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 11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities 2 How to Become an Entrepreneur (Advice from a Serial Entrepreneur) 3 The Lifehack Show Episode 7: Following Your Calling 4 Is People Management the Right Career Path for You? 5 10 Ways to Build Positive And Effective Work Relationships

          Read Next

          Advertising
          Advertising
          Advertising

          Last Updated on September 18, 2019

          11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

          11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

          Are you looking to move up the career ladder? Or maybe you’re tired of having a “job” and want to start looking for a more permanent career?

          Whatever your motivation, you are going to have to learn some new and different hard skills to broaden your opportunities. After all, there’s a very famous quote that says:

          “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

          While the insanity part doesn’t really fit here, the overall message is a good one. If you are looking for a different result (career advancement, more money or even a career instead of a job), it’s up to you to make it happen. This is both the good news and bad news!

          The good news is that because it’s up to you, you have complete control over it happening. The bad news is that change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit, that’s why we develop routines, and anything that disrupts that routine causes us anxiety. And we will do almost anything to get rid of that anxiety. The overweight person will calm their anxiety by eating that doughnut, the smoker will light up a cigarette to avoid anxiety.

          What we want to do with this article is to give you the hard skills you’ll need to reduce that anxiety so you can move up that corporate ladder, make more money or have career instead of just a “job.”

          The following hard skills are essential to learn if you want to advance your career. They may not be easy to take up, but definitely worth your effort of learning:

          1. Cloud Computing

          “Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more—over the Internet “the cloud” to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.” Microsoft[1]

          There are many different jobs available in the cloud computing world today. They range from architects and developers to data scientists, security pros. Each job is its own specialty and requires a high level of specification for advancement.

          This is definitely a hard skill that requires education. But if the tech world and computers are your thing you can make cloud computing a lucrative career.

          Advertising

          2. Data Mining and Statistical Analysis

          Again, these are highly specialized fields. Data mining is defined as using large sets of data to look for anomalies and other patterns that can be used to predict future behavior.

          Amazon is probably the best known company to use data mining. Have you ever noticed that when you buy something at Amazon, you’ll see a little ad at the bottom that says “customers who bought this also bought…”and it lists 2-3 other items? All of that information comes from data mining, by examining the millions of sales amazon makes they can predict that if you buy item #1 there is a high likelihood that you will buy one of the other items too. T

          his not only increases sales for Amazon, but it also serves as a reminder for you that you may need these additional items for your project. This is very valuable information and has a wide range of uses. Although it has a bad reputation and evil sounding name, it is a very useful tool for maximizing productivity and sales.

          3. Data Management

          All companies today deal with a ton of data! Being able to manage that data in an efficient manor is not only highly prized, but a necessity.

          We all have these things on our desks called computers. Unless there is a need for a paper copy, almost all of our data is computerized. Meaning that, in theory it is all at our fingertips. Being able to organize that data so that it’s easily and quickly retrievable is why computers are replacing filing cabinets!

          However, just like the old fashion filing cabinet, data management on a computer is only good if it’s well organized. You want to make sure that you are keeping your data well organized so that it’s easy to find when needed. This is a skill that comes easily to some people (are you a person that makes lists? Good!) but with others it will be a skill that needs to be practices. Make sure that this is a discipline you master.

          4. Scheduling

          Being able to make and keep to a schedule is a very useful tool in both business and life. Effective scheduling means that you can prioritize projects, understand the tools needed to get the job done on time and that you are organized enough to lead people.

          An important point here is to write things down! Whether it’s in an old fashion daily or weekly organizer or in a PDA. Have a copy of your schedule available at your fingertips at all times.

          5. Financial Skills

          These are especially important when looking for that promotion. The higher up the ladder you go, the more you’ll have to deal with things like accounting, budgeting, financial planning and cash flow management.

          While you may not need to be an expert at all of these, you should have a good grasp of all of them. This is where taking a few night classes at your local community college is a good idea. You don’t need to become an expert, but brushing up on these skills will help you tremendously.

          Advertising

          6. Research Skills

          These are important in all aspects of life, but especially in your work-life.

          Are you looking for that first job out of school? Nothing impresses a boss or hiring manager more than someone who has researched the company. Trust me, they deal with people walking in off the street everyday looking for a job, but managers and owners need to see the value in hiring (or promoting) you.

          So do your research and have some company specific questions ready to ask. Show that you are interested in working for that company or that position and not just “a” job or the “promotion” because you have seniority or need the money.

          If it’s a promotion that you are after, never bad mouth the previous occupant. Instead pick out an example that he/she was good at and explain how you would like to use or expand that policy and how it would enhance the policy changes you’d like to make.

