It’s a challenge you accepted when you started working independently – your success would be tied to your own smart business decisions. What you decide to do with your money is an important part of that challenge. Which purchases are smart investments? Which are simply wastes of money? Good news: we’ve identified three areas where you can cut costs, and three where splurging could actually pay off.
Maybe you’ve heard that a new car depreciates by 10% the moment you drive it off the lot. The same is often true for much of the equipment you’ll need for your business, including office furniture and appliances. By shopping for pre-owned necessities, you’d be surprised at how often you can find what you need in "like new" condition for a significant discount.
We know it’s tempting to rush out and buy the latest device with a lowercase “i” in the name that they’ve somehow put a touchscreen on, but there are three reasons that you’ll likely be better off waiting. First, consider need versus want. Can you quantify how this new gadget will improve your productivity? Next, remember that the first version of a brand new technology nearly always contains flaws that will be improved upon in subsequent versions. Finally, if you’ve decided that the product will indeed justify the purchase, keep in mind that prices often drop shortly after release. As the novelty wears off, you can purchase what you want at a better price – or even pre-owned.
You want to project an image of success, but while that private office in a fashionable section of town may seem enticing, it could be an unnecessary expense. As an independent consultant, you’ll likely have choices for setting up your working location. Many choose to work out of a home office, designating a specific area of their house into a room for business while avoiding extra spending on rent and utilities. Coworking facilities are also an alternative growing in popularity. They give workers the benefits of an office environment, often complete with equipment and conference rooms for meeting with clients, at a fraction of the price of a private office.
Times are tight, and it may seem that a $50 work chair from an office supply store makes more sense than spending hundreds of dollars on seating. However, when the back spasms or wrist pains that tend to accompany cheap equipment strike, chances are you’ll wish you’d spent the extra money on ergonomic upgrades. Items that increase your physical comfort will more than pay for themselves in the long run by making your work more enjoyable and increasing productivity.
While paying top dollar for the latest trends may not make sense, purchasing high-quality technology is still a smart investment. You aren’t actually saving money if your cheap knockoff computer needs to be replaced every few months. Your purchases don’t have to be brand new or top-of-the-line, but for an item you use regularly, buying a reputable brand that is built to last is worth the extra cash.
The days of the Yellow Pages are over. In order for potential clients to find you, a strong online presence in the form of a web site is practically a necessity. The quality of that presence has become the standard by which modern businesses and professionals are often judged. Cheap, slapped-together websites can give the impression of an amateur, unprofessional business. Spending tens of thousands of dollars on website design isn’t necessarily required, but hiring a professional to design your site will boost your professional image, assuring visitors that you are an established, qualified expert that they can trust. Not ready for a full website? Keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date and using a free blogging tool to create a subject matter blog are two low-cost and effective ways to use the Web to market yourself.
High-Earning Independents –those making more than $100,000 per year – have grown 45% over the past five years. There are now 2.9 million Full-Time Independents – 16% of the total population, up from just 2 million in 2011.
Common independent workforce industry terms defined.