When you’re in business, especially a small business, there’s always going to be a concern about money. Do you have enough to keep you going? Can you manage to buy the supplies and equipment you need? What about money to join organizations and participate in networking? It can be hard to determine what is worth it, and what can be eliminated from you budget.
When I originally started my business I joined a few organizations, signed up for all kinds of services and attended many different networking events. As soon as someone told me about some new group, I signed up. I thought that as a business owner I had to be a part of every business organization and attend every event.
In time I realized that every event and organization was not helpful or worth my investment. I learned the hard way that though something may seem like a good idea, it may not be the best idea for you or your business. I started to pull back on memberships, subscriptions and services. As far as supplies, I kept a more careful accounting of what I was using. It’s amazing how expensive it can be when one adds up costs for ink and paper! In my corporate job I was used to printing and copying documents without thinking about the cost.
In time I also started to think about what books and home study courses I was buying. As soon as I’d read about a new book or set of materials that would show me how to grow my business, I would go and buy it. Then, inevitably the book would sit on my shelf collecting dust because I had no time to read it. I spent the first year of my business spending a lot of money that I now realize could’ve been directed elsewhere. Though it can be frustrating to look back at my lack of awareness about what was worth investing in (and what wasn’t) it was a learning experience. Being a business owner means that a lot of your learning will involve a great deal of trial and error. You try something and if it works you do more. If it doesn’t work try something else.
Consider these spending tips:
1. Set aside a budget for business books and materials before you start buying.
2. Keep track of expenditures in an Excel spreadsheet if you can’t afford to buy a more expensive software program
3. Be realistic about the money you need to spend to keep your business running. Not investing in hardware or software upgrades may hurt you more in the long run.
4. Can’t afford to have an elaborate website designed? A web presence is essential for a small business. At the very least invest in a domain name and get email capabilities, then use a free blogging account to host your web page.
5. Consider using free or low-cost social networking sites as an alternative to attending more expensive networking meetings and events.
It’s important for business owners to have a realistic picture of their finances. I know it may seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t consider finance to be your strong suit. However, just taking the time to look at what you really need to spend right now (and what can wait) can help you stay solvent during times of economic churn.