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7 Tips for Reducing Your Overhead Costs

7 Tips for Reducing Your Overhead Costs

    If you are self-employed or own a small business, you know all too well that out-of-control overhead costs can be crippling. Operating costs are a necessary evil– you need to spend money to make money, after all. But for businesses trying to weather tough economic conditions, or for start-ups just trying to break even, one month with too much overhead can be the kiss of death.

    Overhead can include expenses like rent, utilities, office supplies, and advertising. And while all these expenses seem pretty normal, it doesn’t mean they are necessary. If you’re serious about cutting costs without cutting corners, the following tips can help reduce overhead in your business.

    1. Go Paperless

    This should be pretty obvious by now, but going paperless is a great way for a business to decrease both clutter and expenditures. You can store important documents in the cloud or on disks, sign all contracts electronically, and help save the environment as an added bonus.

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    You won’t have to pay for paper or ink cartridges. You can sell your printer on Craigslist. And if you back up all your paper files digitally, you might even be able to downgrade to a smaller (and cheaper) office space, saving even more money each month.

    2. Splurge on an Accountant

    It may seem counterintuitive to shell out big bucks for an accountant or tax service professional to do your bookkeeping. After all, these people generally charge a lot of money for their services. But if you have someone at say, H&R Block look over your taxes this April, the company’s policy is to pay any penalties or interest caused by an error on their part.

    Best of all, tax and accounting professionals will be more likely to find deductions that you might have overlooked. It’s a big investment, especially for a small business. But it’s an investment worth making. You can’t put a price on peace of mind.

    3. Evaluate Your Needs

    Look around your office. Now, ask yourself, “What do I see here that I don’t use every day?”

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    Do you really need business cards in an age where you maintain a web site, a Twitter profile, and a Facebook page? How much are you paying for “premium” web hosting each month?

    You shouldn’t be paying for anything you don’t need, whether it’s office equipment, supplies, or space. Which brings me to my next point…

    4. Find the Perfect Space

    Is your office currently in a location that makes good financial sense? Do you need to maintain a downtown storefront, or would you be better served by working from a smaller office? Do you even need an office/studio space? Could you work from home instead? How often do you need to interact with clients face-to-face?

    The answers to those questions will vary depending on your industry, the size of your company, and your financial outlook for 2011. By securing a space that really suits your business, you will likely save time and be more productive.

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    5. Ditch Your Phone

    There’s no reason you need to pay through the nose for phone service. Not in this day and age.

    Again, how much you can cut back depends on the size of your company, how many employees you have, and what industry you are in. Between Skype and Google Voice, paying for phone calls and voicemail is a thing of the past, though you may still need to pay some money for international calling. Both services also have mobile apps, meaning you can stay connected on the go.

    And if you need a “traditional” land line, consider VOIP over the standard offerings from phone companies in your area.

    6. Make Smart Hiring Decisions

    If you have to hire a new employee, hire someone who has multiple strengths. They don’t need to have a degree in Computer Science, but if your new sales rep also knows how to check your TCP/IP settings and craft press releases, that’s a huge plus. Investing in professional development for your employees is another way to keep them happy and promote long-term growth and success for your company.

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    7. Develop Brand Ambassadors

    Advertising is expensive, and can’t guarantee consistent or impressive results. You might pay a couple hundred dollars to run a TV, radio, or print ad in your area, only to find that you drum up very little business.

    A smarter idea is to get your clients to become brand ambassadors. Offer your current clients and customers incentives for talking you up, and for referring new business to you. Word-of-mouth is still a persuasive tool in our digital age, and one that people tend to take for granted. Get satisfied customers to tweet about you for discounted services, or offer current customers free services for every new client they refer to you.

    The Bottom Line

    It’s almost impossible to run a business without some overhead. But these operating costs can be minimized or eliminated in many cases, leaving you with more profits in your pockets. A business with streamlined operating expenses will have the best possible chance for success, so make sure you’re running a tight ship.

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    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on June 20, 2019

    50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

    50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

    Most people want a few more dollars in their wallets. But between an employer and family, the time most of us can devote to a second job is severely limited. Running a small side business can provide a few more options: you don’t have to show up at a set time and you can use skills you already have. Not all will be perfect for everyone, of course, and I’m sure that you’ll have a few ideas of your own after reading this list. If you’d like to share any other business ideas, please add them in the comments.

