6 Ways to Cut Costs (& Boost Business) in a Tough Economy

You’ve no doubt heard about the economic turmoil all around us. Maybe the recession is hitting your business particularly hard. While there’s nothing we can do to fix the economy, here are some ideas you can implement today that will help you cut costs and save big bucks.

6. Make Friends with a Competitor

You’ve been in business long enough to know that you can’t please everyone. And why would you want to? There are some customers out there who just wouldn’t be a good fit to work with your company. But guess what… some other business is a great fit. And that’s okay. Because most of your customers wouldn’t be a good fit with their company.

Now that we’ve clarified that, working with the competition becomes a great opportunity. If you’re too expensive for some clients, refer them to someone less expensive. If you don’t offer exactly the service someone is looking for, tell them who does. You’ll quickly realize that you’re spending less time dealing with frustrated clients, and more time with the profitable ones. And what’s more, your competitors will start sending customers to you. It’s all about building good karma. Cost = FREE

5. Accept Payment Online

Do you offer online payment to your clients? If not, you probably should be. These days, people expect to be able to pay with their credit card. And they don’t trust letting that card out of their site. Offering online payment options through a reputable provider makes your business that much easier to work with. And the best part is, it’s not that difficult. Just 15 minutes to set up an account with PayPal or Google Checkout and you’ll be ready to accept payments from Visa, MasterCard, AmericanExpress, and Discover.

Your customers can feel safe that you won’t ever have access to their card, and you can rest easy knowing that nobody can break into your office and steal valuable information. Cost = FREE

4. Stop Mailing Invoices

How much time does your receptionist spend printing/folding/stuffing/addressing/mailing invoices each month? How much money do you spend on postage? paper? envelopes? Is tracking down late payments sucking up time that you could be using to make money? Enough is enough!

There are a mountain of companies that can automate your invoicing process including: Zoho Invoice (my personal preference), Invoice Journal (my 2nd favorite), FreshBooks, and Blinksale. These products take all the complication out of billing your clients.

For example with Zoho:

  • Just click on “Create a New Invoice”
  • Choose a client and the service performed
  • Verify the correct amount
  • Click “Save and Send”.

An invoice will be emailed to your client along with a link to make a secure payment via PayPal. If they forget to pay, a reminder will automatically be sent to them later. Zoho shows you at a glance how much you’ve invoiced, how much you’ve collected, and how much is still outstanding. Cost = FREE to send a few invoices; up to $35/month to send a lot of invoices.

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LinkedIn Adds Applications

LinkedIn has long been called Facebook for Business. Well it just stepped a little bit closer. On October 28, 2008 LinkedIn added applications. Fortunately, these aren’t useless time wasters like most of Facebook’s applications. Most of them actually add some interesting functionality. For example, one application connects your LinkedIn profile to your WordPress Blog. Another lets you embed presentations into your profile. 

(I wonder how long it will be until we hear about someone getting fired because they posted a company presentation that was only meant for internal use.)