According to Entrepreneur, women in the U.S. own 10.6 million businesses that account for $2.5 trillion in annual sales. And the number of women CEOs on the Fortune 500 increased by more than 50 percent in 2017, with this year’s ranking including more females than any list since the first was compiled in 1955.
CNBC.com notes that we have begun to hit “the Golden Age” of female entrepreneurship. In recent years, the rate of female founders has at least doubled that of their male counterparts. Successful companies started by women include Chanel, Zipcar, Learning Express and Stitch Fix, just to name a few.
It’s takes money to make money, as the saying goes, when starting and growing business. It also helps to find ways to save money – particularly on overhead. Here’s some ideas on how.
Getting Set to Save
Think going online costs an arm and a leg? You can start out by selling items for next to nothing on online auction sites like eBay and Yahoo! Auctions, says Entrepreneur. If you want to create a professional storefront, there are website solutions available, usually for a low monthly fee.
You don’t have to run your office full-time from an executive suite to benefit from its services. Executive suites meet a range of needs, including access to a private mailbox and a receptionist to answer or forward calls to your home office. Visit the Office Business Center Association International website for details.
While the costs of establishing a permanent retail location can be steep, carts, kiosks and temporary spaces can be a way to get your foot in the door with a lot less risk. The upfront investment for a kiosk or cart ranges from $2,000 to $10,000, according to Specialty Retail Report, making it easy for entrepreneurs to put a toe in the water and try retail sales temporarily.
Be Stingy with Supplies
Check Google for a local recycled printer cartridge supplier. Recycle your own print cartridges at places like Staples, and you’ll get discounts on new ones.
Instead of buying forms at an office supply store or creating them yourself, find tons of free forms online that you can download, customize and print. Free forms on Formnet can get you started.
Visit Download.com to try hundreds of software products for free through trial downloads, freeware and limited versions of the full product. If you don’t what you’re looking for, check out the manufacturer’s site. Most offer free trial downloads.
Save up to 60 percent by buying used computer equipment, copiers and office furniture from stores such as Cort Furniture or Aaron’s Rents and Sells. Auctions and newspaper classifieds are useful sources to discover gently used equipment.
Be Prepared… Just in Case
When looking for insurance, check with your trade association. Many associations offer competitive group insurance. Buying appropriate insurance upfront saves money in the long run, says Jeanne Salvatore of the Insurance Information Institute. Consider what situations would be catastrophic to your business and protect yourself with adequate insurance.
Arrange for an alternative place to run your business in case of a major disaster, advises the institute. Make plans with a firm in your industry to use their facilities in case of damage, and vice versa.
Workforce Flexibility = Savings
Rather than paying for employees who may sit idle when business is slow, consider hiring temporary employees to handle surges in business.
Get free or low-cost help – and give local college students a chance to learn the ropes – by hiring interns.
Employers generally don’t have to withhold or pay any taxes on payments to independent contractors. But be careful that your independent contractors fit the definition provided by the IRS, or you could face penalties.
Many trade and business associations have reasonable membership fees and offer discounts on everything from insurance, travel and car rental to long-distance phone service, prescriptions and even golf course fees.
Even mundane purchases merit shopping around. If you quote a competitor’s lower price, a supplier or vendor will often match that price to win your business.
Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche, the nationally recognized personal financial educator, notes that automation can save you time and money. “By taking out the flawed human element, aka you, you’re more likely to stick to your budget,” Aliche writes in the Huffington Post. “I’ve automated everything; payments, bills, saving, investing, even giving to charity. Automation is the new discipline.”
The Bottom Line
Merrill Lynch notes that women now own more than a third of privately held companies, and one in five firms with revenue of at least $1 million was started by a woman. Statistics from the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) also show that women-owned firms with up to $1 million in revenue beat the national average when it comes to revenue growth.
You, too, have what it takes to be a successful female entrepreneur. Clients and prospects will respect your willpower, creativity and commitment as you demonstrate your skill in your profession, while doing more with less.