Advertising
Advertising

9 Lean Budget Tips: Run A Business For Less Than You Spend On Coffee

9 Lean Budget Tips: Run A Business For Less Than You Spend On Coffee

Running an online business can be extremely rewarding—and massively expensive. But just because your friends and colleagues are using fancy tools and programs and have big budgets, doesn’t mean you have to, too. Some will even say you need the latest and greatest “Must Have” tools to be successful. I’d like to prove them wrong. Here’s how to run your business on a lean budget:

1. Day-to-day tools

Use tools you already have on your computer: whether pre-installed or purchased, just dust them off again. Most of us have purchased programs in the past (like Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, Quicken, and Photoshop) but don’t use them on a regular basis. Do a quick search of the programs already on your hard-drive (or on the computer you’ve got in storage) and then do an equally important YouTube search for training videos on that software. Put those tools to work in your business.

Also look for tools like Skype, Google Voice, Gmail, and FaxZero (for those occasional outgoing faxes) for daily communication. And also check out Box.com or Copy.com for large, free, online storage accounts. Some of the most reliable bridge lines are also free, such as Speek.com and FreeConferenceCallHD.com. Use them for consulting calls, tele-seminars or anything that would benefit from a “bridge line”.

2.  Industry-specific tools

Do a Google search for “[name of expensive program] alternative”. Or, jump into a co-op where people are purchasing a bulk license of your industry-specific software. If you’re not a graphic designer, but need a program like Photoshop, search for Gimp.org or Paint.NET with .psd.

Advertising

photoshop alternative lifehack

    If you create beautiful products that sell on Etsy, you’ll need stellar images of your products. Borrow a camera from a friend or rent one from a website like Loanables.com or SnapGoods.com. Similarly, if you need a studio to take product shots, consider asking around at local shops to borrow their light box for the afternoon.

    3. Streamline

    Go through your PayPal and credit card statements for the past 90–180 days and look for recurring expenses. Cut out anything that isn’t essential. Maybe even cut out what you think is essential and find another free alternative.

    Oftentimes, we pay $9.99 per month or $30 per month for memberships that we only use a few times per year. Ask yourself if it’s creating a return on investment for your business. Is that $9.99 each month really contributing $120 per year back into your business, preferably more? It should be.

    Advertising

    If you are using your subscriptions, check to see if you can pay an annual fee and save money throughout the year. Or, buy it outright. Often companies will charge $30 per month but sell an annual subscription for less than $200 (saving $160 over the year).

    If you can purchase outright, even better. Upgrade every two to three years and save even more. Look at PayPal six-month payment terms if you need to spread out payments of the bigger purchases.

    4. Roll up your sleeves

    Most tasks that need to be done in your business can be done quickly if you have systems in place: it’s the procrastination and thinking about it that takes time. Create a clear action plan and set aside time every day to get closer to your big dream goal and closer to the income goals you set.

    5. Leverage PR opportunities

    Whenever possible, snap up opportunities to contribute to a news article, blog post, or book. Offer to write articles for local newspapers or magazines, and utilize resources like HARO and SourceBottle where journalists are regularly looking for content.

    Advertising

    sourcebottle haro

      Set up a page on your website called “Media” (or similar), and include your bio and high-quality images, so you can point press to it easily when the opportunity arises. If you make it easy for yourself and budget in 45 minutes a week for this kind of activity, your business will thank you for it later.

      6. Training

      Every day an entrepreneur is building a new program or course. They often need beta testers to run through their program at a reduced rate, or for free. Make yourself available to them, help them make their program better and get the training your need to improve your business skills. Also, check out websites like Udemy or CreativeLive for upcoming classes that are offered completely free. Sometimes you must attend live to access the free version, but there are perks, like mingling with other attendees and making new business connections.

      Advertising

      creative live

        7. Product development

        Think it’s tricky to figure out what your potential clients will spend money on? Try this on for size! Create a one-question survey at SurveyMonkey or Google Forms and ask people to answer the question. You’ll be surprised at the answers you receive, and how easy it will be to create your next product or program. Instead of waiting months to start generating revenue, consider launching and building the course or program as you go through each week.

        survey one question

          8. Online presence

          It used to cost a fortune and take months to create a website. It doesn’t anymore. A clean WordPress website with a sales funnel automated with autoresponders (like MailChimp or AWeber) and shopping cart plugins (like WooCommerce or easydigitaldownloads.com), and semi-automated social media (through HootSuite or SocialOomph) can cost less than $10 per month.  YouTube, Facebook Pages, Twitter and Pinterest can all aid in bumping up your online presence and creating a cohesive brand.

          9. Stay lean

          Just because you’re making more money now, doesn’t mean you need to go back to your old ways. The next time you need to scale up, or make a pivot change in your business you’ll be grateful for your low overhead expenses.

          What other methods do you use to keep costs low in your business?  Share in the comments below.

          More by this author

          20 + Free Resources to Create a Simple Ebook 9 Lean Budget Tips: Run A Business For Less Than You Spend On Coffee 18 Simple Ways To Put Laughter Back Into Your Life

          Trending in Work

          1 How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively 2 The Lifehack Show Episode 10: Dealing With Burnt Out Bosses 3 10 Huge Differences Between a Boss And a Leader 4 10 Best Career Books To Help You Do Work You Love 5 7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

          Read Next

          Advertising
          Advertising
          Advertising

          Last Updated on November 5, 2019

          How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

          How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

          Knowledge is essential to become successful in life, your career and your business. Without learning new concepts and becoming proficient in our craft, we cannot excel in our chosen careers or archive knowledge to pass down to the next generation.

