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How to Lower Your Small Business’s Operating Costs

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Operating costs |How to Lower Your Small Business's Operating CostsIt can be difficult yet rewarding to keep a small business up and running. There’s a lot of work that goes into keeping things out of the red.

Whether you’re looking to reopening or just need to cut down your current operating costs, there’s much a small business owner can do. Keeping your operating costs down is the number one thing any business can do to help ensure they can stay in the green and continue to grow.

Would you love to spend less? Read on and we’ll walk you through a few key suggestions on how to cut costs and run smoother as an operation.

Embrace New Technologies

Are you still running archaic old systems and doing everything by hand? Isn’t it time to take a few steps forward and be part of the modern age?

There so many different software programs out there that can help to streamline your business operations. What area of your business operation is slowing you down? There is more than likely a program or online system out there that can help you out.

Accounting, website hosting, marketing, payroll, on and on. If you have a problem, there’s probably a technical solution that you can embrace. From the TurboTax to the free paystub generator, someone out there has created a solution for you.

Why embrace tech? Because tech creates efficiency. A computer can do something at triple the speed we can and often at a higher rate of accuracy. If you can reduce the need for direct labor, you’ll cut back on the time needed for various tasks.

You’ll also be able to eliminate some needed manpower and that can decrease the amount of money you’re putting into wages as well. Tech might even be able to improve the way you approach certain processes in your business, cutting out unneeded steps and providing cheaper alternatives.

Consider Outsourcing

It can cost a lot to keep employees on your payroll the whole year-round. On top of wages, you’ve got health insurance and various budgets to worry about. It might be enough to sink your whole budget outright.

It doesn’t have to be, however. If there are certain departments that you don’t really need to have year-round, you could always outsource them. Many companies do this for a variety of departments: tax accounting, human relations, or even customer service.

Instead of hiring someone full-time, outsourcing allows you to pay for these services only when you need them. That can greatly help to lower your overall cost and to raise the efficiency of each dollar that you spend.

Advertising and marketing is another area that you could benefit from outsourcing. For many business owners, running an entire marketing department isn’t worth the investment that it provides. It can be a real headache.

However, outsourcing your marketing and advertising needs to another company can help get the results you want at a fraction of the cost. This can really pay off as time goes by.

Look for Better Rates

Have you been working with the same shipping company for years? Maybe you’re not doing the work at finding a business partner who will really provide you with the kinds of prices you need to stay profitable.

One way to cut operating costs is to take a serious look at your vendors list. Where are you spending the most money, and might it be possible to get the same product or service from another entity for cheaper?

Even if you’re considering leaving, the current vendors you work with might consider negotiating down in order to ensure you’ll stick around as a client of theirs. If you compare prices from different vendors, you might be able to pit them against one another and get them to bring the price down.

Getting new quotes if it’s been a while since you’ve done this kind of research can ensure you’re getting the price you really deserve.

Create a Green Workspace

Did you know that creating a green workspace can do more than helping out the planet? It can also provide a positive impact on your bottom line.

It’s true! One of the benefits of many green practices is that they are more energy-efficient. Energy efficiency as it relates to your budget means cheaper bills.

Switch out all the light bulbs in your office for green-friendly fluorescent lighting and you’ll be surprised at how much you save on a yearly basis. Improving your heating and cooling systems cans also help to shave dollars off.

If you can cut your office’s reliance on disposal products you’ll also be able to save money there. Recycling and reusing products lessen the need to buy more. Encouraging multi-use water bottles, mugs, plates, and so forth will help Earth and help your wallet.

Swapping back to a normal coffee pot as opposed to those single-use coffee cups can provide big savings as well. A normal tin of coffee can produce hundreds of cups of coffee as opposed to the very few that a pack of cups will create for the same price.

It may be difficult to get your team to adjust to these kinds of changes right away. With a little work, however, you can create great change and cut some of your costs.

Learning to Lower Your Operating Costs

It can be hard to run a small business, especially in the current climate. However, embracing some of the above tips and tricks can help you to lower your current operating costs.

If you can successfully keep these costs down, you’ll be well on your way to a brighter tomorrow. Need more financial advice for the office? Keep scrolling our blog for more.

How to Streamline Your Business and Reduce Expenses

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Streamline your Business|How to Streamline Your Business and Reduce ExpensesStreamlining is in every business’s best interest. Operating a clunky business is costly. You need to pay to keep all the essential components together and juggle with operations. It’s a nightmare both for outright costs and for time wasted. Despite what many businesses may think, there is a very good chance that they are inefficient in at least one way.

