8 Ways To Cut Expenses When You’re Self Employed

By MBO Partners | June 7, 2024

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Key Points

Even if every business budget could use a little tightening, independent contractors face lower profit margins than larger businesses.

It's even more important than ever to keep costs down as a small business owner.

Here are 8 ways for independent contractors to reduce costs to free up money for more important uses.

Checking your spending and reassessing your expenses should be a regular activity in your business.  Dealing with smaller profit margins than large companies makes minimizing expenses a critical success factor for you.

Here are eight practices to incorporate into your business that can help keep your costs down.

1. Pay Invoices Early

Many suppliers offer discounts for paying invoices as soon as you receive them. Not only will paying early save you money right away, but it will also help build the foundation of a strong relationship which can lead to more room for negotiating lower prices in the future.

2. Reduce Inventory Levels

Buying in bulk may reduce the price of each item, but a large order still costs significantly more than a small one. Consider whether you really need to tie up that much of your working capital. For example, do you really need a year’s worth of paper at one time?

3. Hire an Intern or Virtual Assistant

Opportunity cost is just as much of a factor in saving money as cutting actual expenses. If you are using your valuable time to perform menial tasks such as filing paperwork, organizing tax documents, or reviewing contracts, instead of revenue-producing activities, you are losing money. Engaging an intern or assistant allows you to delegate less specialized tasks and focus on running your business.

4. Negotiate with Other Businesses

Rather than spending money on products or services, work with other small business owners to negotiate a deal in which you provide them with an equivalent amount of services from your own business in exchange for what you need. Just be sure to lay out the terms of the deal in a contract to make it a legal transaction.

5. Use Open Source Software

The high cost of software can put a serious dent in the budget of your business, especially if you use several different specialized programs. Open source software provides free alternatives to many popular programs and files can usually be converted easily into formats compatible with client needs.

6. Avoid Perpetual Payments

Some recurring payments like utilities are inescapable, but whenever it’s possible to buy equipment outright rather than lease it, consider doing so. If you’re able to find used or refurbished equipment, you may be able to realize even greater savings. Not only will you have one less payment to worry about each month, but you’ll also be able to take advantage of the tax benefits that depreciation brings. If you must make an ongoing payment, use an automated or online bill-paying tool, often available through your bank, to save the hassle and cost of mailing in bills.

Review your online subscriptions periodically to make sure you are not paying for products or services that you don’t use.

7. Negotiate Lower Credit Card APRs

Many independent professionals use credit cards to pay for business expenses. What is the annual percentage rate on yours? Often, credit card companies are willing to work with cardholders to lower rates, which can save your business a great deal of money, both in the short and long term.

8. Modernize your Marketing Efforts

Naturally, you don’t want to stop using paid advertising that is effective, but it may be beneficial to look at less expensive options to help you reduce your expenses.

Create an email list for your customers and put a referral scheme in place. Traditional marketing strategies might not be as effective in generating sales as a referral from an existing client. Make eye-catching email marketing campaigns for your clients. Offer them unique deals and coupons only for signing up.

Learn More: Ways to market your small business

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