Guest post provided on behalf of the faculty and staff of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business Executive Online Education. Notre Dame Online provides professional courses and masters certificates in the areas of Negotiations, Business Administration, Leadership & Management and Advanced Intercultural Management for the current and aspiring business professional.
A major concern for new small business owners is the overhead that they are required to pay before they can clear their first dollar of profit. Most prospective business owners suffer with the doubt of opening their own businesses because of the initial investments and the business development period that is inevitable in every new venture. Fortunately, with a few intelligent guidelines and some effective negotiation training, you can leave your doubts behind and get creative. Below you will find the first five ways to get your negotiating skills flowing to help tame the beast of excessive operating costs.
Should You Work From Home or Find an Office?
If you work from home, educate yourself on all the plausible tax savings and parameters. It is far better to take the time to learn the most current and correct information in order to maximize the savings you are due than it is to simply leave them on the table. Worse yet, if you move forward without educating yourself, or receive poor advice about handling your taxes, you could end up in a stressful and intimidating tax audit.
1. Always give your taxes the attention and respect they deserve – it will pay off in the long run. Bankrate.com provides a dozen helpful deductions for your small business.
2. Do your research to find the best location for you and your customers. It could be possible to maximize the convenience factor for clients and save money by leasing out part of a larger space or by sharing a complementary space with another business if codes allow it. Get out and take a creative look around!
A chocolatier in a small town for instance, was able to lease a small space adjacent to a major copy store and next to a Chinese food restaurant. The space was basically an oversized entryway full of newspaper racks. The person who owned the building was more than willing to negotiate leasing and re-organizing to make money on wasted space, and the chocolatier is benefitting from the constant foot traffic. Read about other small spaces put to good use.
Also, remember that certain terms of a lease may be negotiable. Utilities, customizing the space and extras like snow removal, exterior power washing, and even lighting are all items that can be customized to maximize your dollars. Co-sharing or co-working in an office space is another way to save if you are just getting started. USA Today provides this great article with more information.
Re-think owning! Re-think everything!
Renting or leasing office furniture and other equipment can save you money, especially in the long run, should your needs change. With the speed at which technology becomes obsolete, leasing computer equipment and other peripherals can keep you from the pitfalls of a long term commitment and high maintenance costs.
3. A quick search on the Internet will bring up plenty of options for you to consider – and always remember to negotiate those costs.
4. Here’s another cost cutting tip to consider: Re-think waste. Can you boost your corporate image, have more to promote on your website, and save money by being more environmentally conscious? Re-think savings in terms of recycling, re-using, and reducing waste. Often a utility company will provide a free energy audit. The EPA also provides free resources to get you going. Not only will you be helping the environment, a growing number of consumers are seeking out “green” companies to do business with.
The Small Business Administration also has more energy saving resources listed by individual state.
5. Re-think the old barter system. Trade, barter, or look for rewards! For instance, Staples has a reward program for toner recycling – recycle your toner and get rewards to spend on other office items. Buy in bulk when possible. If you use packing material, can you get it from another company who receives it but doesn’t need it once they unload? Can you convert delivery vehicles to Bio diesel which uses dirty fry oil from fast food restaurants to make a cleaner and cheaper fuel source? One school in Maryland did, and they saved a bundle when they converted all of their busses to run on biodiesel fuel.
So far we’ve discussed several negotiable items that will help you get your small business off the ground. In part 2 of this series, we will discuss five more negotiable business opportunities that can help your bottom line after opening day has come and gone.
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