Audit Your Business

Any efforts you make before auditing your business have the potential to have been a complete waste of your time and resources. You might know of a problem, yes, but without that audit, you don’t know why it is a problem or what the best method is to go about fixing it. The best solution might be to improve a different area of your business entirely. Until you do an audit, you will never know.

Automate Your Business

Auditing your business will give you a clear idea of what needs to be done. In most cases, automating specific tasks will immensely improve your business and employee relations. You just need to know which tasks to automate to see the most significant improvements. Data management systems are incredibly clever and can help make steps that took minutes or even hours and days take seconds. HR, inventory, and data collection are three areas that often see the most significant improvement in productivity when automation is introduced.

Invest in Closed-Loop Systems

Waste is waste. If you manufacture items, you want to make use of the scraps and cut-offs just as much as the main bulk of the virgin material. If distilling is included in your process, then you will want a closed-loop system that will reduce loss and help you optimize your manufacturing process. Do try to choose items that work together. Your new pdx.gold extraction unit should work with the rest of your system, for example.

Make Money Out of Your Waste

Following on the closed-loop suggestion is to make money out of your waste. You won’t always be able to recapture raw materials in a closed-loop machine. Instead, you will want to look at creating a closed-loop business partnership. Find businesses that need your scrap and waste and are willing to pay for it. If your scraps are metal, paper, or other similar raw materials, then you can make money back on an item you used to have to pay to dispose of.

Invest in Regular Training

If you want your workplace to be efficient, your employees need to know the best way to do that. This applies to those working on a manufacturing floor and your office. Train on optimal data input, on how to operate machinery, and even make an efficient system so that all items and equipment have a place and can be easily located in seconds.

Go Paperless

Try to reduce the number of materials you need. Going paperless is just one of the most apparent routes you can take. To put into perspective just how much you can save, consider that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is looking at savings in $1.5 billion in the next decade just by going paperless. Though your business likely isn’t cutting down 2 million trees each year to feed its paper habit, the savings are still there, and you can and will see a difference for your business.

5 Golden Rules for Managing Business Logistics

StrategyDriven Tactical Execution Article |Managing Business Logistics|5 Golden Rules for Managing Business LogisticsManaging your business gets increasingly more difficult as you scale it, Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to ensure that your company stays organized as long as you adopt some golden rules to help streamline your workflow and logistics processes. So in this post, we’re going to talk about five important things to follow.

1. Proper planning is mandatory for an efficient logistics system

Before you make any sweeping changes to your business, it’s vital that you plan out all of your actions to ensure that you’re not missing anything and that you’ve included everything that is a part of your logistics chain. Planning is important because it allows you to get a better overall view of your business’s current logistics system, giving you a better look at the areas that need to be optimized and where you can maximize your profits.

However, what’s arguably more important than proper planning is the ability to prepare for any potential situations where your plans don’t work. Unforeseen circumstances aren’t uncommon regardless of the type of business you operate. Whether it’s a problem with your products, adverse weather conditions, transportation issues or even internal organization problems, you need to have contingency plans in place for when things go badly.

2. Focus on building solid relationships with third-party services

While you might manage most of your general logistics chain, there’s undoubtedly going to be areas that you need to rely on other companies–at least for now. Everything from outsourced drivers to a pallet delivery company can be considered an essential service for smoothing out the bumps in your logistics chain. In some cases, you might even need to rely on a warehousing service to help you store excess goods as you grow your company’s storage space.

However, if you find that you’re constantly forced to use external employees to help, you might find it more convenient to hire new staff instead as long as the cost of recruitment and training can offset the current cost of hiring temporary workers. Eventually, you’ll want to manage virtually every aspect of your logistics chain so that you have more control over it, but until then, it’s perfectly fine to rely on outside services.

3. Efficient warehouse management is the key to a well-oiled logistics system

Proper warehouse management, such as indexing of items, can help a considerable amount when it comes to optimizing your logistics system. This is especially important for companies that typically deal with items that are perishable, such as food items that need to be refrigerated. The capacity of your warehouse should also accommodate your needs. This can be difficult to measure unless you’re actively monitoring every aspect of your logistics chain, hence why analytics and accurate reports can be important.

Warehouse management also means having enough workers and equipment to store and retrieve orders as needed. This includes having staff that are knowledgeable of all the safety considerations of working in a warehouse, and also having access to forklifts and similar pieces of equipment to make their life easier.

