Small businesses often operate on razor-thin margins and the pandemic has made that dynamic even more challenging, most especially for the small business owner. Staying competitive is not only what will keep you afloat but allow you to achieve your goals on the path to success so it’s wise to think about what advantages you can give yourself to ensure a positive pivot after weathering the storm.
According to Entrepreneur.com, a budget is a key business tool, and a good way to save money is to go through your budget line-by-line (or create one if you don’t have one already) and start reducing or eliminating non-essential expenditures.
Get rid of any subscriptions to magazines, newspapers, and industry publications and reference online versions instead.
Reduce entertainment costs by cutting out website and app subscriptions and replacing Cable TV with free video streaming services like YouTube.
Cut down on meals and travel costs by meeting clients virtually instead of expensive lunch or dinner meetings.
Eliminate rent overhead by downsizing office space if you can and instead switch to a “Work From Home” model by allowing employees to telecommute.
Of course, you don’t want to cut too deeply so that you negatively impact your operations. Some costs like marketing and branding are indeed essential. New expenses might also be on the table – particularly if you’re putting your money toward business upgrades that will help you grow and prosper.
While it can feel counterintuitive to spend money when your business is slow, savvy investments can give you a much-needed boost. For example, maybe your website needs an overhaul so you can introduce or expand e-commerce activity or make it easier for your customers to connect with you.
Making an assessment of upgrades and enhancements that would allow you to operate leaner, increase sales, and/or improve productivity is a great way to set goals while you are doing your budget planning.
Once you have a plan in mind, consider what you have the ability to do in-house versus when it makes more sense to hire a professional.
There are a lot of things you can do on your own if you have the time and desire to learn or try something new with a little help from an online tutorial or video.
Redesigning your website could be costly compared to simply updating your existing website. While DIY Website Builders make it easy enough for you to play web designer, managing all of your website’s content in the long run might be a job better suited for a Content Management System (a web-based application that’s designed to allow you to manage your website over time, rather than just build it).
Using Google or YouTube it's easy to find online tutorials and guides to help you curate the type of content that not only shows you're still in business but validates any concerns of legitimacy your would-be customers might otherwise be feeling.
Make sure your mission statement, vision, and core values are up-to-date. It’s always a good idea to go through your website content to make sure the information you are broadcasting is kept updated.
Perhaps your leadership team or management has changed, or your team's skills and certifications have changed since your website was launched. Keeping your team or staff page up to date is easy and makes a big impact on your prospective customers in the decision making stage of the buying process. Keeping pictures up-to-date is equally as important! Even if you can't afford a professional photographer, almost all smartphones come equipped with high resolution cameras these days.
Whether you work from home or in an actual office you might look at freshening things up without the exuberant costs of a complete interior design overhaul.
According to Inc.com, even adding some live plants and abstract artwork can make a big difference on appearance and productivity.
You can shift to a digital approach and bypass costly expenses on continuously upgrading your retail showroom or keeping inventory stocked by getting a Constant Contact subscription that’s essentially turnkey, allowing you to launch an ecommerce store with a built-in shopping cart ready to go! It’s far less onerous than trying to develop these features yourself and far less expensive than having a custom ecommerce website built out, especially if you're just getting your feet wet.
It’s important to recognize your own limitations, be it availability of time, manpower, or expertise, when it comes to doing it yourself versus hiring outside talent in the form of a freelancer / contractor or a professional team / agency.