We can all do with more time and money. This is especially the case for small business owners where every little helps.
Below, you’ll find 60 tips for small business owners to save you both time and money.
1. Be practical. You can't expect to get everything done within a day.
2. Track your time. To find out where most of your time goes, keep a record of how you spend your time and what tasks take the longest to complete. Remember to include everything in your day when time tracking.
3. Resist the temptation to over-schedule. It’s easy to overestimate what you can accomplish in a short time.
4. Use technology. Search for different technology for every task you complete. Use organizational apps and go through every stage of your business, including recruiting, and use apps like Fountain’s modern hiring software to save time.
5. Organize your email. Email filters and archives save you hours by organizing your emails automatically. Set rules for emails so, when you receive them from certain recipients, they will automatically go into a certain folder.
6. Create a hiring strategy. The hiring process can take a long time and choosing the wrong candidates also adds extra time and pressure for a small business. To avoid these mistakes, use modern hiring software, like Fountain, to save you time and money while sourcing the best candidates.
7. Draw up a plan. Every successful small business has a strategy. Work out what you want to get done within a day and then make a plan to get there.
8. Concentrate on results. Before even starting a task, think about the results you’ll get for your small business. Make sure that the task you start is worth your effort.
9. Identify your goals. Every morning, you should write a to-do list of what you want to get done that day any ideas you have for your small business. Ideally, you should have three major things to accomplish. Anymore and you’ll likely become overwhelmed.
10. Stay clear of distractions. There are so many things that pull on a small business owner’s time, such as social media. It's even worse if you work at home. Have a routine that includes turning off the TV, email and social media notifications while you're working.
11. Learn to say no. Everyone wants something at some point. Taking this small business advice will help you save hours by prioritizing your time to the most important tasks..
12. Make sure your workspace is in order. An untidy desk can waste time because you’ll be looking through piles just to find one thing. Use organizational furniture to make sure everything is in one place.
13. Always expect the unexpected. As much as you plan, there will be things that pop up from time to time, like emergencies. You need to leave some wiggle room on your to-do list to deal with anything that might crop up.
14. Allocate a certain amount of time for social media and checking emails. With 60 small business tips and ideas on this list, this may be one of most valuable for small business owners. Social media and email are two of the biggest time sucks for small business owners. Instead of responding to every email that comes in, organize a time when you just respond to emails and check social media. Also, use social media scheduling tools to ensure that you’re not spending time updating your accounts.
15. Make use of mobile apps. There are a wide range of mobile apps such as calendar apps, to-do lists and productivity apps that can help you organize your day and save time.
16. Make room for breaks. You should schedule a few break times during your day to make sure you avoid burnout. This is one of the best business tips for small business owners.
17. Cut down large tasks. It's impossible to get large tasks done in a day so, when you create your to-do list, make sure you break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable jobs.
18. Choose a cloud-based calendar. Calendar apps can keep you updated because you’ll be reminded of deadlines, meetings and other important events to stay on top of everything.
19. Get a virtual assistant (VA). VAs can help you to complete repetitive tasks, which is crucial for time management as a small business owner. So, create a system and hire a VA to do tasks that will eat into your time.
20. Cut back on meetings. Sometimes, small business owners have meetings for meetings sake. Analyze every potential outcome of a meeting to determine whether it's important. When you do have a meeting, make sure you have a strict agenda and stick to it.
21. Include quiet hours. As a small business owner, you’re probably the one that everyone will come to when they have an issue. However, this could eat into your time. Have a designated time to have a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door, so your employees know that they just can't walk into your office at any time.
22. Put reminders in place. When your deadlines loom, set a reminder at a specific time in advance, for example, one hour, two hours or even five hours before.
23. Delegate tasks. When you’re a small business owner, it’s easy to believe that you’re the best person to do everything. You should trust the team you’ve hired to take on tasks that you normally do. This is key to keep a small business running. If training is required, provide training courses and materials, so that they will know what to do.
24. Organize your projects. You can use project organizational tools, like Asana or Trello, to make sure all your projects are in one place. This will help you know where everything is and save you time searching for relevant information.
25. Create templates. If you do certain tasks over and over again, design templates to plug-and-play information. For example, if you’re a hiring manager or HR person, you can use job templates to save you time when recruiting. Try our ready-to-use job description templates here.
26. Prioritize urgent tasks. If your projects have urgent deadlines, make sure that you get to them first, so they’re completed on time.
27. Use virtual meeting software. Traveling takes a lot of time, especially if you're in a high traffic area. Use virtual meeting software, like GoToMeeting or Zoom, to virtually meet with your clients, team or anyone else.
28. Prioritize tasks by importance. You need to decide which tasks on your to-do list are important enough to get priority. Keep these important tasks at the top of your to-do list.
29. Do tasks in batches. Try to do all similar tasks at the same time.
30. Use the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique that uses a timer to break down your work into intervals. You normally work for 25 minutes and then take a short break. This means you'll concentrate on a task fully for 25 minutes before taking a break.
31. Make use of independent contractors. After you’ve made sure your independent contractors fit the IRS definition, you don't have to withhold or pay any taxes, which will save you money in the long run. Also, independent contractors are generally not entitled to benefits, like health insurance.
32. Hire your sales team on commission. If you hire a full-time sales force, overheads like incentives, training and salaries with benefits soon mount up. If you contract out your sales team and pay them on commission, it’s less costly than hiring them full-time.
33. Use college students. College students are very capable and want experience in your field. You can visit your local college and give students a chance to be part of a business by hiring them as interns.
34. Hire when you need it. Instead of hiring full-time employees who may not be doing anything while business is slow, use temporary employees. You can use temp agencies to find hourly employees, and make sure to use this interview preparation checklist to find the best candidates.