4. Use automated processes to become more efficient

Whether it’s organizing goods or printing labels, automation can make your logistics chain a lot simpler to manage. With the right type of software and engineers to monitor and tweak it, automated processes could play a major role in the way you operate your logistics.

Automated tools are usually always a big help, but it’s worth remembering that they can be difficult to set up and are usually prone to problems. Make sure you do your research and trial any piece of automation technology you use before putting it into service.

5. Analytics will help you get an objective look at your logistics chain

We mentioned this briefly already, but having analytical tools to track different metrics is critical to the operation of your business. Warehouses benefit greatly from using analytics because it allows you to make informed decisions backed by real statistics and facts that you personally generate. It allows for smarter inventory management, it helps you expand when needed and it also works well with complex supplier networks.

In addition, analytics can also help you react to certain situations. For instance, if there’s a supply chain issue like a truck getting stuck in transit, then you’ll immediately notice there’s an issue. Using your analytical tools, you can make decisions on how to proceed. This can be done by examining current stock, how much the truck is carrying and also how long your current stock will last. You can even track financial objectives to see if you’re meeting your targets.

The Dos And Don’ts Of Automation In Business

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Automation in Business|The Dos And Don’ts Of Automation In BusinessAutomation involves using robots and software to take care of tasks. In recent years, it’s become a popular way of improving efficiency in business – by no longer having to manually complete tasks, you can free up a lot of time and energy. Most tasks nowadays can be automated. However, just because you can automate every task doesn’t mean you should automate every task. There are still some processes that benefit from a human touch and automating them could do more harm than good. To help you determine when you should use automation, here are a few dos and don’ts.

Do automate long, repetitive tasks

Long and repetitive tasks can be tedious. These are the types of tasks that are perfect for automation. Robots are able to handle long, repetitive tasks for hours if not days. They won’t get tired and won’t lose concentration like humans (which leads onto the next point of precision).

Do automate tasks that require constant precision

Humans aren’t able to offer the reliable constant precision that machines can. If you’re mass producing a product and need to apply a specific amount of glue to a specific spot, it could be worth looking into automated dispensing technology to do this task. Automation could also be useful for tasks that require precise calculations such as working out complex scientific formulas.

Do automate dangerous tasks

Some tasks could be particularly dangerous. Putting them in the hands of a robot could save you or your employees from getting harmed. Robots are already used to assess burning buildings, clean up nuclear sites, dispose bombs and inspect pipelines. While these tasks are still often manually controlled by a human from a remote location, certain routine tasks that involve dangers are starting to become automated.

Don’t automate user testing

The whole point of user testing is to test a product on a real-life user. While software can be used to simulate some testing, some of your testing will need to be done on humans to get a genuine reaction. This could include everything from tasting food to trialling out software.

Don’t automate marketing

Effective marketing relies heavily on appealing to human emotions and requires a lot of imagination. While there are automation tools out there to create social media posts, send out emails and generate ads, you could find that you get poor results by relying wholly on automation. Exciting marketing campaigns require human ideas – although once these ideas have been established, you may be able to automate certain processes (such as scheduling pre-written emails to get sent out at certain times).

Don’t automate tasks that require empathy

Robots suck at empathy. Any job that involves empathising with other humans should be handled by humans. A noteworthy example of this is handling complaints on the phone – getting a robot to answer complaint calls could end up frustrating most callers. Automated phone answering should only be used to direct people to the right human contact.

3 Reasons to Automate Your Business in 2015

If you’ve added ‘being more efficient’ to your list of New Year’s resolutions recently, you may be struggling to find ways to generate more productivity with little effort. Chances are, the solution (and the problem) is literally right in front of you. Your mouse and keyboard are major sources of inefficiency. Communicating with colleagues, manipulating spreadsheets, entering customer information into a CRM… these are all examples of time-consuming manual processes that can be done better and faster by someone (or something) other than you.

If your idea of fun is copying and pasting text all day then by all means, continue doing what you’re doing. But we’ve got some thoughts on why you should at least consider ways to automate business processes in your organization and be more efficient in 2015.


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About the Author

Richard MilamRichard Milam, Founder and CEO of EnableSoft Incorporated (www.enablesoft.com). EnableSoft, is engaged in offering game changing software products and services to the business and financial services industry, healthcare and a dozen other markets. EnableSoft serves over 500 corporate clients worldwide. Prior to founding EnableSoft in 1995, Richard was a partner and served as Senior Vice President of FiTech PLUSmark, Inc. Richard designed and implemented a business plan to offer bank merger data conversion services which resulted in the successful merger of over 50 financial institutions.