Do you know you can save a significant amount of money on anything from office supplies and equipment, to a range of business services? Here are 7 tips to help keep those overhead costs down.
Membership organizations. If you are in a business that requires membership in a trade organization, that membership has added benefits beyond information and networking. Trade and other business-related membership organizations often offer a range of discounts on useful products and services. For example, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), offers members an extensive portfolio of discounts on vital business products and services such as health insurance, payroll processing, web design, online marketing, office supplies, printing, and shipping via FedEx (Note: I’m an affiliate).
If you are interested in joining the NFIB, then now’s the time. For the next two weeks they are offering a 50% discount on a regular, year long membership. That’s a savings of $180. Control your business expenses with a membership to NFIB, and you will save on services and tools that you use every day.
Tap into the power of group purchasing. A group purchasing organization (GPO) leverages the collective purchasing power of a group of businesses to obtain discounts from vendors and suppliers. In other words, you’ll be able to take advantage of discounts that you as a small business owner can’t access on your own. With GPOs, you have a couple of options. You could start your own, or you could look for an established GPO to join. To locate an appropriate GPO you could try an online search for your location, industry, or the kinds of discounts you are looking for. In addition, you can contact your local Small Business Development Center or Chamber of Commerce.
Conduct a DIY discount and promotions search. If you would like a more hands on approach, you could conduct individual online searches for specific vendors, promotions, products, or services. You could also head to online product comparison and recommendation sites such as, Billshrink. Finally, if you have a specific vendor in mind, you can keep your eyes open for vendor discounts. Many businesses have special promotions that are announced via email, social network platforms, and/or their own websites. I usually set up a mini “listening station” with Google Alerts. I include the vendor’s name and/or the product and discount I’m looking for in the alert and can then act if the vendor offers an interesting promotion.
Ask for a discount from current vendors. You may be surprised how many doors will open if you just ask that they be opened. If your current vendor relationships don’t involve discounts, then take a look at them to see where you may be able to negotiate better terms. You could, for example, offer to pay upfront or make a minimum purchase amount. If you can truly honor these arrangements, then many vendors may jump at the chance to secure your business (especially these days) and offer you a nice discount in return. All you have to do is ask.
Publicly ask for a discount on products and services. Another tactic is to publicly ask for discounts via your social networks, such as FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, and maybe even you blog. Not only will the people in your networks be able to point you in the right direction, but you may actually get a response from some of the companies themselves. It’s standard practice these days for companies to have online reputation management systems that constantly monitor the Internet for company mentions. They may see your question and the response and jump in with their own offer.
Consolidate services. Many times small business owners end up paying too much for services that can really be bundled together. One often cited example is bundling your phone with a range of Internet services such as internet connectivity, web hosting, and data storage. Another common example is bundling insurance policies. It’s very easy to just get used to doing business with a particular company; resistance to change is a pretty natural phenomenon. But, if you can overcome it, you may be surprised just how much cost savings there is. According to this source, bundling will save you about 7 to 15 percent of the cost of purchasing the items or services separately.
Sites that list small business discounts. So I stumbled on this great site called The Frugal Entrepreneur; I don’t know if you’ve heard of it…
Seriously, we’re starting a small business discount page that will list some notable discounts and service promotions that may be helpful for small business owners. It’s meant to make the search process a little easier for those who are taking the DIY approach. It’s a bit of a work in progress at the moment, but there are currently about 20 vendors listed offering an assortment of discounts and other promotions.
In particular, take a look at the company reviews in the “Featured Services” section. These are companies I use extensively and highly recommend. Most of them are offering free services that alone would be enough for many businesses.