How to Cut Costs for Your Small Business

Cutting costs doesn’t have to mean trimming benefits packages or dumping the monthly pizza lunch. With some creative cost cutting, you can keep a smile on employees’ faces while safeguarding the bottom line. For some tips, we check in with some small-business experts: Lauren Bacon, partner and lead designer of Raised Eyebrow Web Studio Inc.; Candice Macalino, communications manager at Small Business BC; and Jeff Harper, director of the small-business group at Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.


Think strategically about digital solutions that could replace outdated practices. As Bacon says, “Put your head in the cloud.” Online resources such as Google Apps, Google Docs and Google Calendar are free and can save time for your IT staff, not to mention let your team access their work from any computer. Bacon also suggests swapping laptops for smartphones: “iPhones and BlackBerrys can do most of what a laptop can do for a fraction of the cost.” Both Bacon and Macalino also recommend using social media in place of pricey print materials such as business cards and marketing brochures. 


Check the service charges on your bank account, advises Harper. “Some institutions not only charge for making a deposit but also for what’s in your deposit. They’ll do cash counts on the number of bills, coins and cheques they’re handling.” Harper suggests opting for accounts that offer a set or minimized fee. Macalino also advises comparing rates for all your service providers regularly: “See where you can find savings: phone plans, insurance, Internet and network provider.”


If you’re wearing multiple hats, consider sharing some responsibilities to save money in the long run. If bookkeeping isn’t your specialty, hire a bookkeeper, suggests Bacon: “This will free you to focus on what really counts in your business.” Harper suggesting going a step further and hiring an accountant, who can find ways to save taxes. Also consider consulting an insurance expert, he adds, or, when the time comes, a succession planning specialist to ease your mind and protect your company’s financial future. 


Spend a little bit of time and money now by looking at employee benefits, medical coverage and Group RSPs, Harper suggests. “That can keep employees happy and reduce the rollover of staff, which then reduces your recruitment, training and low-efficiency costs.” Macalino advises considering interns or students looking for work experience: “They might require some ramp-up time, but you’re growing new team members at a reduced cost.”


Bacon and Macalino both suggest sharing resources with other businesses to reduce costs. “Get to know your neighbours and find out what shared resources you need,” proposes Bacon, “even if it’s as small as a storage locker for staff bikes.” She also suggests shared meeting or kitchen spaces. Macalino recommends considering bulk deliveries with other companies or renting space during off-hours. “Rent your boardroom for evening gatherings,” she recommends. – Farryn Robins