I’m all about dreaming big and working to reframe our limiting mindsets that might not be serving our goals and shiniest plans for the future. There’s a lot of fear around money and income, especially for women, and I’ve totally been there. I used to hang onto my money with tight fists, scared it was all going to suddenly *poof*, and disappear without so much as a warning.
While it’s beneficial to let go of those fears and lean into the power and prowess of money, it’s also clever to be aware of your cash flow and cut back on expenses when and where you need it. That way, you can spend and save your money in the smartest ways possible so you can be even more effective in your business.
The best way to do this? Perform a simple cash flow audit a few times a year. This is simply looking at where and how you’re spending your money, and finding potential holes for where you could tighten things up or pivot in order to manage your cash more wisely. If your business has a lot of ongoing expenses, running through your numbers every quarter might be smart. If you’re newer to business ownership or don’t have to invest a whole lot into yours to make it run, twice a year should be plenty.
It’s best to do it periodically during the year, though, because it’s easy for expenses to unwittingly ramp up during push seasons and times of growth. We might not even realize all the places we could potentially clean up costs to use that money somewhere else that moves the needle more! So as you review your expenses throughout the year, consider these 5 areas where you might be able to cut back on business expenses and save more for the long haul.
01. Pay down as much credit card debt as possible.
Yep, we’re starting by talking about debt — stick with me here! Sometimes I see people putting their business expenses and outstanding biz debts into two different buckets as though they’re not both costs to your business. But really, if you have mounting debt, it’s going to cost you down the line even more than some of your other expenses because of interest and fees.
If you can pay off your credit cards, like as soon as possible, you’ll save so much more money in the long run. Money that could be used to invest in things that matter — your team, your supplies, your systems — not just interest. We’ve been super intentional about staying debt-free throughout growing my business, and it’s for this very reason. Making more and more money doesn’t really mean a whole lot if your debt is growing along with it.
02. Review your software subscription costs.
There are a million and one business applications and software services out there that small businesses can use — but are you using the right ones for you? Do you need to be paying a monthly fee for an Instagram planning or editing app, or could you get by with a free version and use those saved dollars on something more effective?
Are you using the best email marketing provider for your business needs, or is there one that’s more cost smart that has just as useful of features? Even looking at personal ones like our Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, and other entertainment subscriptions is smart because those things add up. You may think it’s five or 10 bucks here or there every month, but it amounts to something that you could be saving in small pockets month after month.
03. Create a budget and stick to it.
I know, I know, we’re talking about how to cut costs, so why am I bringing the B-word into the mix?! Honestly, a budget is so much more than a fun killer… In fact, it’s NOT even a fun killer, if you use it right! A budget doesn’t need to be a bad thing.
Start by looking at all the places you’re spending money for your business and categorize them: marketing, supplies, advertising, support, travel, etc. Seeing the big picture of your expenses and how much you spend on average in each area will help you find where you might be spending a bit too much month after month. There might be spots you can spiff up your expenses in creative ways that you’d never realize if you didn’t look at things holistically in a budget.
04. Consider buying used equipment.
If you rely on expensive equipment to run your business, it doesn’t always have to be the newest, flashiest, most costly pieces. You can totally get away with buying an older model of an iPhone, or computer, or camera and still get the same high-quality, like-new results, right?
I have a friend whose husband is a hobby beer homebrewer, and he bought all of his equipment, from kegs to the kegerator to a full-size fridge and everything else he needs, used for about 60% off what it would cost to buy it all brand new. It’s all in great condition; it just took some time to source and collect it all!
A word of caution: be careful here with where you buy your used items. Buying used goods can be a little iffy from sources like Craigslist — although, remember you’re talking to the gal who bought the camera that launched my biz for $300 on Craigslist! It CAN work, but you won’t always have the same safeguards as buying from a big-brand store. If you’re worried, look into places that sell used goods but are trustworthy sources, like Amazon.
05. Take advantage of free options.
I think we get so caught up in what other people are using and how we can stay ahead that we forget some of the best tools are free.
- Using your voice to spread your message and story on social media.
- Finding free resources on Pinterest to learn how to market your business in unique ways.
- Showing up for your people consistently on your email list.
- Picking up your phone to connect with past clients and see if they’d refer you.
- Working from a home office or your kitchen table instead of a high-ticket co-working space.
There are SO many ways to spread the word about your business without having to pay for ads, contractors, fancy technology, or office space. Some of the best ways to move the needle are digging your feet in and doing the work the good old-fashioned way. Aka working with what you have!
Saving money doesn’t mean you have to completely reconfigure your business model and do everything yourself, pulling yourself along by the bootstraps. There are so many small, bite-sized, and clever ways to adjust your spending here and there to save more over time and spend your money more wisely in ways that make more sense for you and your business. Just start with one thing and commit to it, adding more along the way as you go!
Before you know it, you’ll be the savviest and most money-smart business owner you know. And that’s a badge to totally wear with honor.