          But content comes in various forms, and because how we learn influences how much we know, we need to talk about learning styles. This article will focus on how to utilize visual learning to boost your career or business.

          The Importance of Knowing Your Learning Style

          Knowing your learning style enables you to process new information to the best of your ability. Not only does it reduce your learning curve, you’re able to communicate these same concepts to others effectively.

          But it all starts when you’re able to first identify the best way you learn.

          As a college student, I soon figured out that taking online courses without visual aids or having an instructor in front of me led to poor retention of concepts.

          Sure, I got good grades and performed excellently in my online exams. However. I discovered that I couldn’t maintain this performance level because I forgot 80 percent of the course content by the end of the semester.

          There are several types of learning styles known to mankind. To give an idea of how visual learning stacks up against other learning styles, here’s a brief mention of some of the different types of learning styles we have.

          The four most popular types of learning styles are:

          Advertising

          • Visual learning style (what this article talks about).
          • Aural or auditory learning style (learning by listening to information presented).
          • Verbal or linguistic learning style (learning that involves speech and writing).
          • Tactile learning style (learning by touching and doing)

          But for the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on using visual learning to boost your career or business.

          How to Know If You’re a Visual Learner?

          When it comes to boosting your career, business (or education), a visual learner is one who would most definitely choose shapes, images, symbols, or reading over auditory messages.

          I’m talking about preferring to read an actual map when navigating to a new place over listening to verbal directions. I’m talking about discovering that you actually have trouble remembering what your manager said at the meeting because there were no graphs or illustrations to support the points raised.

          Most people who struggle with learning probably aren’t leveraging their best learning styles. The earlier you identify how your learning style can boost your success, the less struggle you will encounter with processing new information throughout your career.

          However, visual learning in particular CAN 10x your career or business whether it is your preferred learning style or not. And here’s why:

          Several studies have arrived at the conclusion that the brain retains more information with the help of visual aids. In other words, images are directly processed by our long-term memory which helps us store information for longer periods of time.[1]

          While some lessons can be performed orally, several concepts can only make sense if you have an image with an explanation of sequences (i.e learning about the human DNA).

          Visual learning does use a different part of the brain and visual cues are processed by the part of the brain known as the occipital lobe.

          Advertising

          By engaging more parts of the brain during learning, you’re able to have a fuller understanding of concepts and facilitate better interaction with your immediate environment.

          How to Use Visual Learning for Success

          Here’re 4 ways to use visual learning to boost your career or business:

          1. Bring back the to-do list. Then add shapes and colors to boost productivity.

          We live in an age where computers have taken over virtually every aspect of productivity and most human functions. But written lists are making a comeback, and with an endless number of important tasks to complete, having a to-do list of tasks in order of importance can improve your productivity.

          While coming up with a list is initially challenging, adding colors and shapes to written lists that you personally write and manage gives you an extra layer of assurance and boosts aids recall so that you actually get stuff done.

          I have tried this technique in my work as a registered nurse and discovered that adding shapes and colors to to-do lists helps me delegate tasks, recognize where more work is needed, and makes it easy to cross off completed tasks at the end of the day.

          2. Add graphs, charts and symbols to your reports.

          Yes, it seems like more work cut out for you. However, graphs enable you monitor the heartbeat of your business.

          Graphs and charts help you trend your finances, budget, and pretty much any data overtime. With the help of free and premium software available on the market, it has become easier to take plain data and in a matter of seconds, have relevant information displayed in different shapes and images.

          As an entrepreneur, you can make predictions and allocate funds wisely when you’re able to see whether your efforts are rewarded. You can use colors and charts to delegate actions to members of your team and track performance at the same time.

          Advertising

          And when broken down into monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual goals, graphs and charts communicate what ordinary text cannot.

          3. Effectively brainstorm with mind-mapping.

          Mind-mapping is not new but I don’t think it’s been talked about as often as we do to-do lists.

          With mind mapping, you’re organizing information accurately and drawing relationships between concepts and pieces from a whole.

          Think of a mind map as a tree with several branches. For example, the tree can symbolize healthcare while each branch stands for nursing, medicine, laboratory science, and so on. When you look at nursing, you can further branch out into types of nursing; pediatric, women’s health, critical care, and so on.

          It’s an interesting relationship; the more ideas you’re able to come up with for your chosen subject, the deeper you get and the stronger the association.

          Mind maps really show you relationships between subjects and topics, and simplifies processes that might seem complicated at first glance. In a way, it is like a graphical representation of facts presented in a simple, visual format.

          Mind mapping isn’t only limited to career professionals; business owners can benefit from mind mapping by organizing their online learning activities and breaking down complex tasks into simple actions so that you can accurately measure productivity.

          4. Add video streaming to meetings.

          What if you could double the productivity of your team members by video streaming your meetings or adding flash animation to your presentation at the same time?

          Advertising

          When you offer video as an alternative method of processing information to colleagues, there is a greater chance of retaining information because we recreate these stories into images in our minds.

          For organizations that hold virtual meetings, it can also be an effective way to enhance performance during if people can see their colleagues in addition to flash animation or whatever form of video is provided during the meeting.

          Is Visual Learning Better Than Other Learning Styles?

          No, that is not the point. The goal here is to supplement your existing dominant learning style with visual learning so that you can experience a significant boost in how you process and use everyday information.

          You might discover that understanding scientific concepts are much easier after incorporating visual learning or that you’re able to understand your organization’s value when projected on a visual screen with charts and graphs.

          The overall goal is to always be learning and to continue to leverage visual learning style in your career and business.

          More About Learning Styles

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

          Reference

          Read Next