As a business owner, all expenses fall onto your shoulders, from health insurance to taxes. That means you have to take advantage of every opportunity to save money. Luckily, there are many small ways to cut back, stay on top of cash flow, and get what you need with a smaller budget.
Use these simple tips to become a money-savvy business owner with staying power even during your slow seasons.
Set a Budget
A budget is the basis for any good financial planning, personally and as a business owner. It’s especially important to keep tabs on where your money goes each month for your business and how your basic expenses affect income and cash flow. If you’re new to budgeting as a business owner, keep these tips in mind from experts at FreshBooks:
- Total your income sources
- Determine all fixed costs, like subscriptions or monthly bills that stay the same month-to-month
- Add in variable expenses, like money paid to freelance writers or any expenses that are scaled up or down month-to-month
- Predict single expenditures, like a new computer or office furniture
- Put it together
For the last step, you can use a budgeting tool or app, or simply create a budgeting spreadsheet. In either case, take a few minutes on the first of every month to update it so you know where you always know where you stand financially.
Maximize Savings on Health Insurance
Health insurance can be a significant expense when you’re self-employed, but there are many ways that you can save money on this necessary business cost. One commonly overlooked way to save money is by deducting your health insurance premiums.
A number of variables affect whether this deduction is available to you or not, according to the guide, Self Employed? Here’s How to Save Money on Health Insurance. Here’s what you need to know:
- Your business must show a profit in the given year because the deduction can only amount to as much as you earn from your business.
- You can’t combine income from multiple businesses to be seen as cash-flow positive.
- You can only take this deduction if you have no other health insurance, like through your spouse.
Allocate Dedicated Office Space
If you work from home, designate an area of your home as an office so you can deduct a portion of your mortgage and utilities from your taxes. Check with your accountant on your specific tax laws to help you determine if your home office is in fact a deductible expense. For example, it needs to be used regularly and exclusively for business; and you must be able to prove that you don’t regularly do business outside of this space.
Brush up on the regulations for this deduction at IRS.gov.
Buy Used Office Equipment
Instead of spending your budget on brand new office furniture, peruse online sites, like Craigslist, for items that are in great shape and cost nearly half the price. You can also ask friends and family for old furniture they no longer use, like shelving and even a desk or chairs. In the end, you not only save money, but your office has a little more character.
Don’t forget to look for refurbished tech products as well. Most come with a guarantee, like any other new product, so you can still maintain peace of mind that you won’t be spending more on repairs than you did on the initial purchase.
Bartering with other business owners is a simple way to save money for your business, while still getting what you need. Bartering is the process of exchanging services in a way that both businesses benefit from the arrangement. For example, a social media marketing specialist may exchange services with a web designer, allowing both to improve their business without paying out of pocket.
Use Free Software (Or Free Trials)
Instead of investing in the most popular brand of software that you need, do a little research to find one that’s cheaper, or better yet, free. There’s so much competition in the technology space, you can often find a tool that does what you need without the high price tag. The key, however, is comparing your options so you don’t waste time setting something up that isn’t going to be valuable.
Always turn to trustworthy resources, like CNET, for comparing and reviewing products you haven’t heard of. If you can’t find a free product, take advantage of the free trial, which could save you up to 30 days of the cost of the tool.
Create a Referral Program
Give current customers and clients an incentive to help you find new business. They send you a referral and you give them a bonus of some sort. If you’ve never set up a referral program before, start with Hubspot’s extensive guide for getting started. You need to start with goals before moving into planning and executing to make this an effective money-saving method. Once the set-up work is done, however, you can let the referral program work for you.
Save Money This Year
Use these simple tips to save money this year. Start with a budget, be conscious about what you purchase, and take advantage of big deductions, like health insurance or home office space. The less you spend, the more you can save and put toward building your growing business.
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.