    1. Selling collectibles — From antique books to teddy bears, there are plenty of opportunities to buy and sell collectibles. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the collectible of your choice but if you choose something that you’ve been collecting for a while, you’ve got a head start.
    2. Locating apartments — It can take time to sort through apartment listings, but you can make some money by finding the perfect apartment for a renter.
    3. Baby proofing — New parents often prefer to bring in an expert to make sure their home is safe for a new baby.
    4. Calligraphic writing — If you’ve got elegant handwriting, you can pick up gigs writing or addressing wedding invitations, holiday cards and more.
    5. Selling coupons — Search on eBay for coupons right now and you’ll see thousands of listings for coupons. It’s just a matter of clipping and listing what you find in your Sunday newspaper.
    6. Pet training — A surprising number of people don’t know where to start in training a pet. Even teaching Rover simple commands like ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’ can bring in a few dollars.
    7. Running errands — A wide variety of people want to outsource their errands, from those folks who aren’t able to leave their homes easily to those who have a busy schedule.
    8. Researching family trees — Amateur genealogists often call in experts, especially to handle research that has to be done in person in a far off place. If you’re willing to go to a local church and copy a few records, you can handle many family tree research requests.
    9. Supplying firewood — The prerequisite for selling firewood is having a source of wood; if you’ve got some land where you can cut down a few trees, you’ve got a head start.
    10. Hauling — As more people trade in their SUVs for compact cars, hauling is becoming more important: people have to rent a truck or hire a hauler for even small loads.
    11. Image consulting — Image consultants provide a wide variety of services, ranging from offering advice on appearance to teaching etiquette.
    12. Menu planning — For many people, the trip up in eating home-cooked or healthy meals is knowing what to prepare. Meal planners set a schedule to solve certain dietary problems.
    13. Microfarming — Cultivating food and flowers on small plots of land allows you to sell produce easily.
    14. Offering notary public services — Notary publics can witness and authenticate documents: a service needed for all sorts of official documents.
    15. Teaching music — If you’re skilled with a musical instrument, you can earn money by offering lessons.
    16. Mystery shopping — Mystery shoppers check the conditions and service at a store and report back to the store’s higher-ups.
    17. Offering research services — Just by reading up on a topic and compiling a report on it can earn you money.
    18. Personal shopping — Personal shoppers typically select gifts, apparel and other products for clients, helping them save time.
    19. Pet breeding — Purebred pets can be quite value, especially if you can verify their pedigree.
    20. Removing snow — During the winter months, shoveling walks can still be a reliable way to earn money. You might be asked to take care of the driveway too.
    21. Utility auditing — As people become environmentally-concious, they want to know just how efficient their homes are. With some simple testing, you can tell them.
    22. Offering web hosting services — Providing server space can be lucrative, particularly if you can provide tech support to your clients.
    23. Cutting lawns — An old standby, cutting lawns and other landscaping services can provide a second income in the summer.
    24. Auctioning items on eBay — Want to get rid of all your old stuff? Stick it up on eBay and auction it off.
    25. Babysitting — Child care of all kinds, from babysitting to nannying, can offer constant opportunities.
    26. Freelance writing — If you’ve got the skills to write clearly, you can sell your pen for everything from blogs to advertising copy.
    27. Selling blog and website themes — Do a little designing on the side? Customers that don’t want to pay full price for a website will often pay for a template or theme.
    28. Offering computer help — Particularly with people new to computers, you can earn money by providing in-home computer help.
    29. Designing websites — It may require a little skilled effort, but designing websites remains a reliable source of income.
    30. Selling stock photography — For shutterbugs, an easy way to put a photography collection to work is to post it to a stock photography site.
    31. Freelance designing — Check with local businesses: you can provide brochures, business cards and other design work and get paid a good fee.
    32. Tutoring — Math and languages reamin the easiest subjects to find tutoring gigs for, but there is demand for other fields as well.
    33. Housesitting / petsitting — Stopping in to check on a house or pet can earn you some money, and maybe even a place to stay.
    34. Building niche websites — If you can put together a site on a very specific topic, you can put targeted ads on it and make money quickly.
    35. Translating — The variety of translating work available is huge: written word, on the spot and more is easy to find even on a part-time basis.
    36. Creating custom crafts — No matter what kind of crafts you make, there’s likely a market for it. Etsy remains one of the easiest places to sell crafts.
    37. Setting up a wi-fi hotspot — With a little bit of equipment, you can set up a wi-fi hotspot and charge your neighbors for the access they’ve been ‘borrowing.’
    38. Selling an e-book — You can write an e-book about almost anything and put it up for sale online.
    39. Affiliate marketing — If you’re willing to market other companies’ products, you can earn a cut of the sales.
    40. Renting out your spare room — From looking for a long-term roommate to listing your guest room on couch surfing sites, that spare room can make you money.
    41. Offering handy man services — Handling small household tasks can provide you with plenty of work, although you’ll probably be expected to have your own tools.
    42. Teaching an online class — Share your expertise through a website, an online seminar or variety of other methods.
    43. Building furniture — For those with the skill to create handmade furniture, selling their creations is often just a matter of advertising.
    44. Providing personal chef services — Personal chefs prepare meals ahead of time for customers, leaving their customers with a full freezer and no mess.
    45. Event planning — From planning corporate events to bar mitzvahs, an event planning business can require plenty of work and offer plenty of pay.
    46. Installing home safety products — Particularly as Baby Boomers age, people able to install handrails and other home safety products are in demand.
    47. Altering / tailoring — If your sewing skills are up to par, altering garments is coming back as people try to stretch more wear out of their clothing.
    48. Offering in-home beauty services — Hair cuts, makeup and other beauty services that can be performed at home have a growing demand.
    49. Business coaching — Helping others to establish and develop their businesses can provide many opportunities to earn money.
    50. Writing resumes — Writing resumes can provide a reliable income, especially if you can put a polish on a client’s credentials.

    There are plenty of offers that claim to provide you with the opportunity to make thousands of dollars a week. Unfortunately, none of these businesses will provide that sort of income, but they aren’t scams either. They were chosen because they all require a minimum investment to get started — some require nothing more than a flyer advertising your business. Even better, if you do enjoy any of these businesses, there is a potential with most of them to continue to expand — perhaps even to the point of going full time.

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    Featured photo credit: Omar Prestwich via unsplash.com

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