When I first worked at home, I ended up saving a great deal of money on things like child care and car expenses. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t incur new expenses, especially in the early years when technology was expensive. While it’s nearly impossible to grow a profitable home business without investing any money, you can do it on a budget. Here are tips to keeping your home business costs down.
- Do an energy audit on your home. Because you’re home, you’re using more energy. An energy audit will help you find areas you can reduce your energy costs such, as weather stripping windows and wearing layers in the winter. Put your home office in a room with a window to use natural light and if you need electric lights, use LED bulbs. Buy energy efficient surge protectors that use less electricity when your equipment isn’t in use.
- Eat fresh, whole, lean and cook from scratch. Granted, organic foods can be more expensive than non-organic food, but it is possible to eat well on a budget. Not only does it cost less to cook from scratch, but in most cases, it doesn’t take that much longer and you’ll be healthier, which means more energy to build your business. Further, because you work from home, you can feast on healthy, tasty leftovers instead of a stale sandwich or expensive burger for lunch.
- Buy what you need, not what you want. I love the office store. I could spend a fortune every time I go.
However, I don’t always need the things I buy. Don’t get distracted by cool, shiny stuff. Instead, let necessity dictate the items you buy for your business.
- Get it free or at a discount. If you need something, first “shop” your home to see if you have an item that can serve the purpose. If you do have to invest money, research free and low cost options that won’t compromise professionalism. For example, if you need a new desk, check out Freecycle in your area. Do you really need to buy Word or Photoshop or will Open Office and GIMP, both of which are free, suffice? There are tons of tools, equipment and services you can get for free, including graphics, software, communications (i.e. VoIP) and more.
- Save on ongoing expenses. Review regular expenses and look for ways to cut costs. For example, you can save on printing and paper by proofreading before printing or using email instead of fax. Many services, such as domain name registration and web hosting charge less if you buy over a longer period of time.
- Market your home business for free or low cost. Gone are the days in which you have to pay for ads to promote your business. The Internet has made it faster, easier and cheaper to reach your market. Now you can engage your market with social media and reach it through guest blogging and making podcast appearances. Further, offline marketing is affordable with business cards, networking and referrals. Because many of these tasks can become time sucks (i.e. social media), develop a plan so you’re doing the tasks in a way that is efficient and effective.
- Outsource responsibly. Hiring help cost money, but it can be money well spent if you’re able to use the time saved to earn more. Outsourcing is ideal for busy tasks and duties you don’t know how to do well. For example, it’s better to pay a webmaster $30 for an hour of work to keep your site running, than for you to spend 3 hours on it. If you’re time is worth $50 per hour, you lost $150 by doing your own web work, when you could have netted $120 by hiring someone to take care of it for you and then spent your time on tasks that make money.