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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 Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity? 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 March 4, 2019

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

    I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

    Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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    Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

    Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

    Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

    I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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    I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

    If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

    Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

    The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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    Using Credit Cards with Rewards

    Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

    You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

    I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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    So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

    What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

    Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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