Coming off the heels of a global pandemic, it’s safe to say that most small businesses are operating with tighter-than-usual finances. Based on my own conversations with entrepreneurs, I’d say that at least 70–80% of small business owners have severely depleted their savings to keep things afloat.
The good news is that vaccines are here and the economy is coming back to life—so this could be the year you begin rebuilding your savings with vigor. As every small business owner knows, the roller coaster of life makes it necessary to have a buffer of cash.
“Robust savings insulate your company from unexpected emergencies,” says an entrepreneurial article from Business.com. “Every business has dry seasons where sales become difficult and cash is drained. Business savings accounts are liquid assets. Liquid assets can be tapped to pay expenses that are more than current receivables. The wise business owner prepares today for the unexpected tomorrow. Organizations that withstand the test of time understand there will be times when they will be tested. These tests come in a few different forms, with changes in the market being the most common.”
So how do you acquire liquid assets during a pandemic when it all seems to run through your fingers? The Harvard Business Review suggests using a multi-pronged approach. There are no silver bullets out there, so focus on putting together a wide range of solutions. Some of these initiatives will be complex and intensive. Others will be a bit more easily attainable—so we’ll just call them “hacks.”
With no further ado, here are 7 hacks to help your business start saving money:
1. Refill or Recycle Ink Cartridges
We all know that ink cartridges are overpriced. You can save on this recurring expense by refilling your cartridges—while also keeping some plastic out of landfills. If you don’t want to take the refilling route, send your old cartridges to a recycler. For example, eCycle Group will pay up to $15 each for your old cartridges.
2. Buy Used Equipment
Most businesses require equipment to operate—so whether you’re looking for a desk or a delivery van, check out the classifieds and local auctions to find a great deal. You can also find amazing deals through government auction websites such as GSA Auctions.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Barter and Trade
You don’t always need to pay for the things your business needs. Oftentimes, you can trade something your business doesn’t need. Maybe you have some obsolete equipment or you’re stuck with inventory that you can’t seem to move. Rather than let these items clutter your business, exchange them for something of real value.
Bartering is often done informally among businesses in the same networks, though you can also use a platform like the National Association of Trade Exchanges (NATE) to facilitate a trade.
4. Save Together
While we’re on the topic of businesses in your network, you should also think about joining forces with them to get bulk order discounts. Not only will you receive lower prices on the purchases you already need to make, but you can also establish beneficial relationships in your industry.
Another way to get bulk discounts is through a trade association. This route usually involves dues, so just make sure that the benefits outweigh the cost.
5. Be an Early Bird
Discounts are often available to those who pay their bills early. Reach out to your creditors, utility providers, and suppliers to discover how much money you can save by paying earlier than required. The final step is to sign up for automatic payments—or at least put payment reminders in your calendar to ensure that you always hit the mark.
Another way to save money through promptness: shipping your mail and packages first thing in the morning. The sooner you can get your items shipped, the more affordable your costs will be. Your goal should be to avoid expedited fees whenever possible.
6. Revisit Your Insurance Premiums
It’s always helpful to chat with your insurance agents about discounts. Many times, you’ll save money by bundling. You might also be able to score the loyalty bonuses often available to longtime customers who haven’t filed any claims.
You should also consider increasing your policies’ deductibles. While you absolutely shouldn’t be reckless here, you might find that you can raise your deductible to a level where you still feel comfortable with the risk while saving money on your premiums.
7. Reuse Shipping Boxes and Packaging
One final way to save money is to save the high-quality boxes and packing materials your business receives. By reusing the things you’ve already got sitting around, you’ll save money, reduce clutter, and do something nice for the environment.
There you have it! 7 hacks that could help you start saving money right away. Some of these hacks bring in small chunks of money, only growing to large amounts over the course of the year. Others will move the needle in a bigger way. But they can all help you build your liquid assets so that you’re ready for whatever the future holds.