I wouldn’t say I’ve spent recklessly with money in business, but there have been times when I’ve looked back wondering what I was thinking.
Perhaps the one that’s been the most glaring is business cards.
Of the thousand or so I’ve produced over the years I’ve only handed out a handful.
For a business like GBW, at least at this point, they just really aren’t necessary. You can do business without them. And GBW is pretty much paperless anyway so a printed business card doesn’t fit in.
Maybe someday we’ll need to print cards. I’ve obviously seen value there by printing all those cards, but we’ll have to see if that happens.
Here are some other things that business owners all too often spend money on.
This is a big one because the expense of renting or paying a mortgage for an office can be so large.
Owning a house is usually one of, if not the, biggest expense for people in their personal lives. And for businesses, paying for an office can become the same.
And the issue is that today the office seems to be something that isn’t as necessary.
Technology, simple technology, exists today that allows you and employees to work remotely. Email, cloud storage, video chat and many other technology can be a pretty small expense for many businesses.
There are certainly many exceptions, but the point here is to look at your business and determine if you really need an office or if it’s more of a nice-to-have expense. And maybe you don’t need to have the size of office that you’ve been considering.
2. Devices & Equipment
The newest devices are great and they can be nice-to-have items, but they often aren’t necessary. That’s a big difference.
You and your employees would probably love to have the latest iPhone, but could you do just as good of a job with the version that came out two years ago (for much less cost)?
The same goes with computers, printers or whatever technology you might need.
There is obviously a balance with getting the job done fast and effectively, but for a lot of technology there is a point where it’s not expensive and more than gets the job done.
Software is a great thing. It can make your efforts more efficient and more effective in multiple areas of your business. But it’s also possible to get into trouble by buying too much software or spending too much on software.
Again, it’s not about the features and bells and whistles with software. I’ve noticed that there is a point with software where you only end up using the basic few features and the rest is just there unused, but being paid for.
I like to look at the software I subscribe to each year and determine if I should keep using it. It’s a good time to look to see if there are other options out there that can do all you want and not cost as much because it doesn’t have all the features that you don’t use or even need.
It’s usually a good thing if you need to hire employees, but it’s also a scary step because one wrong hire could set your small business back quite a ways.
The reason is that it can be difficult to fire employees and if you make the wrong hire you’re going to be stuck with someone that can’t do the job, can’t learn and that you’re probably going to keep on the team too long.
Right now it’s football season in the NFL so let’s compare this to the NFL.
The best teams each season are usually ones that have had good recent drafts. They’ve chosen good young players. That’s not easy to do.
You have to draft good team members; ones that fit with your ideal employee criteria. And sometimes it takes longer than you expect to find those good people, but it’s worth the wait.
And with firing it’s important to find the point of no return where you’ve done training and you can see that the person is probably not going to be able to ever do what you need them to do. At this point it’s best to cut ties and move on. It’s best for both parties.
In the NFL you see this all the time. A team holds on to a player hoping that they will “get it”, but that day rarely comes and the team often suffers because of it.
5. SEO Shortcuts
It’s so important to rank well for keywords in your industry. If you rank well you can get tons of traffic, leads and sales. Because it’s so important, companies often look for ways to get those rankings and this can lead to shortcut taking.
And if you take shortcuts with SEO it always leads to issues.
Be wary of anything related to link building. Be wary of any promises for quick rankings improvements (less than 6-12 months).
It takes time to build authority for your website. It takes time to build a reputation with ongoing content. If you make that investment you can get results, but if you expect it to happen quickly you’ll get in trouble.
The take home point here is to analyze your expenses and look for the waste. You’ll never be perfect with the things you’re spending money on and I do think it’s important to experiment. But you don’t want to put a lot of money and energy into those experiments.
I also like to focus on growth. And growth often takes money. But it’s still good to look at expenses and priorities and make sure you’re not wasting because that can lead to the demise of your company.