Striking a balance on the balance sheet

There are two ways to make money; one by earning more money and the other by spending less. The latter is a time tested remedy that gets taken out of the closet whenever the economy sneezes and the business environment feels congested. It’s prudent to keep overheads low at any time, irrespective of the economic climate, as a few saved pennies are always welcome. When you are setting up a small business or running one, money is always tight. Being intelligent and prudent at this time with your resources may mean the difference between eventual success or failure.

Making the dirham go further will be considered value that you will be able to cash in on once the company becomes successful. Doing more from less is an essential part of any business plan for a small enterprise. Usage of technologies and the internet, even if your business is not an on-line business, is a surefire way of saving cost and to generate greater mileage. A mix of technical DIY and a simple search can provide the enlightened entrepreneur with a toolkit of services which are either free or provide great value at a low cost.

Here is a jargon buster tutorial:
Use Cloud Computing and reduce dependence on dedicated hardware and related infrastructure. Services like Google Apps allows you to host a small business e-mail, documents, calendar, etc. for free. This allows you to do most of the tasks the expensive systems that larger organisations utilise. This translates into an edge over others at no cost.

If your company has a few telephones — mobile or land lines — consider negotiating with the telecom provider (yes, even etisalat and du in the UAE) for a better package with special offers such free internal phone calls and cheaper long distance dialling and handsets. The saving such consolidation creates will surprise you by the time the year ends.

This also provides you a dashboard to actually view your usage and to efficiently plan for the future and to plug any holes. At least in the initial phase, try to outsource as many of the tasks as you can — accounting, administration, technical support, IT, cleaning or whatever that is not core to the business. These should not be a load on your time. Whatever anyone says, even if you don’t get involved, there is a certain management overhead that essentially creeps into it and distracts you from the main task.

Social media
Communicate with your customers regularly and use more efficient and economic methods to do so. Technological advances have made it possible to use social media e-newsletters and e-mail to your advantage at almost no cost.
An effective Twitter and Facebook presence clubbed with a simple and informative website will be a great asset to the business. And if you are a social person, it may be an invincible combination and trying it out is usually free.

Find a mentor and guide to take you through the travails that any start-up faces in the early phase. However much you may know about the business, the aid of a sound head at times of challenge cannot be belittled. The idea is to find someone who gives you sound advise because he wants to not because he is enticed to do so by incentives such as stock options or consulting fees. You may even be surprised by people who would give you valuable insight for nothing! Grey hairs count in making things easier, even if it’s because someone else has committed mistakes before you had a chance to do the same. They save you from making one!

Keep your eyes and ears open and network a lot. There is no alternative to making contacts, nurturing them and to build on them. Most business opportunities come your way through people you know. This circle of people is also a gold mine of helpful resources from lawyers to accountants, technology geeks to marketing mavens. Innovators will find a way to encash this valuable asset and create successful enterprises we all will talk about.

This article originally appeared on Gulf News.