No small business owner wants to end the day with empty pockets. But unfortunately in today's economy, it's not only possible, it can be all too common. That's why business owners have to be smart and proactive to be successful.
This may seem like an elusive goal. But it’s not. The bottom line is that saving money as a business is a lot like saving money as an individual. It takes hard work, business savvy, and the ability to make smart but difficult decisions in areas where there is a gray area between wants and needs for your brand.
The good news is that help is out there. Here are seven of our favorite cost-cutting software tools that are invaluable in keeping business healthy and profitable. Several of these are used daily in our business at Worthwhile.
By experimenting with these tools in your daily work life, you'll get a sense of what may be most effective for your business.
Saving money for your small business begins now…
1. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is still of the best tools you can put to work for your small business. It's free, and it gives you a rich resource of data that helps you determine your online effectiveness and identify your target audiences.
With Google Analytics, you can see who visited your site from around the world, as well as the frequency of those visitors. Quickly you'll be able to gather great information about who is coming to your site and how you can convert them into customers and prospects.
Pro tip: link Google Analytics to Google’s free webmaster tools. This is easy–it doesn’t even require a developer once Analytics is set up. Webmaster tools give you more in-depth visibility into what Google sees when it crawls your site, and helps you avoid errors that cost you in search-engine rankings.
2. Dropbox, Box, and Drive
A free tool like Dropbox or Box or Google Drive will help you save money by making it easy to collaborate on files and share them with team members and clients. These online storage and collaboration platforms allow you to drop in files so that all members of your team have access and can get to the resources you need to complete a project.
Dropbox has some storage size limits, but offers free ways to expand before you subscribe. Google Drive comes with Google Docs, which provide spreadsheet and word processing options that can help you limit the need licenses for Microsoft Word and Excel. Define your organization’s use case, and then pick the tool that provides the most value.
3. YNAB (You Need a Budget)
You can create a budget for your business (and for yourself, while you're at it) with YNAB (You Need a Budget). This simple, no-frills tool creates a budget for your business based upon the income you've already earned and not what you are projected to earn.
This way, you’ll always have a nearly real-time account no matter where you are–without having to deal with the security issues of connecting your banks and credit card accounts.
4. Survey Monkey
If you want to produce better content that really gets to your audience, you need to do some market research. Survey Monkey will help you get directly inside your customers' heads.
It's worth surveying your customer base regularly because this will give you more insight into what they want and what they think of how you're doing.
Google Docs also offer a survey tool, so if you’re using Drive, you may choose that option. We use this often for short customer surveys.
The key to making money for a small business is making sure your clients convert to real customers. There are so many small businesses that fall behind because they aren't regularly sending out invoices.
Freshbooks helps you stay organized and sends out invoices to your clients to make sure you are paid in a timely manner. It also lets you send out payments to contractors to help you stay organized and pay your collaborators on time.
We adopted Freshbooks as our invoicing system in 2016, and we’ve been beyond impressed. It’s incredible how much time it has saved, and we’ve noticed that clients pay more quickly too because it’s so much easier for them. Count us as big fans of this service and the value it provides at an incredibly reasonable price.
6. Travel Notes
Do you and your team members travel a lot for business? Travel Notes is a great resource to save you time and money while you are traveling.
If you are delayed with your flights and have to book new flights, Travel Notes takes care of getting the money the airline owes you and having it deposited into your bank account.
Is communication a challenge in your team? If so, Slack can help. It allows communication privately via direct messages, and also allows for team communication in channels. You can set up channels for work responsibilities, client work, or just about any other reason. (We even have a channel for daily lunch choices.)
Slack is helpful in making communication about projects visible to everyone working on the project, even when your team is in different locations. The free version has a lot of power, and paid versions offer even more options.
Conclusion: You are your best resource
At the end of the day, you are your very best resource. It falls to you as the small business owner to make the right decisions on cutting costs, as well as growing revenue, to take your business to the next level.
Meet clients and other business owners in your field. Befriend major influencers on social media. Expand your network in new ways and you'll find that those partnerships come back to help you in ways you didn’t expect. This legwork can end up speeding up your sales funnel or helping you make connections at a much lower cost of acquisition.
Software tools 1-7 are great for cutting costs, but at the end of the day, don’t forget that you have a lot of power and influence in saving your business money by simply being a great brand ambassador.
With a little patience–and by developing a daily habit of analyzing the "extras" your small business is consuming–you'll find little ways to save money and add efficiency that will have a big impact on your company in the future. It's essential to start thinking about this now, because in today’s business environment, saving money in every area of your company could be the difference between floating and sinking.
Small businesses are more likely to fail because of the hits they take to our changing economy–so be prepared for an inevitable future challenge by saving money now. You'll thank yourself when you have a cushion to help break the fall of a bad economy.
If you're ready to get started with saving money for your small business, start trying these tools today. You won't need all of them in the long run. That’s fine, because the most important thing is finding solutions that work best for you and your business needs.
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