Three Sure-Fire Cost-Cutting Moves For Solopreneurs And Small Business Owners

Ever since I started my own solo business, something a SCORE mentor said during a startup workshop six years ago has stuck Dollar bills graphicwith me:


“Money is the language of business. For your business to thrive, you need to learn to speak the language.”


He didn’t mean that all that matters in business is the money, but rather that your business financials tell how effectively you’re running your business. You need to have some understanding of profit and loss and other accounting basics.


No business is too small to care about profitability. Even for a very small business like mine, a healthy profit matters.


But what if, like me, you only have so many viable options for increasing your revenue without adding headcount or complexity to your operations? How do you boost your profitability then?


I think you already know the answer: Cut costs.


Three Ways Your Small Business Can Cut Costs


Think Before You Spend

Is it a “must have” or a “nice to have”? Obviously, the “must haves”—the things you need to do your job and keep your business running—shouldn’t be ignored. But the “nice to haves” can usually wait.


Before you buy, ask yourself…


  • Do I need this to effectively create or deliver my products and services to my clients?
  • Will my brand be at a competitive disadvantage if I don’t buy this?
  • Can I make more money if I buy this?
  • Will I use this?


This applies to anything and everything—from business software to networking group memberships.


Use Tools That Free Up Your Time

When you’re running a very small business, especially one that’s service-based, your time IS money. The more time you spend on the administrative and marketing aspects of your business, the less time you have to spend on revenue-producing work. Over the past several years, I’ve been using—and have seen others use—a number of online platforms and mobile apps that make various tasks far less cumbersome and time consuming.


A few you might want to check out include:


Quote Roller powered by PandaDoc – Online software for generating proposals and securing contracts


With Quote Roller becoming PandaDoc in 2015, the software also provides sales document management capabilities. I’ve been using Quote Roller for the past two years to send proposals to clients, which then become executed agreements when they sign off with their electronic signatures. With the ability to save pre-written text blocks to a library for future use, the platform makes it far quicker and easier to “roll out” proposals than crafting all pieces from scratch.


Trello – For coordinating efforts and managing projects


I’ve used several other project management tools when clients have insisted, and I have yet to experience one that is more streamlined and straightforward than Trello. The drag-and-drop interface and simple collaborative features have helped me keep projects with multiple moving parts and players well organized and on track.


QuickBooks Online* – For invoicing clients, recording all business financial transactions, and keeping tax information in one central place


I’ve used this for the past three years and I enjoy the intuitive interface in addition to the peace of mind that all of my financial data is automatically backed up.


Invoice2go – Mobile app providing the ability to invoice clients immediately onsite with a debit or credit card


Invoice2go can save entrepreneurs time and help them get paid faster by giving them a convenient, on-the-spot way to take care of business. I haven’t used this app because it’s rare that I would need to invoice clients at their locations, but I can see how it would save other small businesses a lot of time and headaches.


Hootsuite – Social media management tool for posting to and monitoring activity on social media platforms


I primarily use Hootsuite for keeping up with the fast pace of Twitter. It has saved me gobs of time, enabling me to see activity of users on my various Twitter lists through a single dashboard. And I don’t know what I’d do without the Hootlet browser extension. With it, I can compose and schedule tweets to share content directly from the web pages I’m visiting.


Shop Around For The Best Deal

I feel almost silly including this tip, but I know people who buy from the first place they find an item if the price sounds reasonable enough. As you’re equipping your office, whether it’s at home or at another site, look for sales and special deals in print and online. It just seems wrong to buy anything (especially big ticket items like copiers/printers, computers, etc.) at full retail price when there are ALWAYS deals somewhere at all times. Yes, it may take a little research and time, but what you save will likely make it well worth your while.


Frugality Pays Off  

Don’t confuse frugality with being cheap. There’s a difference.


If you’re frugal, you’re economically savvy and conscious of getting the best products and services at the best possible price.


Cheap means wanting whatever costs the very least regardless of quality.


Frugality will give you the wherewithal to cut costs without compromising your business integrity and reputation.

The Frugal Solopreneur: How to Keep Living Costs Down While You’re Building Your Business

Having gone from a cushy corporate salary to what can be a “feast or famine” revenue stream as a solopreneur, there’s

Grocery savings reaped by a frugal solopreneur

Frugal solopreneurs can save BIG on organics and brand names by shopping smart.

one thing that I learned quickly as a new business owner: Every penny counts.

Luckily, savvy saving habits have become in vogue given the general state of our economy. Where at one time it was in to flaunt extravagance, now people respect others for their ability to find ways to get what they need on the cheap. With no shame in wanting to save, why would you not want to flex your frugal muscles?

Here are a few livable ways to trim living costs as you build your business…

  • Brew your own coffee – It amazes me how many solopreneurs, even those who work from home, drive to the nearest Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts for coffee on a daily basis. Is the $4 latte really worth it? Provided you have a coffee maker and know how to steam milk, you can do it yourself and save a bundle. Plus, you’ll save yourself on the fuel expense, too. You’ve seen the prices on the pump lately.


  • Cluster – and kill two birds – when scheduling appointments –When you’re scheduling business appointments for any given week, try to arrange them so that you’re meeting on the same day and in the same general area. That will not only keep gas expenses in check, but it will also cut the time you spend in transit. Bonus!


  • Shop discount grocery first, conventional grocery stores second – I’ll be honest, not too many years ago I would have NEVER stepped into a discount grocery store. But I’m on board now. We’ve got two in our area that offer tremendous variety and quality – especially on a lot of organic and gluten free products that typically cost an arm and a leg at health food stores. My M.O. is to shop at these stores first to buy whatever we can find there that’s on our list…and then my husband goes to the regular grocery store later (with coupons in hand) to pick up whatever else we need. The only downside to the discount stores is that they have a revolving door inventory, so a favorite item might be there today, but gone tomorrow. And be sure to check expiration dates!


  • Wear it again, Sam  – Recycling is fashionable – and stores like Goodwill and thrift shops are all the rage. Way before I started freelancing, I was a thrift store junkie. Seriously, it’s a rush to find really cool brand name clothes for “pinch me I must be dreaming” prices. Yes, it can take some time and effort to dig through the racks to find your size and specific pieces that you like, but it’s very worth it in my opinion. Treat it like a treasure hunt – there are gems to be found.

Whether you’re a brand new solopreneur or have been in business for a longer while, smart spending and saving never go out of style. In a way, it’s become a bit of a game…maybe even a sport…for my family. Bragging rights to whoever makes it to the end line with the best deal this week!

Has being in business for yourself made you more frugal? How have you cut your living costs to get more for your dollars?