Can You Cut Costs Without Cutting Corners?

The quick answer is ‘yes’, but that wouldn’t be much of a blog, would it…so allow me to elaborate…

I happen to know two guys called Ben, both of whom each run a printing business. Small world isn’t it! – well, that and printing businesses aren’t exactly rare, and Ben is a fairly common name- but you get my point.

Both operations are of the ‘we can vinyl-print your name/slogan/company logo onto t-shirts etc’ variety, so it’s basically a steady stream of local football team shirts needing numbers on the back, and having to print ‘Lads On Tour’ onto various coloured t-shirts for stag parties – who, for some reason, think it will increase their pulling prowess.

Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

But I digress.

Despite the fact that both the Bens run businesses that offer an identical service, I’ve noticed that the way they run those businesses varies quite a bit – particularly in the way they spend their money.

Neither one of them has millions in the bank, and any profit they make goes straight back into the business, so it’s interesting to see the different approach they both take when it comes to trying to keep costs down.

Another spoiler alert: Ben 2 is better at it than Ben 1.

Ben 1 has a couple of employees. Fair enough, you might think – but we all know that the true cost of hiring someone goes beyond just their salary. I’m talking about training costs, having to rent a bigger space and buy more equipment, insurances, higher utility bills….even having to order in more coffee and tea bags.

Ben 2 is a one-man operation, but outsources as much as possible; his marketing, his designs, his bookkeeping….this means he’s getting expert-level help, without having to pay for training – therefore saving himself money (and time). Then there’s the materials and equipment he needs. Ben 2 bought a second-hand heat press, and buys the rolls of vinyl he uses most regularly (white, black and red in case you’re wondering) in bulk – which works out cheaper – often negotiating with his vendors to get better deals.

Ben 1 only orders in the materials he needs when he needs them, which in his mind is saving him money. He’s a moron of course because it’s costing him more in the long run, plus he went out and bought a brand spanking new heat press without even considering the idea of pre-used.

Ben 1’s main reason for this is that he’s a big believer in the old adage of ‘spending money to make money’ – and no more so than when it comes to advertising. He pays out for expensive online ads, double-page ads in those crappy ‘Advertiser’ magazines that come through the door and that NO ONE reads, and at one time a local radio ad. While I can’t deny that advertising your business is going to help you get customers through the door, you’re certainly not cutting any corners by using free platforms like your social media accounts and word-of-mouth to get your business out there.

My point is, don’t be like Ben and assume that part of being a successful business is spending huge amounts of money at every turn – you should ALWAYS be thinking about your cash flow; and that includes what’s going OUT just as much as what’s coming IN.

Are you paying monthly subscriptions for things you don’t use or need (for example Canva and other software that you’ve used once and then forgotten you even have?)

Are you paying someone to do something you could do yourself, or could outsource?

Do you negotiate with vendors and shop around for the best deal?

Are you renting or buying brand new equipment when there are perfectly good secondhand options available to you?

Are you dropping a ton of money on advertising while your social media platforms sit there gathering cyber dust?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of this and are now feeling like a bit of a Ben 1, you can still make some changes and turn it all around. Cutting costs really doesn’t have to mean cutting corners.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *