Displaying articles for: 08-05-2012 - 08-11-2012
Help your business flourish with some pruning and strategic watering. Here are ten quick tips to get you started on thinking about how to save money and increase the bottom line.
1. Get rid of meetings.
Every physical meeting costs time, money, and productivity. Lower those costs by limiting participants, defining a clear meeting purpose, and using web-based tools and applications to gather virtually.
2. Pay in advance.
Find out which businesses are willing to accept payment in advance in exchange for a discount.
3. Reward with non-monetary incentives.
Use time-based alternatives to raises and bonuses. Offer more time off, a flexible schedule, or set off time for employees’ own projects, such as Google’s 20% time.
4. Make your form of payment work for you.
Pay with a credit card that earns rewards such as airline miles, hotel stays, and cash back. See if you can get a discount with vendors if you pay with checks, since they save money on the credit card transaction fee.
5. Team up.
Leverage the power of numbers by finding partners to buy supplies and services in bulk. Look to trade, business, and other associations to get cheaper group rates on insurance. Share offices and resources, and partner up on campaigns to extend your reach.
Pay with time and product instead of cash! If you find you need a skill or service for your business, such as designing a new website, make a trade, while building and strengthening relationships with other businesses.
Sometimes all you have to do is ask to see what deals are available. Do some comparison-shopping to power your negotiations. Offer a longer term or minimum purchase amount for lower prices. Review your relationships with vendors and suppliers to see where you can consolidate purchases for a better overall price.
Simplify processes and workflow. By going paperless, for example, you get rid of the steps of filing and retrieval. Make the transition to more efficient web-based business applications that deal with a broad range of business tasks, from HR administration, customer service, invoicing, and finances.
9. Harness the power of cheaper technology.
Instead of paying top dollar for traditional software, use open-source tools, which are often free or extremely affordable and comparable in quality.
10. Engage your employees.
Ask your employees to contribute solutions or skills. They know best where workflow and processes break down. Perhaps you have employees with additional skills and interests, such as social media, who can do jobs in house for cheaper than hiring out. Instead of spreading an environment of fear and distrust with the mention of the word “cuts,” go through it together and prosper as a team!
Digital office advocates have long championed the benefits of virtual work. It saves costs, reduces your environmental footprint and fosters employee autonomy – if managed correctly.
Now Transport for London is positively begging businesses to try telecommuting in order to avoid overcrowding during the 2012 Games. That got us thinking about the purpose of the office and how much of our work can be ‘digitized’ now. Here are just some of our ideas:
- The office – work virtually or using hubs and co-working spaces such as Basecamp.
- The copier - use a printer/scanner instead.
- Marketing brochures – use online newsletters, QR codes, websites and mobile apps for promotions.
- Desktop computers – laptops, such as the HP Folio 13, are fast and powerfuland detachable keyboards and stands make them just as convenient.
- Reception, admin staff and PAs – use virtual office phone systems and PAs, or pay-per-use ‘gophers’ to organize your life and answer your calls.
- Servers – cloud-based hosting is cheap and reliable. Check out Office365, for example.
- Filing cabinets – scan and store documents online using services like Dropbox.
- Stockrooms and inventory – manufacture to order or using 3D printing.
- Conference rooms – use videoconferencing tools and webinars for virtual gatherings. Check out HP Virtual Rooms.
- Watercoolers – enterprise social networks are fast evolving so that even social exchanges can be digitized.
Some might argue that it’s possible to ‘dematerialise’ people, too. Small businesses already crowdsource inventions and outsource their accountancy and HR admin to cloud services. But there are still people doing the work – just in a different work environment. As firms such as LiveOps or 37Signals demonstrate, being lean doesn’t require companies to be mean with employment.
Nor is this to say the office is entirely useless – its transformation is the subject of a new book by Paul Miller, founder of the Digital Workplace Forum. Encouragingly, dropping into the office may even become a bit of an event.