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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.

    The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity? The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? How to Diagnose the “Phantom Cursor” Issue on Your Mac Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle 6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

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    Last Updated on July 4, 2019

    25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

    25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

    Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless.

    Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent free online education awaits on the following 25 sites.

    1. Coursera

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      Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

      Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education, and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

      Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups.

      2. Khan Academy

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        Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

        Among the more well known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly useable, which may make it easier to keep learning goals.

        3. Open Culture Online Courses

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          If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world. The site features a lot of material found only on universities private sites, all in easy to browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses, without having to visit and search each university’s own site.

          Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales and many state universities around the United States. A very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

          4. Udemy 

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            Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

            Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top quality content. This is another site however, that mixes free and paid content.

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            5. Academic Earth

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              Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources, and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

              Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

              6. edX

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                Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics.

                7. Alison

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                  Unlike the previous sites on this lists, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

                  It’s a great option if users need certification for their learning as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

                  8. iTunesU Free Courses

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                    A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod, or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

                    Desktop users can access  iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

                    Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos, and paid content.

                    ITunesU does include courses on a pretty wide scope of topics, but does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

                    9. Stanford Online

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                      Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

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                      Stanford Online is a great site for high quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school.

                      10. Harvard Extension

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                        Like Stanford Online, Harvard Extension features free online education courses from Harvard only. This is another excellent source for top notch course material, though the course variety is less rich than multi-school sites.

                        Additionally, Harvard Extension allows you to search for courses by professional certificate. This makes it much easier if your online education goal includes certification.

                        11. Open Yale Courses

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                          Open Yale Courses echoes Harvard Extension and Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses, but learn better by watching than by reading.

                          12. UC Berkeley Class Central

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                            Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

                            13. MIT OpenCourseWare

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                              Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, plus includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

                              14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

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                                Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list, however, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics. But for the topics that are covered impressive, in-depth material is available.

                                15. Codecademy

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                                  Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

                                  The courses at Codecademy are well written and easy to follow and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, plus organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

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                                  16. Code

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                                    Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

                                    In addition to kid friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics and Javascript.

                                    Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

                                    17. University of London Podcasts

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                                      The podcast page on the University of London website is another great source for free education. While the courses are limited to podcasts, the site features podcasts from it’s own campus, as well as eleven universities in and around London. This gives learners a wide base of topics and lectures, but still ensures in-depth material.

                                      18. University of Oxford Podcasts

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                                        Similar to the University of London, the University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

                                        The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. Another good site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

                                        19. BBC Podcasts

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                                          For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly, and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

                                          Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

                                          20. TED-Ed

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                                            Another great destination for more general learning is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all encompassing, motivational web series, comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

                                            Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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                                            21. LessonPaths

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                                              LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

                                              22. Memrise

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                                                Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

                                                Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

                                                23. National Geographic Kids

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                                                  The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keeps kids interested on this site.

                                                  National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

                                                  24. Fun Brain

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                                                    Fun Brain is another good option for kids who want to learn online, but focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

                                                    Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

                                                    25. Whyville

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                                                      Similar to the sites for kids free online education is Whyville a destination for preteen online learning. The site includes a variety of social features, with a focus on learning materials geared for young teens.

                                                      Whyville also mixes in educational games, to make the site a well rounded option for kids too old for simple games, but too young for heavy reading based material.

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                                                      Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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