Live Like a Student and Save Your Small Business a Packet
Morose-looking people on cycles, braying giants in rugby shirts in your local pub and people paying for four-quid rounds with credit cards – it can only mean one thing: the students are back at college.
While we can all find their behaviour a little er, challenging at times, there are many lessons in economic management to learn from those scholars. See if any of these can help you save money in your small business:
1) Take your money out in cash at the beginning of the week. This is an easy way to keep your spending down because handing over ‘real’, physical money is so much more difficult than putting stuff on a harmless-looking plastic card. Fifty quid in notes still looks like a lot of dough, popping in your PIN doesn’t – until you look at your statement and wonder where it all went wrong.
2) Invest in older reconditioned computer equipment. Just to be clear, I’m not advocating buying a VIC 20 or a vintage Amstrad, but the processing power of PCs and Macs from a couple of years ago can easily cope with pretty much anything you throw at it. Check eBay for older models - the difference in price is startling. If you’re an Apple user determined to get the latest Macbook Air, try the reconditioned models from the Refurbished area of the Apple Store. Not many people know about it but it can save you a lot of cash.
3) Find some free WiFi. Students: tight, but always on Facebook. How? Usually by using the free WiFi you get at coffee shops, pubs and libraries (which often let you use their PCs for free). This isn’t a long-term solution but if you need to get on the net when you’ve been cut off or you’re on the move, check this website for details of where you can log on free. And then learn how to make a Starbucks coffee last five hours.
4) Work the discounts. A number of organisations now offer discounts for small businesses. We’ve seen examples of these discounts offered by companies such as hotels, training providers, web development firms and even local restaurants. Discount not stated? Just ask politely, you never know!
5) Budget budget budget. Any self-respecting student on a budget will know exactly where they are with their money at any given time. Most will know precisely what they’ve got going out and coming in and what they’ve got left to spend. Do the same in your business – getting a tight grip on your cash flow is essential to running a successful business.
6) Make giant meals for lunch in a pan the size of Wales. InThe Young Ones, put-upon hippie Neil fed the rest of his housemates with risotto, which, along with spag bol, curry and chilli is a signature student dish. With an average Pret a Manger lunch costing at least five quid, you can save around £15 a week or more by making your own lunch for work. However, putting a Post-It note on your Tupperware box saying ‘Hands off! This pasta bake belongs to John’ may be going a little far. Try the Student Recipes site for inspiration.
7) Sell your car and buy a bike. OK, this isn’t practical if you live out in the countryside but city- and suburban-dwellers can really benefit from two-wheel transport. Not only will you save money on your petrol/repairs/MOT, but the exercise you get will a) give you that sense of wellbeing and b) negate the need to join a gym, thus saving you even more money.
Do you know somewhere that offers a good small business discount? Do you have any economising tips of your own?