Running a business always has costs. Many are unavoidable, but some can be lessened. And less money going out of your business means more profit left over for you.
Always remember to keep the invoices and receipts for all purchases made for your business. These are the expenses that you can use can claim against your tax. You will need the paperwork in case you are ever audited for your tax returns. Don’t forget to include materials, tools and other supplies, postage and packaging costs, listing fees, stall fees and similar costs, Paypal and other processing fees, and ‘office supplies’ such as storage, stationery and paper. Check online to see just what you can and can’t consider tax deductible (it varies depending on your country or state).
Here are some common business expenses and ways you can save money on them:
Usually these are fixed by the selling venue you use (eBay, Etsy, local shows etc) Keep an eye out for special offers for free listing days. Sometimes larger volume sellers can get reduced rates, so this may be something worth checking out.
Remember that internet selling sites usually charge a final sale fee based on the actual item price, and not on the postal charges. So adding the shipping fee to this price so as to offer “free shipping” may attract more customers, but may also put your fees up a little.
Postage and Packaging
Once your shop is getting regular sales you can really save costs by buying your postage supplies in bulk. Shop around for good prices for envelopes, wrapping paper, bubble wrap or peanuts. Don’t forget that the little things like sticky tape and labels also add up, so again buying in bulk can save the pennies. Some sellers team up with a crafty friend to buy in bulk and split the supplies between them. This is a great idea if you want the bulky saving, but don’t have the need or room for quite such large quantities.
Are you spending lots of time (and petrol) on trips to the post office? Check online to see if your post office has a pick-up service for parcels. There are many private companies who also offer competitive parcel delivery service. There are also online services to let you print pre-paid stamps and delivery labels. As well as sometimes offering cheaper postal rates, this can again save you valuable time – time which you can then use to make new things!
Again the biggest savings are to be made by buying in bulk, ideally from the product’s original manufacturer or a wholesale source. When your craft business is very small then it is convenient to buy your supplies in your local hobby shop. But once you start to grow you can save a lot of money by searching out better deals. As a registered business you may qualify for wholesale or “warehouse” prices from big companies. Being a good repeat customer can also earn you a better deal with many smaller companies too. Don’t be afraid to politely ask your favorite suppliers if they offer any such discounts or incentives.
Never forget the importance of quality in your supplies though. If you find a much cheaper version of something you use, make sure it is or a comparable quality too. Loyal customers who love to buy your silver plated necklaces may well complain if they start getting items that turn green, fall apart or look skanky. Quality of materials is an important selling point for your product so something you must always take into consideration when trying to save money in this area.
Promotion and Advertizing
Nowadays there are many free and low costs ways to promote your business, both online and off. However many forms of paid advertizing are still used and can be very profitable for your business. Try to target your advertizing as closely as possible to your target market. Facebook adverts, for example, allow you to tightly define who will see your advert. If you are considering a magazine advert make sure it is a magazine that really is likely to have potential customers in the readership.
If you are tempted to use the paid adverts on Etsy, do search the forums for advice first. These ads can be profitable, but you need to use them the right way – and most people don’t. There is a reason that experienced sellers refer to them as ‘newbie tax’.
Keep notes of when and where you try different advertizing campaigns so you can better see which ones actually work for you. If you don’t do this then you could be paying out for advertizing that is not bringing in any extra sales.
I will be writing a detailed article on free and very low costs advertizing and promotional ideas very soon.
Usually when you want something done there are two choices. Either do it yourself or pay someone else to do it. Are you paying for any tasks that you could learn to do yourself? Although it is a very good idea to get professional help the first time you need to tax returns, very small businesses can often do this themselves once they have been through the process once or twice. There is lots of online help, as well as many good books. Even if you can only do part of it yourself this could save you a lot in accountants fees. Keep all your receipts, use a website such as the great free WaveAccounting.com or a software package such as Sage or Quickbooks to records your business finances. If you keep the records carefully and diligently then you will have a lot less work to do when it comes to tax time.
Would it save you money and time to pay someone to do routine tasks for you such as a simple part of your creation process (cutting things out?), packaging items up or taking them to the post office?
Here are few other little ideas for saving on your business expenses.
Although it is great to always post customer’s purchases out as soon as possible, if you sell a lot then you may be able to save on petrol for the post office run by posting every other day instead of daily.
Don’t be shy about talking about your business to family and friends. Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to advertize, and you never know who your friends might mention your shop to. Get them involved by asking for ideas and feedback too. A good strong family/friend support network can be one of the most precious commodities your business can have.
Shop around for products like web server space, domain names and software requirements. Right now it is very much a buyer’s market. Will you web host offer you a discount if you buy multiple products from them?
Store your finished products and materials carefully. Damaged items are money down the drain. I will be doing an article on storage very soon.
Be wary of spending large sums of money on things like trade shows unless you are confident you can gain a suitable amount of benefit from doing them. Many new businesses get caught up in these things and end up spending vast amounts on them, with little or no return for their investment.
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I would love to hear your hints and tips for saving money on small business costs.