One of your biggest per-employee infrastructure costs comes from money tied up in software licenses. If you add new people, you could cough up thousands of dollars right then. And that money you paid stops working for you as soon as you lose employees, as those licenses sit unused.
Depending on your software, you can address both issues by buying subscriptions, in bulk, choosing used licenses, or selling full licenses when no longer needed. Keep these options in mind, especially if you're scaling temporary workers.
Pay Monthly For Software Many companies offer monthly subscriptions for software licenses. On the server side, for example, this model can save a big, single fee for per-user Exchange licenses. But a monthly plan for workstations can also help you save.
In lean times--or anytime--I like to save money in any way possible. Even small amounts add up. With that in mind, if you keep a good, current audit of business hardware, you can save in ongoing taxes and insurance.
You might already reap the benefits from this simple tip if you have a tight grip on accounting. But if not, you could be paying extra for hardware you no longer use.
For best results, keep a current list of in-use hardware in a spreadsheet, database, or accounting program. Instead of making only annual revisions at tax time, you'll instantly see if major changes can impact your insurance costs. For example, if you get rid of workstations after employees leave, you could immediately reduce coverage and premiums.
Panda Security has released Cloud Antivirus, a malware-protection tool that mostly resides on a network cluster instead of your PC. The free tool just installs a small client on your computer to connect online. While a self-described beta, Cloud Antivirus could be worth much more than its free price by the way it cuts your risks and administration costs.
Traditional antivirus tools work by detecting suspicious activities on your PC and by researchers at your antivirus company identifying threats. In the former situation, the antivirus tool is supposed to step in to block malware even if the tool has no specific knowledge of that exact strain. More often, protection comes through updates from the security company, with the exact details of new attacks.
But both situations rely on communications between your PC and the antivirus company. If your PC identifies a new threat, the antivirus company can use that data to create a cure for you. If the company--or your PC--identifies a new threat, its next update can inoculate all users.
I used to think the post office's biggest, modern innovation was the transition from lickable to sticker stamps. But a host of online shipping tools can save you money and time; you might never have to wait in line at your local branch again. Especially with the upcoming, May 11, 2-cent price hike, consider those online tools to manage your shipping needs.
You'll benefit most in saved time. Instead of visiting a branch, you can order shipping boxes and envelopes at no cost, with no delivery charge. You can also place orders for stamps and other paid necessities to be delivered. And an online postage calculator gives you current rates based on your package destination and weight.
Instead of using stamps, online tools let you buy and print postage for a package. You can easily automate your shipping, especially for repeating destinations. Just weigh your package, pick a rate, and print the label.
I contracted a single designer to create logos in previous business branding. Our back-and-forth process worked, but it got pricy, and I wasted a lot of time as we kept trying new iterations. For my next business, I'm trying LogoTournament. The site inverts the idea of one designer spending a lot of time; here many designers spend a little time, each submitting their ideas. The winner nets my prepaid bounty, and I get full rights to the logo.
I was a little skeptical to turn to the Internet masses versus a single designer. Anyone can upload ideas. But only a few days into my contest so far, I already have a few submissions that could work, among a dozen other attempts. As we get closer to my week-long deadline, I expect more designers to add entries. Other contests paying as little as $250 are getting 100 or more entries, but if you don't get at least 30, LogoTournament offers a refund.
The process still relies on your direction, just like with a single, known designer. You'll fill out an initial, identity questionnaire to describe the business or product. And about a dozen sliders give more guidance, letting you decide if you want the logo to be more playful or serious, or quiet or loud, for example.
Large companies have long saved costs by outsourcing certain tasks to cheaper labor markets. As long as they get quality results--say from phone-based customer service workers--customers rarely care. Now, several web companies offer overseas outsourcing suited to medium- or small-businesses; you'll be able to save costs over local help, expand your business without adding employees, or both.
Many services are available, including Brickwork India, Get Friday, Longer Days, MyEmployee Solutions, and Tasks EveryDay. Costs typically range from about $7 an hour to $1,200 or more each month, depending on your needs. For example, some of the cheaper services are great for simple receptionist tasks. Others offer workers with MBA degrees, CPA certification, IT background, and other relevant experience at a higher cost.
In this shaky economy, these solutions make more sense than scaling up your workforce. I like to think of them as a test; if you sustain more business with outsourced help, then consider adding permanent employees. And if you've had to reduce your company size, maybe you can restore some of those missed roles through outsourcing.
Want to cut up to half your paper and ink budget? Just use half as much paper. Yeah, it sounds like the punchline to a sad joke--I won't quit my day job--but this simple tip can work.
You'll print two pages of a document to a single sheet of paper. This technique is perfect for items that require a physical paper trail that you're not likely to look at deeply later. But even websites, email, and other documents can remain legible at half their size. Here's how to shrink prints and your office supply costs.