I’ve compiled a few common small business money-saving myths and suggested why you should do the exact opposite.
Myth 1: “I need to increase my revenue before I save.” Saving money every month should be non-negotiable, no matter what your circumstances. If you’re waiting for your turnover to increase to start saving, that day will probably never come. There will always be another excuse - even when you are earning more.
Myth 2: “I need to save towards something.” Yes, there might be a big-ticket item that you are savings towards, like a delivery vehicle or new shop fittings, but you shouldn’t need a reason to save money. In fact, it’s just as important to save for the unknown and the unexpected.
Myth 3: “Banks are my only savings options.” Putting your money into a savings account is convenient because you can see it and you can access it whenever you need it. But being able to quickly and easily access your money increases the temptation to make impulse financial decisions (do you really need that new coffee machine just because it’s on sale?).
Another disadvantage of saving money in the bank is that you don’t earn much interest. Putting your money in investment accounts or buying shares, however, produces greater returns, especially for long-term savings. Also, because you can’t see your money, you’ll be less likely to spend it unnecessarily: out of sight, out of mind.
Myth 4: “I can start saving later.” It’s true that saving can feel almost like a grudge purchase. It might not be rewarding to save money for an emergency one day. But when that day comes (and it will), you’ll be glad you did. You’ll save yourself the stress of accumulating debt or scrambling to secure finance, which can be especially difficult for small businesses.
Myth 5: “Putting cash away is the only way to save money.” Cutting operational costs in your business is a quick way to free up money that you can invest. Here are a few ideas:
* Share office space with another small business or adopt a virtual business model, which doesn’t need a physical office, saving you on rent and operational costs.
* Go green - cut down on paper use, switch to energy-saving light bulbs and appliances, be smart with water, buy refurbished furniture. It all adds up.
* Run your business in the cloud. You can access just about all your business management software in the cloud, which means you don’t need to invest in expensive hardware and the skills to maintain it. Cloud-based accounting solutions also help you manage your inventory, so money isn’t tied up in surplus stock.
* Pay invoices on time to avoid interest and late payment fees. Take advantage of early payment discounts.
* Cut down on meetings so your team can focus on strategic functions. Hold important meetings over Skype or Zoom to save time and money on travelling.
* Outsource ad hoc work, such as design and copywriting, to freelancers rather than hiring a full-time resource. Hire interns to do admin work so that you can spend more time on strategic planning.
Money - making it, saving it and souring it - is arguably the most challenging part of running a small business. Start making your money work for you - not just today but in five, 10 and 20 years from now.
Pieter Bensch is the executive vice-president: Africa and the Middle East at Sage.
The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Media.