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As Congress irons out the fine details of its $700 billion bailout plan, small business owners are skeptical about the economy’s recovery. Economic confidence among small business owners fell to 75.6% in September, down 12.3% from August according to Small Business Watch, a survey by Discover Financial Services. Casting an ominous shadow over the economic rain storm was a .3% shrinkage in gross domestic product from July to September, the biggest decline since 2001. While business owners work to ride out the turmoil, here are a few helpful tips to nurse your business in an ailing economy.
Lease, don’t buy. Rapid technological innovations can make that new piece of equipment outdated after a year or two. Instead of dishing out for new hardware, lease it so you won’t be stuck with antiquated technology that will force you to spend more on updates. Visit Hoovers.com for a list of companies that offer leasing.
Band together. Software can come at a hefty price tag. Volume software licensing makes purchasing large numbers of programs cheap. Try grouping together with other local business owners to purchase software; the more you buy, the less you pay. Check out your local chamber of commerce or small business organization to find other entrepreneurs that would be willing to participate in volume purchasing.
Outsource. No, not to India, but to a local third-party vendor that can supply services. Instead of hiring a fulltime staffer to manage payroll, look for an independent person or company. You’ll save on labor costs. Companies such as E-chx provide payroll processing for small businesses.
Get a free energy audit. Utility costs can account for a huge chunk of expenditures. Organizations like the Small Business Energy Alliance offer free energy audits and will replace old energy guzzling lighting with new efficient bulbs for free. Visit Sbeaonline.com for more information.
Barter, haggle, and trade. See how much in-house work you can get done without using cash. Trade services with other companies. For instance, you can offer to take care of another company’s bookkeeping if they’ll do graphic design work. Try posting your services online at Websites such as Partnerup.com, a social network for small business owners. Once again, look into your local chamber of commerce for events and meetings that will help you meet other entrepreneurs willing to trade services.
Come back next Wednesday for more cost cutting tips and check out the Cutting Edge blog for more on maximizing your dollar this Halloween. Plus, share your own tips.