17 Sep 2015
Why do people go into business? One of the answers is to make money. When you own a for-profit business, you are continually looking for ways to increase your profits. But, increasing the amount of money your company makes is just one part of the equation. If you are able to cut expenses and reduce the amount your business spends, you’ll also be able to make your company more profitable. There are several, out-of-the-box ways you can trim your business’ expenses.
One way to reduce your company’s advertising and marketing costs is to partner up with another business in your area. For example, if you run a real estate agency, you might reach out to a mortgage company and see if it would be interested in sharing mailing lists or running a joint promotion with you. If you own a store in a shopping plaza, see if the stores that neighbor yours would be interested in distributing flyers for your store to their customers. You can offer to distribute coupons or flyers for their stores to your own customers.
Make the Most of Mailings
If you send your customers or potential customers physical mail from time to time, such as catalogs and brochures, trim your costs by making sure your mailings are working for you. Have someone from your company review your mailing list, weeding out any customers who haven’t responded for a certain amount of time. The US Postal Service also has a number of tools that will help you maximize your mailing list and avoid sending mail to incorrect addresses or to addresses that people have left years ago. Look into bulk mail procedures to further reduce your postage costs.
Go Online When You Can
Web-based companies are often able to offer the same services for a much lower price than brick and mortar companies. For example, you can usually get business cards, brochures and other printed products for considerably less from an online company than you would from a print store. The basic rule to shop around before you commit to one vendor over another applies here. When you need supplies or a specific service, get a quote from a few online companies and compare it to a quote from a brick and mortar store, then choose the offer that will help you cut costs while meeting your needs.
Try to Go Green
Going green where and when you can doesn’t just help the planet. It also helps your bottom line. Remind employees to power down equipment before they leave the office for the evening, to cut your electrical costs. Switch to LED light bulbs, which cost more upfront, but last for much longer than other types of bulbs and use less energy. If you haven’t already, try to digitize as much as possible, from your files to your company’s communications. Ask employees to only print documents when absolutely necessary and to try to use two-sided printing whenever they can.
Outsource and Go Virtual
Your business might not need to fill certain positions on a full-time basis. Working with independent contractors reduces your company’s expenses as you aren’t responsible for paying FICA taxes or for providing benefits to contractors such as a retirement match or health insurance. Going the contract route can also mean that you are able to work with a more experienced professional for a lower rate.
For example, you might not be ready to hire a chief financial officer full time yet, but still need guidance when it comes to managing your company’s finances or putting together a strategic plan for growth. Hiring a virtual CFO allows you to work with a professional in the field, for much less than the cost of hiring someone with equivalent experience. Another option for cutting employee costs is to lease your staff from a staffing agency or hire temporary workers to boost your team during busy periods, without the expense of going through a lengthy hiring process.
Saving your business money doesn’t just mean looking for the lowest rates when it comes to financing and finding the banks that offer you the best deal. It also means finding ways to creative cut costs during the every day operations of your company.
Image courtesy of 1shots at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In some cases, terms that are commonly used in one industry, such as real estate, can also apply to other industries and fields, with a small amount of tweaking. One such term is “highest and best use.” Commonly used in real estate to determine how to use land, applying the concept of highest and best use to your business can also help it to grow or to help it develop a strategic plan.
What is Highest and Best Use?
In real estate, highest and best use is a principle used when a parcel of land is being zoned and/or appraised. The value of land is closely tied to how an owner uses it. For example, if the owner of a plot of land in the business district of a big city decides to build an office tower on the land, that is generally a better use of it than if the owner decided to build a shopping center on the land. Setting up a farm on a plot of land in a rural area is generally a better use of that land than creating a parking lot, especially if the area is sparsely populated.
The location of the land isn’t the only factor that comes into play when determining highest and best use. Competition and timing also play a part, as does the physical limits of the land itself, legal barriers and and finances. If a lot of other companies are constructing office buildings in the same area, at the same time, deciding to build your own office tower might not be the highest or best use of that land.
How it Can Help Your Business
The principle of highest and best use doesn’t have to be restricted to the area of real estate. You can also apply a similar concept when making decisions for your company. The principle works when deciding how to spend your time, whether to make a hire or to outsource a certain role or task, or whether to keep a product or discontinue it.
