by Michelle Madhok
Incubator member, NYC
For newly minted business owners, one of the biggest challenges is keeping costs down. It seems all forms of marketing, communication and office necessities cut into cash flow. My business is based on helping women shop online so I make it a rule to bargain hunt on the net for my office products and services. Below are a few tips on how to squeeze that last dime out of your high-speed connection.
1. Don’t pay someone else’s rent. I live in Manhattan where real estate is extremely pricey so when I need a printer I don’t want to pay for the copier’s Manhattan address. Search google.com for the service you need. Color copies at the neighborhood copy shop cost .89 cents each. A quick search finds www.colorcopysite.com in California that will produce the copies for .10 cents each and ship for next day delivery.
2. Cyberscale. Use online businesses where the sole focus is on what you need. For business collateral go virtual. Vistaprint.com is a bargain, offering 250 business cards for $19.99 and 250 postcards for $49.99. Need 200 photos for your press kit? Bonusprint.com charges just 29 cents for a 5×7 print of your digital photo. Compare that to $1 per photo at your local developer.
3. Fair trade. Many people looking to make a career change or get experience in your industry may be willing to trade their expertise for yours. Visit sites such as ryze.com and craigslist.com where you can post a message about the services you need. Personally I found people to help me with marketing, analysis, copy editing and photography all in exchange for my experience or advice.
4. Make it legal. Lawyers are expensive and sometimes you can’t avoid having to pay their fees, but sometimes you can get legal services at a value price. Legalzoom.com will help business owners incorporate at rock bottom prices. A white shoe law firm charges approximately $1,500 to process your corporate documents – legalzoom can do the most basic package for $99. If you do need legal advice sometimes a sole proprietor lawyer can be a better bargain. Remember – avoid overhead whenever possible. You want to pay for an attorney’s brain power, not the fancy carpet on their floor.
5. Get it secondhand. Let your competitors pay retail. On eBay you can get a gently used answering machine for $2, a “like new” Dell laptop for $400 and a closeout HP printer/copier combo for just $8. Visit amazon.com for previously owned books – you’ll enjoy slashed prices on the business books you need to succeed. A copy of Guerilla Publicity with “slight shelf wear” can be had for $6.82 – compare that to the list price of $12.95. You’re making money already.