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Andrew Schrage, Founder and Editor of Money Crashers, launched his start-up SparkCharge Media – a conglomeration of financial websites including MoneyCrashers, in 2008. He started his business on a shoestring budget at the height of the recession.

“With my business plan, I knew how much I had in savings that I was willing to allocate towards the business, and I derived my budget directly from that number. And I found ways to save on just about everything. I did virtually all of the legwork myself in the beginning. I did not have an accountant, I did not have an editor, and I did not employ any other professionals. While this made for extremely long work days, I saved a lot of money. I also bartered for a lot of services. For example, I did some housework for a friend of mine who helped me develop my website basically for free. Lastly, I bought just about all of my office supplies, furniture, and computer equipment “used” to save even more,” explains Andrew.

Implementing some very effective small business cost cutting ideas in 2011 has further helped Andrew save a significant amount of money, including one of his favourites – moving to free forms of marketing.

Let’s hear from Andrew himself on how he was able to save good money.

Marketing: We saved a lot by implementing an effective Facebook page for marketing for our site, which has brought us a new source of subscribers and readers on a daily basis. Rather than spending money on things like expensive banner advertising, social media has enabled us to cut costs while targeting a specific demographic.

Automation: Our payroll system was outdated and cumbersome, so we went with an online payment processor. The result was a significant savings in time (which ultimately saves us money) and a more convenient system for our employees to get paid, using Outright software.

Stressing Time Management:We stress efficiency into our team, but in 2011, we actually took it a step further and provided our team with a list of small business time management tips that they could implement on a daily basis including organizing their office space well, and not trying to multi-task too much.

Increased Oversight in Marketing Initiatives: Up until this year, we would “spitball’ a marketing initiative, put it into place, and let it run its course. What we found out was that we were identifying far too late in the game the ideas that simply weren’t working for us. We now have a goal-based program for all marketing initiatives, so they are now tracked and monitored on a timely basis to assess their return on investment.

Take Our Own Advice: Another neat luxury is that we have benefited greatly from the expertise of our employees. Since they naturally are financially responsible and have a passion for saving money, I have been able to learn from their tips and save money on by bundling online services, switching bank accounts for our business to minimize our banking fees and maximizing our interest rates, and using payroll debit cards. These ideas have all resulted in significant savings for the business, and I got all of these tips absolutely free!

Moving to Plastic: I have always been a little scared, to use plastic. When we realized that we were giving up free money, we finally made the move to utilize some of the best small business credit cards. Now we receive miles, cash back, and more perks for our business expenses. Moreover, we’re able to put limits on any employee cards to minimize risk there as well. As long as you’re able to pay off your bill every month, I strongly recommend paying for expenses with a credit card instead of cash.

If you are a Small Business Owner, who has made significant savings by adopting various cost cutting measures, feel free to share your experience with us.

Do you know a friend who can provide better tips on saving money? Mention them in the comment below. Ex: @Mary has great tips on low budget advertising.

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