Startups are great investments that allow people to actualize their passions and build invaluable solutions.
However, running a profitable startup can be expensive, especially in the early growth stages. This doesn’t mean you must decimate your savings or exhaust funding options.
When launching a startup, one of the crucial aspects to consider is the business operating costs. These costs encompass various expenses necessary for running a business smoothly. Understanding and effectively managing these business operating costs are essential for the long-term success and sustainability of any startup.
Proven Strategies to Minimize Business Operating Costs
You can streamline your operating costs to avoid unnecessary spending and stay ahead of your competition. The following strategies can help lower recurrent expenses without compromising your products.
1. Lease Vital Equipment and Space Instead of Buying
If your business requires expensive equipment, you can lease instead of buying. Leasing has various advantages, even when buying refurbished equipment. Typically, leasing helps you save money during the early growth stages of your business.
Most businesses require office space and strategic storage space. While you may want to own the business premises, it may not be feasible, especially when your business is yet to reach its full potential.
Leasing a business space can be a deal changer since it helps you use the savings on vital expenses like marketing and customer acquisition.
However, the process may not be straightforward, and you may want some professional assistance. If you want to make the most of your business space leasing deal, Jeff Tabor Group can help identify and negotiate a suitable option.
While some leasing arrangements require a down payment, the total upfront costs are lower. The leased property also has fewer financial responsibilities meaning you’ll spend less on maintenance costs.
2. Automate Repetitive Tasks
Various systems can streamline and automate most business tasks. The services can handle payroll, accounting, marketing communications, and website management. The right technology promotes business efficiency, which is crucial in reducing business operating costs related to redundant tasks.
For instance, bots and other AI programs can complete jobs faster while maintaining accuracy. Automation is also vital in streamlining supply chains and minimizing procurement costs. Typically, you should automate the tasks that consume excessive time and repetitive processes vital to running the business.
3. Outsource For Maximum Efficiency
Outsourcing specialists to handle specific tasks can boost efficiency. For instance, advertising and marketing campaigns are best handled by marketing agencies for optimum results.
In most startups, running in-house marketing projects can distract workers from the core focus of your business. While the time investment has tangible results, it is best to let a specialist handle the marketing campaign.
Outsourcing may seem more expensive than working with an in-house team, but you’ll save more money in the long term and get better results. Since you’re working with industry experts, outsourcing can fast-track business growth.
4. Embrace Paperless Documentation
Going paperless can minimize recurrent costs. When working with paper-based documentation, it is almost impossible to avoid wastage. While some startup owners often ignore printing costs, printing catalogs, internal documents, and flyers can bloat your operating costs.
You can ask employees only to print the necessary documents to avoid waste. Most documents can be shared digitally, eliminating the need to buy printing supplies.
Most importantly, paperless operations reduce the carbon footprint making your business more environmentally friendly. You should switch to digital communication and file management.
5. Cut Back On Your Travel Budget
Most businesses operate with a lower travel budget, and the trend is gaining traction across different industries. The mass adoption of video conferencing proves it’s possible to conduct cross-border business without jetting out of the country.
Flight delays, hotel costs, rescheduling fees, and missed connections often make in-person pitches more expensive. While you can reduce some travel expenses, you can’t eliminate all business trips indiscriminately.
It is vital to review your business travel budget and determine the most crucial trips that must happen. If you can achieve the goals through a virtual meeting, there’s no need to spend money on the trip.
6. Plan Your Staffing Needs
Planning your staffing needs is crucial when making your startup lean. A good plan helps you identify potential skills gaps essential for business operations. When starting, you can’t fill every position because you will overuse available funds, but the staff will be underutilized.
Typically, it may be hard to determine staffing requirements for each position, but it is better to have few employees than have underworked staff. If your business is cyclic, you can maintain the minimum team required to handle off-peak operations and outsource excess work to contractors when demand grows.
Ambitious entrepreneurs are eager to establish in-house teams quickly to cover staffing gaps from the beginning. However, maintaining full-time employees can be expensive, especially when dealing with erratic revenue, turnover, and other new business challenges. However, you can cut costs and stabilize business finances by onboarding the crucial staff.
7. Negotiate With Vendors
If you aren’t paying the best prices for business supplies, review your expenses and determine if you can renegotiate the rates.
Buying products in bulk may seem expensive, but it can unlock volume discounts. However, you should plan your inventory and balance the supplies.
In addition, you can leverage your reputation with the vendor, especially if you have an outstanding payment history. Most vendors are willing to offer flexible prices to loyal customers.
Most importantly, you should compare prices from competing vendors and use the figures to negotiate. If your vendor is too rigid, you can switch to another supplier but don’t compromise quality. You can negotiate better contract terms even when you can’t get lower prices from certain vendors.
8. Pay Your Bills On Time
Many suppliers offer discounts for early invoice settlement. Small discounts per billing cycle can add up, leading to significant annual savings.
For instance, a 2 percent discount on $50,000 operating costs can cut your annual expenses by $1,000. Whenever possible, pay all your invoices early to steer away from penalties and late fees.
Similarly, keep tabs on your loans and lines of credit payments because interests tend to skyrocket when you make late payments or miss a billing cycle.
9. Analyze and Adjust
Running a successful startup is a full-time engagement that requires continuous analysis and adjustment.
Study different cost factors to avoid paying more than necessary. You can start by monitoring employee time to identify the busiest sessions. If you pay workers hourly rates, plan to have more staff during peak hours.
Alternatively, you can look at your sales report on your payment processing software to get an overview of staff engagement. Understanding your staffing needs helps you maximize productivity and lower staffing expenses.
Most financial costs may not be variable, but you can still find opportunities to minimize expenses. Monitoring your finance costs helps you determine if your business is getting optimum interest on savings. You can also make data-driven decisions like refinancing a loan at a better rate or renegotiating payment processing fees.
Inventory storage can be expensive. Study the sales reports to identify optimum inventory levels for your products. This way, you can stock more fast-moving inventory and minimize slow-moving products to reduce inventory storage costs. In addition, you can plan your production goals depending on the market cycles for specific products.
The early stages of startup growth are the hardest, often laden with financial constraints. Typically, business owners experience high startup expenses, erratic cash flow, and limited experience in making informed financial decisions.
Nevertheless, you can monitor your business operating expenses to reduce excesses and ensure optimum profitability and growth. Ultimately, minimizing business operating costs for startups isn’t a one-off affair; it requires regular analysis to identify hidden financial opportunities.
I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.