Balancing the books when you run a small business is never easy, but the rising cost of living has meant many small businesses have thought of clever ways to save money and reduce their business costs. “It’s definitely on everyone’s minds as times are tough right now,” says Natasha Brown, owner of Ascendance Academy, a Sydney-based studio teaching dance, circus and acrobatics to children and adults. “I’ve looked at a whole lot of different ways that I can cut costs a little bit.” Take a leaf out of these SMEs’ books with their tips on how to save money in your small business. 

Buy in Bulk

A woman receiving a delivery of a large cardboard box in a small warehouse setting. She is signing for the delivery using a tablet and a stylus pen.  

Buying larger quantities of product, office stationery and workplace supplies often means a bigger initial spend, but it reduces costs per item – and your overall outlay. Natasha says this approach has been successful at her studio, which has a large store selling uniforms, footwear and other dance gear.

“I find that ordering in bulk allows for bulk discounting,” she says. “Especially during these tough times, I try to order so that I can receive a discount. We try to grab as many deals as we can.”

This approach to ordering also helps to save money for veterinarian Dr Moss Siddle, who runs Dandenong Ranges Veterinary Centre in Melbourne. “We look for discounts by bulk buying, particularly our quick turnaround items and consumables like syringes and needles,” he says.

His practice also asks customers to pay upfront for large or special orders for things like pet food, shampoos and medication. “Before, if the client was delayed coming in or they found a different source, we’d be stuck with the product,” says Moss. 

What to Try 

An assortment of bulk office supplies to help businesses with saving money. Products include things like pens and pencils, document wallets and archive boxes.

SEE ALSO: How to Set (and Achieve) Your 2024 Business Goals

Time Your Orders Right

A woman using a laptop computer in a small office environment. She’s holding and looking at a credit card with one hand and typing with the other.

Make the most of the savings gleaned from buying in bulk by timing your orders with the start of the billing cycle. Whether it’s a business account with your suppliers or a credit card, buying as a new billing cycle ticks over gives you more time to settle your bill. 

“If it’s a 30-day account or something like that, doing the bulk of your ordering at the start of the account cycle gives you the full rest of the month and 30 days after that before you need to pay. It’s a bit of extra leeway with cash flow,” says Moss. 

“With credit cards, wait until the credit card statement cycle has finished and do your larger orders at the beginning of the next cycle, so you’ve got the time until the next statement is issued plus 55 days, or whatever it may be, before you have to pay.”

Hot Tip: You can get your team members the equipment they need while keeping on top of costs with Flexiworks, part of Officeworks. The online platform allows businesses to provide employees with credit to shop a tailored Officeworks range. 

Go Digital

To help reduce her admin costs, Natasha has transitioned many of her paper-based systems to digital. “We now use an electronic check-in system on a [tablet] rather than having someone check everyone in with paper and a pen,” she says. “We [have also] automated reminder messages and follow-ups. I also use Canva to create notices and mini-websites to share information electronically. We do this for our big information package for parents for our end of year concert.” 

Hot Tip: Creating and printing your marketing materials is made easy and cost-effective with Officeworks x Canva, which brings together Canva’s variety of templates and Officeworks’ printing service.

SEE ALSO: Ask an Expert: How to Use Officeworks X Canva for Business

Review Your Lenders and Providers

A man sitting at a desk, talking on the phone while using a laptop computer. He’s using the laptop trackpad with one hand and holding a red pen with the other. 

If you have business loans, shopping around for a better interest rate and changing lenders could lead to significant savings. “I’m in the process of shifting over a couple of my business loans to another lender whose interest rate is about 1 per cent less than the other one,” says Moss.

He also says reviewing your contracts with utility, phone and any other providers can help with saving money and improving your bottom line. “If you can save 3 to 5 per cent off multiple things, it all adds up,” he says. 

Sometimes, however, it’s simply a matter of picking up the phone and speaking to your provider. “Our EFTPOS provider was going to increase rates, so we rang and spoke to them, and they decided to leave it where it was,” says Moss. “If you’ve been with [a provider] for a while, they’re probably more willing to maintain the deal with you to keep you as a customer.”

Partner With Other Small Businesses

Figuring out how to save money on your own can be hard going. Natasha says teaming up with another business can help you come up with clever ideas that may also save you on marketing costs.

“In the last year, we’ve partnered with an occupational therapist. I run workshops for their classes, and in return we get a lot of new clients and word of mouth,” she says. “We’ve saved on marketing and expanded our customer database. The referrals have been huge.”

SEE ALSO: How to Balance Your Side Hustle and Day Job

This information is general in nature and does not constitute financial or legal advice. You should consider your circumstances and seek professional financial and/or legal advice from a licensed professional.