Let’s look at the principle of highest and best use when it comes to your time, either as the CEO, president or owner of your business. You want to find ways to spend your time that create the greatest return on investment for your company and that help your company become as valuable as possible. But, if you are spending your days making sure that your employees are completing their assignments or tasks, you’re most likely not making the highest and best use of your time as a CEO. Instead, it might be in your company’s best interest for you to spend your time laying the groundwork for the business’ next step or figuring out how to move the company forward.
Deciding to hire a new employee or to outsource certain tasks to a virtual CFO can help you make the highest and best use of your time as the CEO. But, the principle also comes into play when deciding to outsource or hire someone.
Outsourcing certain roles lets your current employees make the best use of their time, especially if the position you are outsourcing involves tasks or assignments that only need to be performed sporadically. Instead of having your administrative assistant try to solve any IT problems that arise, outsourcing those tasks to a vendor can be the best solution for all involved. The same is true when it comes to your company’s financial records. If you have been handling them, hiring a part-time bookkeeper or working with a virtual CFO allows you to make the highest and best use of your time and energy, and the highest and best use of that person’s talent and time.
The team at New Direction Capital wants to help your business grow and succeed. To learn more about what you can do to make the highest and best use of your company and of your time, give us a call today.
04 Dec 2014
Until someone successfully invents a time machine, every person will only have 24 hours per day and seven days per week. Although everyone has the same amount of hours, minutes and seconds per day, it seems as though some people are able to get more done in that time than others. When it comes to increasing your own and your company’s productivity, the cliche “work smarter, not harder” comes into play. Use the following tips to make your days more productive, without spending more time hard at work.
Make a Plan for Your Day
At the very beginning of every work day or the end of the day before, create a quick plan or list for what you will do that day. Having a set list of tasks to do, that you know that you have to do, will reduce the likelihood of other issues arising and derailing you from getting done what needs to be done. Write out your plan and cross off each task as you do it so that you feel a sense of accomplishment.
Focus on One Task at a Time
Your mind is designed to focus on one thing at one time. Although multi-tasking was once revered, it’s now seen as a way to limit your productivity. When you try to send an email while carrying on phone conversation, the quality of one or the other, if not both, will suffer. It’s better for you and the people you’re working with to send the email before or after you speak with someone on the phone.
Divide and Conquer
Another way to get more done in less time is to make your day seem longer. Instead of looking at your work day as made up of eight or so hours, look at it as made up of a series of 15-minute units. By doing so, you can effectively quadruple the amount of time available to you. For example, instead of scheduling your company’s morning meeting from 9 am to 10 am, schedule it from 9 am to 9:15 am. The shorter time will reduce any slack and force you and your team to focus on the important issues.
One thing that hurts productivity is trying to do everything yourself. There are a number of tasks and projects that can be handled more efficiently by a person who specializes in those tasks. For example, outsourcing your company’s financial tasks to a virtual CFO or outsourcing your company’s social media projects to a marketing firm will allow you to focus on other pressing tasks.
Take a Break
Taking a step back from your company or work can actually make you more productive in the long run. Just as athletes sometimes need to take a day off to allow their muscles time to rest, business people sometimes benefit from taking a break to let their mind rest. A break can take several forms. It can mean stopping a project and getting a cup of coffee or glass of water every 50 minutes or so. It can also mean going away on a vacation, only to return to the company revitalized and full of new ideas.
Along with regularly scheduled breaks, you can boost your productivity by making sure you don’t spend too long at work and by making sure you get an adequate amount of sleep. Getting enough sleep helps improve your memory, which will make it easier to work through certain tasks.
Some aspects of modern business life provide both a benefit and a curse. Email, cell phones, and social media mean you can reach out to pretty much anyone, at any time. But, they can also derail your plan for the day and keep you from checking things off of your to-do list. One way to reduce distractions is to schedule set times for checking and responding to email each day and set times for browsing social media. For example, try checking your email just twice a day, at the beginning and end, and see how much time it frees up for getting other, perhaps more important things, done.
Working with the team at New Direction Capital means that you can spend more time focusing on the day to day requirements of your business. To learn more about how the services we provide can help you boost productivity, contact us today.