Bootstrapping your Business

Just reviewing this months figures. Right then, £200 weekly on fresh flowers, £60 on meeting cookies, £99 on premium Goldfish steak, oh that reminds me the gold fish are dead, best budget for a £1200 funeral service, and I’ll need £299 for invites for all my clients. This month is looking like it might go in to the brackets again. I wish there was something I could do to get a handle on these costs.

Running a small business is hard enough, and balancing the books for a designer is always a challenge, but the important thing is not to let your costs spiral out of control. Here’s a few ideas to save a little bit of bunce as your business grows:

1. Get an accountant

Uncle Neil does my account, and he’s amazing, I’ll admit we don’t have much in common and I think I probably ask way to many questions, but he’s been so valuable to my company, and saved me a lot of money. Now I’m not going to go into details about tax structure and tax saving ideas, but your account will, and it’s essential that you have someone in place that you can talk to, to make these kind of strategic decisions.

Don’t be tempted by the off-the-shelf packages that are much cheaper and work online, you need someone you can talk to, ask questions to and someone who can give advice. There are plenty of qualified professionals right here, so look no further than PPH

I think I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that Neil isn’t really my uncle, and he has no idea I call him ‘Uncle Neil’ but you get an idea of how much I like him, so go find your Uncle Neil, you can’t have mine. I sort of hope he never reads this.

2. Arrange meetings around peak-time travel

If you live outside of any major city, then travelling in for meetings can get really expensive. Where ever possible try to make your meetings at times so you can avoid the packed commuter trains. Besides the cost savings, you’ll probably be able to get some work  done on the train as well which in itself is a cost saving activity as you get more out of your working day. Just try not to sit next to an old lady who might pepper you with questions about what you do, and ‘WHAT THE INTERNET IS?’

3. Use Skype

My whole business runs on Mobile and Skype calls, at an SME level of business there’s no need to have landlines and pay extra monthly costs. Just make sure you have what I call a ‘Skype Hat’ handy, so if you haven’t done your hair, and a call pops up, you’re not going to scare anyone with your barnet.

4. Keep all your receipts

Obvious right? But it all adds up every Snickers, every drop of petrol bought and every inspirational book purchased can be set off against your tax. Speak to your uncle Neil about this.

5.  Google Docs and Open Source software

Buying software is ridiculously expensive, but there are some really amazing alternatives, Google Docs for example can pretty much cover your whole Microsoft suite, and it’s all free, other tools such as DropBox, Smartsheets and Evernote all offer free packages that can help your operation run smoothly.

6. Archive everything

For us designers, stock photography costs can build up, so make sure you’ve got a good archive of all the images you’ve bought for jobs and been given for different pieces of work. Keep them clearly labelled and categorised and on occasion you’ll save money reusing them in new pieces of work. Always check the licenses though.

7. Free banking

Most business bank accounts will offer you one years free banking, but some will offer you two years. Remember you have the option of switching banks and taking advantage of another service and the free terms they might offer you, don’t be afraid to play hard ball with your Business Account Manager, remember they don’t really care they just want you to be happy.

8. Arrange meetings at 11am or 2pm

This is quite frankly embarrassing, but as cheapskate moves go, this is right up there. Booking meetings at this time means you can avoid having a ‘Lunch Meeting’, which lead to two potentially fatal scenarios. One; your client insists you go to some fancy joint to try and impress you, and you have to buy yourself an expensive lunch, or, two; you finish your lunch, and the waiter brings you the bill, and the client utters the words ‘if you get this one, I’ll get the next one’… your whole world goes in slow motion, and your head begins to throb as you realise there probably will never be a ‘next time’.

When you break your work down into how much everything costs, it can get a little bit depressing, ‘that logo design just paid for my water bill’, or that ‘web site just about covered the repairs to my car this month’ for example. Try never to think like this, the cash flow of your small business is not a linear line of numbers that trots into your bank account, sits on a comfy chair, then poodles off in the direction of someone else’s pocket. Cash flow is just a product of a working relationship with a client, and building these relationship is what keeps the cash flowing.


So what advice do you have for small business owners and freelancers? There’s hundreds of sites out there offering this kind of advice, but what real day-to-day tips do you have to help save a few pounds here and there. What’s your greatest money saving tip, and what do you wish you’d done right at the start of setting up your business that could have saved you money?

If you wish to guest blog for us, please contact our Community Manager Dea-Marie:, thank you.

Kelly Jane
Kelly Jane
Kelly is PeoplePerHour marketing expert. She has a wealth of experience in digital and social media marketing. As a freelancer, she has been committed in helping small businesses grow by offering them agile and result-driven marketing services.
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