1) Ask people you know for advice
Why spend money on bringing in the experts if you can call upon your friends and contacts for some free words of wisdom? A lot of the time people will be happy to help, especially if you can offer them something in return. Be fair like that and people will be more willing to help again further down the line.
2) Generate word of mouth
Referrals are vital to a business, and word of mouth is the age-old, tried and tested way of bringing customers and clients to your door. Of course it’s important that you offer a good service first, but there’s no harm in asking your friends and family to spread the good word. That way you’re not spending more on advertising than necessary.
3) Make yourself an expert
Another way of making sure you don’t have to pay to get your name out there is by exhibiting your expertise outside of the workplace. For example you could submit articles to your local newspaper or relevant magazines, or you could speak at an event, community meeting or on a course.
4) Don’t go for 5-star interiors
You don’t have to feel like you’re living in the Ritz to do your job well, so don’t splurge on luxury, top of the range chairs, desks or cabinets for your office. You can build up to something more comfortable over time, but why not run a minimalist office in the early days?
5) Look for free
It sometimes feels like you have to pay top dollar to get the best software, but more and more there are free packages you can download to help your business run smoothly and efficiently. For example, Google Hangout is a free video conferencing tool which gives you a business boost without hitting your pocket.
6) Go green
If you keep an eye on your emissions, the amount of time you have lights and computers on, and other green issues such as this, then not only will you be helping the environment but you’ll be making good savings on your bills. Using recycled materials is also cheaper and better for the planet, so look around for recycled paper and printer cartridges to name but two things.
7) Think about freelancers
There are pros and cons to employing your own dedicated workforce, and similarly there are pros and cons to using freelancers. One of the benefits of freelancers is that you can employ a skeleton staff (possible just you) and they can come in to help with the odd important job. That way you’re not paying a salary but you’re still getting the work done.
8) Be social
Social media is a vital part of any business, be it established and wealthy or young and poor. The best thing about social media for a start-up or SME – other than the fact it keeps you current and in touch with your customers – is that it costs nothing to use. Whether you’re Tweeting, building a Facebook page or uploading tutorials onto YouTube, you are in touch with your audience without spending a single dirham.
9) Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate
You never know when you could bag yourself a bargain, so always be prepared to negotiate. Whether it’s office space, contract terms, salaries, or anything else, there’s good money to be saved, so if you’re serious about keeping your outgoings to a bare minimum, make sure you push for the best deal you can get.