I have worked in businesses and offices since 1989 and before that I was brought up in the family hotel business. Always being accountancy minded I am forever looking for ways to save money for businesses and for myself. Especially these days when everyone is feeling the pinch. So I thought I’d suggest some ways to save money with some office and business expenses. A lot of these are probably obvious but if it just helps one person then I’ll feel I’ve achieved something.
Employees and Bonus Savings
If you want to give your staff a bonus – be it Xmas time or as an incentive for targets reached – then use One-4-All cards from the post office or online. Currently you can pay up to €250 per employee per annum using these cards and it’s tax free. If you were to pay the employee a net bonus of €250 it would normally cost the company €577 once you add the taxes on. Using the One-4-All card it just costs the business €250. Please note this example is for Irish companies only – perhaps your country has a similar scheme you can tell me about in the comments below.
Ensure you keep the receipt and which employee it refers to for accountancy and tax purposes or you can’t claim them. These vouchers can be spent in 5300 outlets in Ireland at the moment. Perhaps ask your employees for cost saving ideas and reward the best ones with €50 One-4-all vouchers – they can have up to 5 each a year then – and you may get some good ideas for the business too.
If you are just starting off or don’t want to have the overheads of employees and an office then use a Virtual Office provider – they can receive your post, answer your calls and emails, be your secretary, PA, right-hand man or woman, do your bookkeeping, sales, adhoc duties and much more. You can pick and choose which services you need and it can grow with you as your business grows. At the beginning you may need to be on the road a lot or in meetings so it is handy to have someone back at base so to speak.
Shop around for a good telephone provider – there are good deals to be had out there and don’t just fall for the clever sales spiel that some will give you. If you can, do a spread sheet for comparison so the best that suits you stands out.
Personally I use www.U.tv and for just €9.99 a month on top of the normal rental I get free Irish and UK landline calls. My mobile is on a deal to get free calls to Irish mobiles. So I know which phone to use to get free calls and never receive an “outrageous” phone bill. Skype and other VOIP services are very cheap too – but make sure they work clearly for you before going down that route.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on advertising when you’re starting off or if you don’t have the money.
- Social media is free – it just uses up your time and you need to be prepared to spend time on it. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Google+ are great ways to spread the word of your business. Write a blog and become an expert person that people refer to.
- Write press releases – or get someone to do them for you – and highlight something unique and interesting about your business.
- Run competitions on social media (within their rules) to get people talking about you and spreading the word.
- Attend networking meetings – making sure you have cards and/or brochures ready to hand out. You may not meet anyone there who needs your services but people will now know about you and mention to others if they are looking for your service.
Don’t just opt for a cheap printer as inevitably the ink cartridges will cost you a fortune and if used a lot will probably need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Shop around for the best options and think longevity and cost of ink cartridges rather than thinking this is a cheap one so I’ll get this – as I have learnt to my own cost.
Buy second hand furniture for your office. If your office is only being seen by yourselves then why go for the top of the range? And sometimes even second hand looks absolutely fine. Often there are Office Clearance sales and you can get computer equipment cheap too.
Stationery and Other Business Expenses
If you are Vat registered always get a Vat receipt when you buy your stationery or cleaning products for the office. That makes them cheaper as you can claim the vat back – and they are a business expense which you can offset against profits. This applies for any other business expenses too. Think how much the Vat is on everything and consider it like a refund when you’re doing your Vat return. Make sure it’s a valid Vat receipt though.
Often it is cheaper to buy in bulk or when something is on special offer. If it’s something you know you are going to use then it doesn’t matter if it’s not used for a while – you bought it when it was cheap so it’s a saving in advance.
Speaking as an accountant please keep those receipts folks. How do we know that €59.99 was spent on stationery and not a toy for your child. No receipt = no business expense and no Vat claim back either.
Archive your paperwork every year or sooner if you have a lot. Use treasury tags and take your filed paperwork from the ring binders keeping it together and in order using the treasury tags. Use a file divider or similar at the top and bottom to keep it neat and write what the file is on the front page. These can be boxed easier and use up less storage than the ring binders. And hopefully the ring binders are good to go for another year so you don’t need to buy new ones.
I hope the above proves that you don’t just have to dive straight in to a swanky office and everything looking like Google office’s younger cousin with a receptionist just waiting to take calls. During the start of your business you can probably be working from home, using a Virtual Office as mentioned. Keep it simple and cheap – don’t’ spend the money until you start earning it and know that you can afford it.
If you have any more suggestions for saving money in your business I’d love to hear about them.
Related: Top Ten Tips For Managing Your Books