Your startup needs to be free from unnecessary spending if it is ever going to thrive. It’s not too late to get ahead in 2015 by prioritising costs that add real value and eliminating everything else!
1. Go paperless
Apart from being a better choice for the environment, going paperless can free up time, space and money. Sharing information electronically is quick and easy, digital documents are less likely to get lost and electronic signatures offer a secure and legal authentication system. Online spaces such as DropBox, Google Docs and Amazon Cloud Drive provide a safe and convenient way to store your important documents and you can access them wherever you can connect to the internet.
Online document signing solutions such as Nitro & Adobe can add material agility. Cutting printing-related costs such as ink and paper will take further strain off your budget and free up valuable office space.
2. Reduce energy costs
Slash the costs of running your business by cutting your energy consumption. Start by replacing any old office machines with more energy efficient models and upgrade your lights – according to Energy Matters, fluorescent bulbs require only 20% of the energy of halogen and last up to eight times longer.
Make it a company policy to turn off all lights and machines outside of business hours and save the power for when you actually need it. Some green upgrades are even eligible for tax deductions, so have your local electricity company come in and recommend a few changes.
3. Get an accountant
If you have been taking care of your own taxes, it might be a good time to hire an accountant, which can save your business a fortune. Investing in professional help will mean getting every deduction you are eligible for, never missing another deadline and saying goodbye to those crippling fees.
Bookkeeping is available online with plenty of providers offering low cost subscriptions appropriate to the scale of your business. Spending less time on your books will also mean you can focus on tasks that create lasting value for your business – and whilst we’re on lasting value – accountants can also help access government support and funding programs
Crowdsourcing is one of the hottest trends in modern business and provides a fantastic way to save money without undermining quality. Nowadays, many talented professionals choose to work for themselves and hiring them on a freelance basis will cost a significant amount less than a full time member of staff. Whether you need a logo designed, articles written or IT support, you can temporarily hire for when you need the work done and set a budget that suits you. Crowdsourcing can often extend these advantages by increasing diversity and variety in the solutions or materials you get back.
5. Get social
Social media has revolutionised the world of marketing by providing a savvy way to engage customers in a far more meaningful way. Rather than pouring money into outdated marketing campaigns, get active on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and make it easy for people to discover what your business is all about. Start with your own audience and then leverage out using the variety of campaign and data driven ad tools. Having happy customers spread the word about your business will be far more effective than singing your own praises and, best of all, it’s free to get started!6. Adopt a data-driven mindset
You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so adopt a data-driven mindset. This means identifying and tracking the key metrics that indicate your business is plateauing or growing. As long as you can export data from your sales, email, social and web analytics software, you can learn about your customers’ purchase history, online behaviour and interests. This will help you predict what they will buy in the future.
Being data-driven means you get into the habit of running tests and measuring results. Apps like Optimizely and Kissmetrics can help you find which design or marketing text converts to the best sales. Social networks, like Facebook, offer page insights that help you create more effective content posts and promotions. Leverage these to plan ever more relevant and timely sales and events promotions - all of which you can test as well!
When Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer was at Google she was known for testing every design element, including 40 shades of blue to see what shade made users click the most. Her decision generated the company an additional $200 million in revenue. In 2013 at Yahoo Mayer tested a new Yahoo logo every day for 30 days before she unveiled the current company logo.
Metrics will differ for industries and whether your business is online or offline but they are vital for effective and accurate decision-making.
7. Mine your data
Add a powerful weapon to your business arsenal and save money at the same time by embracing data mining. Data mining involves taking raw data relating to your business or industry and analysing it, using apps like Excel or Google Docs. More serious software like Logi Analytics and SPSS, which are favourites in larger enterprises and corporates, make it easy to identify potential problems and highlight both tactical opportunities and strategic actions that can deliver growth or advantage. While big business has been using data mining for years, lower tech costs and broader access to data has finally started to level the playing field (i.e. Google search). Business Intelligence SaaS applications can find the best way to add actionable, and this is key, everyday smarts to help your business.
It’s not too late to make 2015 the year that your business finally reaches its potential. The secret is cutting costs not corners!
Dan Ferguson is the CMO at DesignCrowd.com.au.