it can help you focus on the necessities or areas you could cut back in
Whatever your business, being in control and understanding your costs could be the making of you!
What do you think of Stacey’s tips? And do you have any more of your own? We’d love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below.