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Maureen Stephenson: No time like the present to tighten things up

Know The Score

Posted: January 30, 2009 8:01 p.m.
Updated: January 31, 2009 4:55 a.m.

I bet that got your attention.

It's something that every business owner knows, but it seems to get lost in the shuffle of our day-to-day doing business. These days, when everyone is in a pinch, we all can use a reminder about little things that might have gotten lost in the high times.

I'm not going to give you a lot of rhetoric on the subject. Instead I'm going to simply give you a list of 10 points on each that will jog your business memory.

Let's start with some savvy ways to reduce the cost of you doing business:

  • Barter: You should be bartering goods or services with other businesses. Try to trade for something before you buy it.
  • Network: Could you trade leads or mailing lists with another business similar to yours? This will cut down on your marketing/advertising costs. If you don't have a leads list, try bartering your goods/services for their leads.
  • Wholesale/bulk buying: You can save money buying your business supplies in bulk quantities. Get a membership at a wholesale warehouse (such as Costco, Sam's Club, etc.) or buy through a mail order wholesaler. I buy most of my office supplies/paper through mail order vendors which saves me money, and also delivers them to my door. No lugging from store to car to office, and saving money too! What a deal.
  • Free stuff: Try visiting the thousands of "freebie" sites on the Internet before buying business supplies. You can find free software, graphics, legal forms, online business services, etc.
  • Borrow/rent: Have you purchased a piece of business equipment and only needed it for a short period of time? You could have borrowed the equipment from someone else or rented it from a rental store.
  •  Online/offline auctions: You can find office furniture, equipment, and even cars and trucks at online and offline auctions. Pay special attention to those held by law enforcement agencies or IRS that auctions off items seized from offenders. I'm not saying all the time, but before you pay retail for some big ticket items try bidding on them.
  •  Plan ahead: Make a list of supplies or equipment that you'll need in the future. Watch for stores that have big sales, and purchase your items when they go on sale before you need them.
  •  Used but not abused: If your equipment and supplies don't need to be new, buy them used. Cars, desks, file cabinets, etc., can be found at yard and garage sales, used stores, on message boards, and free publications. Some excellent items are sometimes offered when a business decides to relocate or is closing.
  • Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate! This has become a lost art. You should always try to negotiate a lower price for any business equipment or supplies. It doesn't hurt to try. Pretend you're talking to a used car salesman.
  • Search: You can always be searching for new suppliers for your needs. Look for suppliers with lower prices and better quality. When you find one, try pointing the difference out to your current supplier. You may get a better deal from him and not have to change. Don't be satisfied with just a few. You never know when your favorite supplier may decide to go out of business.

If you're a native Californian, you might find these things I've discussed a little hard to swallow. Let me tell you, being a native New Yorker, these are things that you learn from doing business there, and at an early age.

Just remember, every millionaire didn't acquire their wealth through inheritance; some were shrewd business dealers.

Maureen Stephenson is a local author and owner of Santa Clarita-based REMS Publishing & Publicity. Her column represents her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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