35. Keep an eye on your spending. You need to know how much money you spend every day, week and month. If you don't monitor your spending, you could be piling up bills that you don't know about.
36. Use clever advertising techniques. To advertise your business, include promotions for different things in your invoices and also at points of purchase. You can include coupons, newsletters or other promotional flyers in the bag when customers buy items.
37. Make your business mobile. Setting up a shop, including getting a lease, insurance, etc. costs a lot of money. Why not set up a pop up shop or kiosk and use it as a temporary space? There are shorter license agreements for kiosks, therefore, you’ll be spending less every month, enabling you to cut down overheads while boosting your customer base.
38. Keep your personal and business funds separate. You should have a separate bank account for your business. Even if you don't need to do so, it makes sense because it’s easy to track your spending and the profitability of your business through a business bank account.
39. Avoid giving credit. If you must extend credit, make sure you do a strict and thorough check of your client’s credit history. If you find that your client isn’t creditworthy, ask for cash in advance and provide part of the products or services to get paid in installments.
40. Manage your inventory. Have you ever ordered too much inventory to find that it's been left in a storeroom? Are you running out of goods and then losing money because your customers aren't able to buy them? A great small business trick is to invest in a point of sale system with an inventory management function to manage your inventory.
41. Negotiate with your consultants. If you work with a group of professionals, for example, accountants or lawyers, and you’ve developed a good relationship with them, ask them whether they would give you a discount for being a loyal customer.
42. Keep an eye on your petty cash. Even though you don't need receipts for expenses under $75, you should still keep a close eye on your petty cash account. If you don't, small expenses can add up and cost your small business money.
43. Do your due diligence on medical insurance. Before choosing a medical insurance provider for you and your employees, ask for detailed information such as past claims and the loss ratio of paid claims to premiums.
44. Recruit your children. If your children are 14 years old or older and pay their own taxes, they’re in a lower tax bracket. You can hire them and take advantage of this lower tax bracket, so you can transfer income from your business to your children to save money.
45. Review tax deductions if you work from home. As well as being able to deduct some of your mortgage interest, rent and utilities as business expenses, you can also deduct a percentage of your maintenance expenses if you work from home. You can also deduct part of the cost of servicing your house, for example, taking care of your lawn or cleaning. There's more information on the IRS website about tax deductions when working from home.
46. Become part of an association. When you join a business or trade association, you’ll see that some of them give discounts on different things, like travel, car rentals, insurance and prescriptions.
47. Use a budget. Irrespective of the size of your business, you need to create a budget, so you know how best to manage your money. A budget shows how much you need to operate your business and to make a profit.
48. Put your payments on a timer. Find out from suppliers whether they provide discounts for early payments. If they don’t, take advantage of paying your bills, taxes and suppliers as late as possible as long as you don't incur a fee. The longer you have your money under your control, the more interest you can earn.
49. Scrutinize your taxes. If you have a local business and are new to a certain community, you might be paying a higher tax rate than other businesses that have been in the neighborhood for a longer time. Visit City Hall to find out what others are paying. If you find that they’re paying a lower rate, negotiate a better tax rate for your business.
50. Find at least three bids. When looking to buy or lease anything, try to find at least three bids. Shop around and, when you contact a competitor, mention that you've received a lower price elsewhere to see if they can match (or better) the price.
51. Have a cash reserve. Sometimes, emergencies happen in small businesses and the amount of cash you have in reserve will determine whether your business survives. Start a cash reserve by opening a business savings account into which you make deposits regularly.
52. Avoid lawsuits. To avoid lawsuits, make sure that you’re aware of all laws pertaining to different parts of businesses. But even if you do everything right, it doesn't mean you won’t get accused of wrongdoing. Lawsuits and arbitration are very expensive. Try to work out any issues with people who want to bring a lawsuit against your business before getting attorneys involved. Always make sure you deal with written complaints from employees, clients and anyone else in a professional way.
53. Make use of your friends and family. Ask people you know for referrals to others they may know who could benefit your business.
54. Purchase used equipment. Not everything you buy for your small business must be new. You can save more than 50% when buying used computer equipment and office furniture. Just because it's used doesn’t mean it has to be poor quality. Go to auctions and newspaper classifieds to find high quality equipment for cheaper.
55. Get clear with your attorney. When taking on an attorney, make sure you have a clear, written fee agreement that you understand. This will prevent any surprises down the line. The fee agreement should include an estimate of the time that will be spent on your case and what's covered for their fee.
56. Compare credit cards. If you normally have an unpaid balance on your credit card at the end of the month, you need to shop around for a lower interest rate. Ask your credit card issuer to put aside the annual fee or reduce the interest rate. This is especially the case if you pay your credit card in full.
57. Stay away from card advances. Try to avoid taking cash advances on your credit cards because the fees are normally around 2% and you start accruing interest immediately.
58. Position yourself as an expert. You can teach a class or speak at a community meeting or even do some writing for your local newspaper about your area of expertise. This will not only position you as an expert, but also market your business while earning you some extra money.
59. Reduce your cost with an online store. Starting an online store doesn’t have to be expensive. You can start by selling whatever you have on sites, like eBay. If you do want to have a website, use free or low-cost website builders, like Wix.
60. Learn a new skill. If you know you’ll be doing something often, you should learn the related skill. For example, if you want to write press releases about your company, take courses on learning platforms like Udemy. This way, you’ll learn a skill that you would be paying companies thousands of dollars for.
All the above tips and tricks for small business owners will help you save time and money in your small business. As mentioned, one of the best ways to save time and money is to hire the best staff the first time. With Fountain, hire as many employees as you need simply and efficiently.