Fifteen Tips to Help Small Business Owners Save Money

1. Evaluate your Internet access service. Independent and smaller ISP companies often provide high quality service and support for a fraction of the cost of larger companies. You may be able to save over $100 annually.

2. Use a Payment Service instead of a Merchant Account. Payment Services such as PayPal, eGold or Clickbank are cheaper, faster and easier to manage and boast a variety of features such as low monthly fees, discount percentages and programs that add up to big savings.

3. Re-evaluate Your Long Distance Costs and Service. Use the competitive communications market to your advantage in order to drastically reduce your charges instantly and find the perfect rate for your small business’ needs.

4. Find out if you qualify for a home office tax deduction. If you use a room in your home, regularly and exclusively as an office, you may deduct certain other expenditures, such as depreciation and the indirect expenses of operating your home, on a pro-rata basis.

Your car:

5. Convert personal assets into business assets by contributing them toward your business. Remember, you can only deduct the portion of your car that pertains to business only For example, if you use your car in your business, you can deduct the costs of operating and maintaining your car. To do so, pro-rate or allocate the total cost of operating and maintaining your car between deductible business use and nondeductible personal use.

6. Sign up for MasterCard’s Business Savings program and take advantage of travel and entertainment discount and savings programs.  You can receive substantial through over 40 savings partnerships and networks. This includes automotive, services, transportation, hotel, IT usage, dining, and other travel-related expenses.

7. Use your personal retirement plan is to create significant dollars towards your retirement. There are several tax advantages to doing so and you may also qualify to participate in several retirement plans available to small-business owners.

8. Take advantage of the generous first-year of business depreciation write-off for assets bought and put to use during 2007.  Your business may be entitled to immediately deduct up to $125,000 of new and used personal-property assets such as office equipment, machinery, furniture, fixtures and software) under the “Section 179 deduction.”

9. Invest in a website as a foundation and marketing springboard for your business. It’ll work even when you’re sleeping and is a great marketing tool to help you promote and advertise your services. Sites such as youtube.com, Linkedln.com, ladieswholaunch.com and Ryze.com are great for online promotion, resources, business advice and networking.

10. Research and invest in low cost marketing opportunities. Don’t underestimate the power of Blogging. You can advertise your business, review your products and services, get and receive free tips and advice and show of your business expertise. Tools such as WordPress grants access to use creative plug-in, and you can advertise your products or services.

11. Save on Healthcare expenses by finding a plan that’s right for your business and employees. Fee-for-service (FFS) plans and Managed Care plans are most common among small businesses. Health Savings Account (HSA) are also gaining in popularity because it allows employees to share financial responsibility for the plan and gives them the freedom to select a plan that best suits their healthcare needs. There are also several alternatives such as Health Purchasing Alliance (HPA), Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA), and Associated Health Plans (AHP).

12. Use freelancers, consultants and contractors who can work from home and help you save in a number of long-term and short-term ways. Outsource some job responsibilities as appropriate and possible or take advantage of the wide-range of services offered by virtual executive assistants.

13. Join trade associations, the Greater Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Associations and other minority –owned business resources.   They’re source for networking, marketing and advertising, and useful information. Many also provide members access to myriad businesses and individuals that can utilize your products and services.  Many offer discounts to minority business owners, provide assistance with much needed services such as healthcare plans, discount programs and tax advice.

Questions and Answers

Q. Every year I look for different ways to cut down my expenses. Is there one large item I should try to cut back on or eliminate?

A. Actually, there probably isn’t. It’s most advantageous to re-evaluate and streamline your overall expenses in order to stay within budget, and then trim the excess from each. Take a hard look to determine which ones you really need. Eliminating a huge item that you may need later on may set you back and end up costing more than you gained.

Q. Internet is essential for my business, but the yearly cost is pretty expensive. Are there ways I can save money without sacrificing service quality?

A. The market is filled with ISPs that you can use the stiff competition to your benefit.

Search the Internet under keywords like “cheap internet access” or “discount isp” for a list of possibilities. Then, try to renegotiate with your existing ISP. Many will offer service of 2-3 months free or a discount with an annual agreement.

Q. I’ve been hearing about merchant services, what are some of the benefits?

A. Merchant services offer lower transaction fees and programs that help your small business to accept credit cards.  If you have a low volume of credit card transactions, it might benefit you to switch from a merchant account to a payment service like Pay Pal or ClickBank. Through PayPal for example, you can send and receive payments quickly and easily, use their efficient accounting system to keep track of transactions, and the PayPal Plus MasterCard has no annual fee and lets you earn reward points for business or personal travel and entertainment.  They’re a indispensable during the tax season. But be sure to comparison-shop before you sign up.

Q. Can I use my home office for tax deduction?

A. Yes, you may deduct certain other expenditures, such as depreciation and the indirect expenses of operating your home, on a pro-rata basis. Even if you fail to qualify for the home office deduction, you are still allowed to deduct other business expenses that you incur while operating your business out of your home.  Your home office space must be exclusively allocated and regularly used for business.

Q. I travel quite frequently for business. Are there travel programs I can use to minimize expenses and conduct business efficiently while away?

A. Sign up for World MasterCard or MasterCard Executive Business Card for premium travel benefits and rewards programs and access to reliable services and merchants nationally or internationally. You can also choose a single travel agency, and insists that employees use it exclusively to book all business trips. Try one of the new online business-travel booking services such as Expedia, Orbitz or Travelocity. A single agency will assist you in ensuring policy compliance, track unused tickets, collect data for negotiations with suppliers and easily locate travelers in an emergency.

Q. Healthcare plans are becoming increasing expensive, but I’d like to provide benefits for my employees without sacrificing my bottom line. What are some economically feasible options available to me?

A. Consider health savings accounts, an increasingly popular option for small business owners. These are tax-exempt accounts used to pay for certain medical expense and could reduce your small business health insurance costs while giving your employees tax breaks.

The larger your group, the lower your premiums will be.  But remember to shop around for the provider that best suits your needs.

Q. A lot of people have been talking about the benefits of “going green?” Can I do this and save money?

A. The “going green” business trend is great for the environment and will certainly help your company save money.  Here are a few eco-friendly tips that will help put your business in the “green.” Be sure to turn off lights and unplug appliances and equipment when not in use; recycle waste materials, reduce energy consumption, purchase biodegradable office supplies and materials; create and support a wellness program for employees.  Going green is not only a money and energy saver, it’s always an effective way to boost morale and team spirit.

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