Companies are always looking for places to save money without really cutting corners, but in a lot of cases, it’s smarter to make investments up front that will pay dividends for a longer period of time. At other times, the best way to save money is to control expenses by buying only what you actually use. The seven tips below concentrate on different technologies and how they can save you money in the short and long term.
- Use the cloud
The cloud is fantastic. It allows businesses to inexpensively get the resources and storage they need and adjust that usage on the fly. The cloud allows you to avoid the expense of some hardware and gives you cloud-based solutions to software that you might otherwise need to purchase and maintain yourself. For companies that need to do development or testing, the cloud can also host virtual machines.
- Use the Internet for calls and meetings
Services like Skype are great ways to keep in touch. They require only an Internet connection, so you can save money by not getting a phone system. These services can also save money by allowing you to have “face-to-face” meetings using video instead of traveling, which takes a lot of time and money. These communication options may not replace all your travel, but if it saves even a couple of trips a year, that adds up to thousands of dollars.
- Use search engine marketing
Search engine marketing (SEM) is the easiest and most salable marketing investment a small business can make. With the pinpoint targeting possible through SEM, you can get excellent returns on your investment and gain better access to the people who are already trying to find your products or services. Even if you only have a single store, you can target your marketing efforts based on your local geography. Compared to traditional and display marketing, which both require upfront costs like graphic design, search engine marketing is very inexpensive and begins paying off almost immediately as people use the Internet more and more to find what they’re looking for. Your online marketing efforts can get you top billing and lead to more organic reach, while satisfied customers use social media to talk about their experiences with your company.
- Experiment with telecommuting
Telecommuting may not be realistic for all businesses, but if it’s possible for yours, consider it. It can be a big money saver. Remote workers use their own energy, and you aren’t required to have office space for them. Telecommuting allows you and your workers to focus on productivity without worrying about overhead. And if telecommuting works for only part of your staff, that can still lead to big savings, so consider it when hiring and setting up your office space.
Go digital with all your forms and records instead of using paper. Paper isn’t free and neither are printers, ink and cartridges, or repairs. Digital records offer a number of benefits, including making it easier to find important documents when you need them. They free you from having to worry about storing all the paper used in important business transactions for legal or tax purposes onsite or in a warehouse, and you can securely store your records in the cloud at a fraction of the cost. In these ways, going paperless can save time and money that can be spent doing something else to advance your business. Even if you can’t go entirely paperless, you can reap many of these benefits by limiting the amount of paper your business needs to deal with.
- Buy laptops instead of desktops
This is a roundabout way to save money, but laptops use about 90 percent less energy than a comparable desktop, and they offer mobility (good for telecommuting!) without sacrificing much in the way of utility. A laptop may not be a good option for power-hungry computational needs, such as graphic design, but it can work well for many other roles and that can save a lot of money on your energy bills.
- Buy powerful PCs and upgrade their memory instead of replacing them
When purchasing computers for your business, go overboard. Sure, computers advance quickly, but buying extra powerful computers with a lot of memory and large monitors for your employees increases the machines’ usable life and decreases your costs in the long run because you don’t have to replace them as often. If possible, when your computers can’t keep up with the memory requirements of the newest software, look into improving their memory instead of replacing the entire machine. More or bigger memory can further extend the life of your computers.