29 ways to save on home-office expenses
If you're thinking about
starting a home-based business, or already run a business out of your home, you
know that office expenses -- furniture, equipment and supplies -- can eat up a
lot of cash. Gary Foreman, founder, editor and publisher of "The
Dollar Stretcher," and Shel
Horowitz, owner of and author of "Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed
in a Noisy World," offer tips on how to make the most of your budget.
flow kills more businesses than lack of profitability," says Foreman. Saving
money is as critical as your marketing plan and your product pricing. It's an
essential part of your business.
No. 1: Don't spend money on appearances. "If it's
a home business, you're not likely to have people come into your office,"
says Foreman. "But even if you have a small business with visitors, people
will recognize that you're wise to not spend money foolishly."
No. 2: "New ventures ought not to spend lavishly on furniture,"
says Horowitz. "Get by with the bare necessities. You need a desk and a place
to put your computer."
No. 3: That said, "Don't stint on the chair,"
says Horowitz. "You'll spend more on a chiropractor than you would have on
a decent chair." Moreover, you don't need to pay $500 for a good chair. Good
quality desk chairs can cost less than $100.
No. 4: Shop around. "Some business owners make
a checklist of the things they need, then go to the office supply store and fill
the order like it was a grocery list," says Foreman. That's not the best
way to get the most for your money.
No. 5: Think about whether you need to own the equipment. "Can
you share or rent it when needed?" Horowitz says. He creates mini-co-ops
with others, and the group shares use of the equipment.
No. 6: Be creative. "You can find resources without
spending a lot of cash," says Foreman. Use items already on hand to serve
your needs. A coffee mug can double as pencil holder.
No. 7: Put the word out. "Someone may be getting
rid of a piece of equipment," says Foreman. If people know what you're looking
for, they can direct you to low-cost (even free) resources.
No. 8: Be patient. "You may not need a fax machine
right away," says Foreman. "You can wait until you find one at the right
Tip No. 9: Get value for your
money. You can buy cheap file cabinets
from a mass-market discounter, but they won't last very long. "We
bought a four-drawer file cabinet for about $200, 10 years ago,
from Quill; a quality office discounter. It's in new condition,"
he says. "We bought a good quality lateral file at a tag sale
for $5 or $10. But the cheap plastic ones we have are wearing out
and need to be replaced."
No. 10: Everything is subject to negotiation. "I
don't just ask for a lower price," says Horowitz. "I ask them what else
they can do to sweeten the deal. They can add something that has high perceived
value but doesn't cost them much. For example, when I bought a computer, they
threw in the modem and printer. They could offer free delivery."
No. 11: You need to talk to a real person to negotiate, says Horowitz.
Ordering online doesn't allow you room to negotiate.
Tip No. 12: Bring someone
else's price to a retailer that you want to patronize. Ask
if they can offer you the same deal, says Horowitz.