          If it’s a new job you’re going for, then make sure to have some company specific questions ready to show that you have done your homework for the new position.

          7. Marketing Skills

          While marketing a companies products or services has always been a highly sought after skill. In today’s world, it can take on several different forms.

          Some of the marketing skills that are highly sought after today include, SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, Search Engine Marketing and marketing campaign management. Familiarity with Google Analytics as well as Word Press are also valuable.

          While traditional marketing and branding were focused on advertising and selling. Almost all marketing efforts now a days are focused on the internet.

          8. Network Security Specialist

          Again, this is a highly skilled position that requires specialized training. But the amount of data that all companies store is significant, and if that data is leaked or stolen, it can costs them millions of dollars in both lost revenue and lawsuits.

          So, if you have an interest in network security you will find the field both lucrative and stable.

          Advertising

          9. Communication Skills

          At first glance, communication skills may not look like it fits into the category of “Hard Skills” that can help you succeed. But in this ever shrinking world where companies can do business from almost anywhere, communication is more and more important.

          Are you bilingual? It really doesn’t matter what language you speak, there’s a company out there looking for someone who speaks that language.

          10. Computer Programming

          I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that computers are going to be around for a while! As both the hardware and software get more advanced, the need for computer programming is only going to increase.

          11. Graphic Design

          As of 2018, there were 4.37 million new websites launched.[2] A good number of them will fail because they just aren’t interesting enough visually. The use of templates and replicated websites is only making the problem worse.

          Part of the way Google ranks sites is through originality, this almost ensures that replicated sites will never get ranked through Google. So the more original your site is, the more likely people will visit and actually spend time there.

          That is what a good graphic designer does. Takes your basic idea and turns it into a website that people actually want to visit.

          Embrace the Anxiety That Comes with Change

          You know it’s going to be there, you know that you’ll want to give up as you’re learning these new skills but, you’ll also know that the end result is worth the journey.

          Here’s a little trick when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

          Have you ever met an ex-smoker who was sorry they quit? An ex-drinker or drug user that said life was much better before they quit? These people have gone through some of the most difficult challenges humans can go through including weeks, if not, months of intense physical withdrawal symptoms. They did it because they knew that the pain and anxiety they would experience would ultimately get them to a much better life.

          Now what was that complaint you had about attending night-school?

          Advertising

          This is the part everyone hates, everyone thinks night-school, adult education and just generally giving up family and/or spare time. While those are certainly possible ways to develop the necessary skills, they aren’t the only way.

          You’ll want to check with your human resources department because depending on the company, a certain degree maybe required in order to even be considered for a position. In those cases, night-school, on-line or some other form of adult education maybe your best route.

          But as long as a degree isn’t required, then your options are wide open.

          Let’s just say that you’re a sales person interested in becoming the sales manager but, the territory you’ve been given will never produce the sales figures that would make you stand out as a good candidate for sales manager. So how about you start your own side business (don’t compete with your company), but let’s say you enjoy golf.

          In this day and age, there are plenty of places that will teach you how to sell products on-line and even set you up with your own website. So you start a site selling golf equipment and accessories (don’t worry, you won’t even have to carry inventory or worry about shipping).

          Now, when that sales manager spot opens up, you can explain that even though other salespeople had better numbers than you, it had nothing to do with your sales ability, it was more of a consequence of the territory your were given.

          And to prove it, you brought in some information about a side business, you started showing that you’re on target for a sales growth rate of 30% this year. And because you had to do all of the marketing for the business, you came up with some marketing strategies that you can bring to the new job (built-in experience).

          The Bottom Line

          We’ve put together these 11 hard skills as a way to give yourself a “leg up” on the competition. We’ve tried to make this a mixture of both skills that require a great deal of training, and also ones that you can work on and develop by yourself.

          We know that not everyone is cut out to be a cloud computing expert, but we also know that working on and having good scheduling skills will make you a much more desirable candidate for the position!

          We also don’t want you to discount the idea of a “side hustle“. Especially for people new to the workforce, having a business that you have started and run successfully shows potential employers that you have initiative, scheduling skills and ambition which can put you well ahead of your competition!

          As usual, we hope you found this article both enjoyable and informative. If you did, may we ask that you share it with your family and friends through social media. It really does help us and is greatly appreciated!

          More Skill to Help Advance Your Career

          Featured photo credit: Kyle Sterk via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Microsoft Azure: Cloud Computing
          [2] Netcraft: December 2018 Web Server Survey

          Read Next