A common myth is that growing a business is necessarily expensive. One prevailing thought is that because it ‘takes money to make money’, there needs to be a massive front-end investment in operations, sales, brick-and-mortar expansion, and other areas in order to really achieve the kind of growth that brings the most profits.
The reality is that there are tools, techniques, and novel approaches to business problem solving that can all work together to seriously reduce the overall cost required to grow a business – especially a startup. Growing your business on a tight budget can be achieved. The way to do it involves creative use of technology and ideas. Here are a few ways your own small business can scale up on the cheap.
Tap into the Power of Apps and Software
Software and apps can be huge helps in the areas of business process automation and workflow organization. Once a startup reaches a certain size, it’s going to need to have tools in place that allow for sustainable scaling. It’s for this reason that software packages specifically designed to scale with businesses are crucial assets for growing companies. This includes tax software like TurboTax or Quicken, as well as ERP software like SAP or Microsoft Dynamics.
One important area of business that can benefit greatly from the use of specialized software is payroll and scheduling. A lot of the ‘core HR’ functions of a company can be handled at least in some part by software. One great app solution for scheduling is When I Work, a smart work scheduling tool that gives employees quick and easy access to their schedules right from their mobile devices. They can request time off, make changes to their availability, and more, all without having to tax internal resources to do so. And the best part? It’s free for up to 75 users.
Don’t forget that it might make good financial sense to have your own app developed from scratch. If you have a particularly unique business model or if you’re not finding the right productivity tool for your unique needs, look into custom app development. Many companies that build their own app or software solutions end up saving a lot of money in the long run. For these businesses, it’s great to not be beholden to a software or app provider once your business’ needs really grow. This is generally referred to as ‘in-house’ software development, even though an outside contractor might be brought in to complete some of the technical work.
Use your Size to Your Advantage
One of the advantages of small businesses is that they’re more nimble than larger ones. This can translate into leaner, less costly operations if the right cost containment strategy is used. Smaller businesses can get more value out of simple, basic changes to supply chain, outsourcing, and sales strategies. Before any investment is made into growth initiatives, make sure that your business can’t improve in the area of cost-cutting. You might find that the money you save from switching your shipping services vendor ends up being enough to fund a game-changing new product launch.
It’s creative approaches like this that help growing businesses thrive. Another smart way to reduce costs is to leverage the value of your story and your passion. When you promote your company as a faceless, sterile entity, you’re missing out on a huge market of potential clients and business partners that want the story and the passion.
Growing a business doesn’t need to be all that expensive when, instead of making huge capital investments in infrastructure and other costly projects, you focus on building the narrative that customers want. Far too many businesses overlook the value that sits in their own stories and reasons for getting into business at all. But, that’s the gold. That’s what your future customers and investors want. And, that’s what will keep them coming back.
Enhance and Consolidate Supplier Relationships
Just about every business that is looking to grow has a dependence on suppliers. Everything from office supplies to raw goods for manufacturing have their source, and those companies that supply your company are only as good as the relationships you have with them. So, it pays in the long run to have fewer, higher-quality supplier relationships. Not only is this a cost-effective strategy, but it also frees your employees up to focus on other aspects of growing the business.
In many cases, multiple suppliers – perhaps even dozens – can be necessary to do business. But, as suppliers themselves grow, often their capacities grow along with them. This is why it’s a good idea to review your suppliers pricing and performance at least annually. In doing so, you might uncover hidden areas of saving money. It’s not uncommon for some suppliers to add products to their portfolio – products that you might have been getting from another supplier at a much higher cost. For the highest cost savings, take advantage of supplier consolidation at every opportunity.
Capitalize on Social Media and Networking
One of the best ways to increase awareness of your growing business but do so in a way that is easy on the budget is to look to social media and professional networking. Developing your ideal online presence doesn’t have to be super expensive. And, if you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of social media consultants who charge very reasonable rates to help in this arena. A meager investment in building your social media assets can very well contribute to exponential business growth as your brand message gets out to more and more of the right people.
Platforms like LinkedIn as well as other, industry-specific trade association websites offer huge opportunities to leverage social media to your benefit. In the case of LinkedIn, it’s easy for growing businesses to access the contact information they need for key individuals who can be instrumental in their success. Using this as a method to grow a business is incredibly cost-effective and requires only minimal understanding of social media as a whole. This makes it accessible and attractive for businesses of all sizes.
Adding it All Up
When you stop to consider just how much can be saved when you combine the strategies and techniques discussed above, growing a business on a budget becomes a lot more realistic.
We all want to see our businesses grow and scale in a sustainable, profitable way, and the way to get there is to learn from the growth of others and use what has worked elsewhere. Doing this in addition to embracing new technologies and staying committed to constant learning will fortify your chances of success in growing your own business.
Kevin is an entrepreneur who gets to follow his passion
Disclaimer: This is a guest post. “Guest” is not “Sponsored” and while the content is theirs, I selected and approved it as it covers a topic offering added value to businesses. As such, I want to thank them for giving me the opportunity to feature this guest content here.
Also published on Medium.