Getting spending under control is key for any business, especially for new ones, when you don’t always have clients yet and your initial investment is relatively small. This is also relevant for larger businesses because not only can you reduce your spending but at the same time, you can increase your productivity and also make significant contribution toward a more decentralized, flexible and environment friendly world. Let’s take a look at the different avenues you can take.
Office & Commute Cost
In a traditional corporate environment, you would have to rent expensive offices usually in the business center of a large city which would already set you back at the very least several thousands of dollars before you even make your first dollar of revenue. Not only that but your employees and yourself will have to endure usually an hour long commute back and fourth every day which cost them money, create traffic jam and pollution, and reduce the time spent with their family. Fortunately, over the past few years, with the advance of technology, you can easily set up virtual offices and work from the comfort of your own home. You would get your team organized with project management software, messaging and group call application for daily meeting and if you really want to meet in person, you can book a meeting room in a shared office space once a week for an hour (which will cost you very little). So with this simple setup, you will save money and time. And you should not worry about your staff not being working properly because they are working remotely. First, I find that a lot of employees are just doing face time at the office with a very low productivity so there is already an issue right there. They should be assessed on project milestones and so as long as the project is on time and adheres to strict quality criteria, you should be able to spot any issue quickly and take action. So in the end, it does not change anything, but the employees should be organized and self starters otherwise they might not be able to work in this kind of setup. I find myself to be at the same time a lot more efficient working from home and more relaxed. And these 2 hours daily commute amount to a total of 516hours saved every year! Imagine all the things you could do to develop your business and the extra time to spend with your loved ones, not to mention all the pollution avoided, risk of car accident and stress/road rage when stuck in traffic. On a personal level, you can use the 2 hours daily commute saved to spend more time with your family, you can adopt a more flexible schedule if needs be. For instance, you need to take your daughter to the doctor for an hour in the morning, you can do it and catch up with work later on since you have saved 2 hours of commute. You don’t need to leave home very early to avoid traffic jams anymore, you can have more sleep and work better during the day. And you can go to the gym for 45min to get you pumped up before starting your work day.
An easy win for saving money and increasing productivity with software is to get rid of the Microsoft Operating System (Windows) and their Office suite, these software are insecure because Microsoft keep vulnerabilities opened for months, and usually is forced to close them because Google goes public about them or hackers use them to their advantages and steal your data and money. Furthermore, Windows and Office are full of bugs, and extremely slow. Do you like waiting for an hour every time you get a blue screen explaining that your computer is updating or your boot time taking several minutes to launch or having to buy an expensive anti-virus because you are using an inferior Operating System? The same thing is true for Office, the different version are usually not completely compatible between each other so if you are using Office 2003 and someone else is using Office 2010, you will have issues. In total, a licence for Windows 10 is around $100 and Office 2016 will set you back between $150 (Home and Student) up to $400 (Professional). That’s already a total of between $250 and $500 per staff! So let’s say you have 10 employees, you are saving between $2,500 and $5,000! So now, what do you replace Microsoft with? You can easily use free and open source software! Open source software are intrinsically more secure because everyone can look at the code and spot a vulnerability and fix it right away. Most of the time, they are also either free, relying on donations and volunteer programmers or cheap vs close source software. The philosophy is completely different, there is an entire community looking to constantly improve the software and help you use it. For the operating system, I can’t advocate enough using Linux, it’s completely free, open source, and very easy to use especially if you use distributions like Ubuntu or Mint which are meant for easy access and installation. You can find Dell computers for instance with Ubuntu pre-installed and pocket the $100 discount compared to the same computer with Windows 10 installed. For MS Office replacement, look no further than Libre Office which is used in a lot of public administrations and universities around the world and keeps improving with each iterations. Their compatibility with Office is increasing and if not perfect, much better than previously. I would also advice you to use WPS Kingsoft, It has a perfect compatibility with Office and looks very modern, the only negative is that it’s closed source. For pretty much every close source app, you can find an open source one. For instance, for the Adobe range of software, you can find open source and free replacement like GIMP, Inkscape, or Krita. For video editing, I find openshot very easy to use, there is also KDEnlive or the fantastic Blender. I have used Linux and open source software for the past 10 years in my professional and personal life and I never regretted it, I have more freedom, more choice, I’m more efficient and I have saved a lot of money. One last thing, these open source projects need your help, make sure that you contribute to the project either monetarily through donations or by finding and fixing bugs, that’s how you can give back to the project and the community.
Business trips can be very expensive and exhausting especially if there is a big jetlag involved. I personally don’t like these because you try to cram as many meetings as possible within a few days, you waste a lot of time with security at the airport, and it’s always difficult to assess whether you will be able to close a deal and make the trip worthwhile. The cost of a business flight between New York and Hong Kong for instance can cost upwards of $10k so I would certainly try to delay far away meetings as much as possible until you are close to certain to sign a deal (except if the client pays for transportation). For professional driving a lot to visit clients at plants for instance to provide assistance with machinery, I would certainly move to video conference using reliable wifi in order to avoid wasting dozen of hours every month driving to these plants killing your productivity and inducing important transportation cost (several thousands dollars). You can keep meeting your clients in person but less regularly. Finally for flights, stop using travel agencies (AMEX I’m looking at you!), they are usually much more expensive and offer less choices than if you manually book the flights yourself.
Tell me more about yourself!
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