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Getting Down to Business
Business Growth Strategies and Ideas from a Professional Organizer

Many of the business people I’ve talked to recently are optimistic about 2012. While the last few years have been quite challenging, to say the least, many of my clients are expecting 2012 to be their best year ever!

What are your biggest challenges?

Here is what business owners and managers are telling me:

“Our last bill from Staples was for almost $500.00. I had no idea we were spending so much money on office supplies.”

“Staffing. I’m not sure how to bring on more staff and manage that added expense.”

“Expenses are going up but customers want even more aggressive pricing. It’s stressful.”

“We’re trying to figure out how to increase sales without breaking the bank. It feels a bit risky because of the expense.”

Managing expenses seems to be a common theme. So with that in mind, I thought I’d share some ideas to help you manage your business expenses.

Organize & Manage Supplies

Have a well organized supply area with an inventory control system to avoid purchasing supplies that you do not need. Designate one person to be in charge of it.

Submit Reimbursable Expenses by Deadlines

When I was meeting with a client, he told me that he needed to submit his travel expenses or he would miss the deadline to be reimbursed for them. It clearly was the top priority for us to focus on that day. I helped him organize the piles of receipts, by category, for each trip. He was amazed when he realized that they totaled over $15,000. If we hadn’t done this in time, he would have missed the deadline to be reimbursed and been out $15K!

Do You Have a Home Office?

Many of the people I work with have a home office and/or work one or two days a week from home. It is critically important that it is properly organized and you have all the systems in place to optimize your effectiveness – including minimizing distractions!

Here’s a note one of my client’s recently sent me after a Three Hour Transformation of their home office:

“Your advice on organizing my home office has helped me dramatically! You provided excellent product recommendations and offered logical solutions that work great! Within a week of meeting with you, my office was better organized and work flowed much better!”

The Right Stuff

Business owners waste a lot of money buying organizing systems and furniture that do not suit their needs. I help people select organizing systems and tools that will save them hundreds, if not thousands of dollars!

Eliminate Unnecessary Storage

Unless you are required to use physical storage by law, all of your old records should be scanned and stored digitally. This eliminates the high cost of storage space, externally or internally, resulting in decreased operating costs. You will also save the expense of purchasing additional file cabinets, and will need less square footage for your office space. I helped a bank manager create a schedule for having documents picked up by the facility that they store them at.

Consider Temporary Help

An alternative to hiring someone full-time is using temporary help. Temporary help agencies can be a great resource to find talented, part-time help while holding down costs (i.e. long-term commitments). You can hire people on a daily basis, weekly basis, or monthly basis. This will keep your employee benefit costs down.

Dues and Publications

One of the things I’ve been recommending to clients for years is to carefully review each organization where you pay dues. Do you REALLY participate? Is there really VALUE to being a member of that organization? Maybe you belong because you “always have.” Also, review the magazines and publications you subscribe to. If a publication does not really help you in your business, or you find you haven’t even read any of the last few issues, consider canceling your subscription.

Taxes

To avoid having to pay extra taxes, you need a well organized filing system with easily accessible folders for each category of deductions, and documents pertaining to tax related issues. Discuss with your accountant what documents they needed for your particular business.

Donate For a Tax Break

Donate equipment or furniture that you no longer need to a charity. You can get a tax break and eliminate the costs associated with dispensing it or storing it, while helping a worthwhile cause.