Looking to cut some costs? Ask these 4 Qs

Apr 17, 2020 | Anne's Blog, Process

When it comes to swiftly-moving, globally-impacting, life-altering viruses, it turns out, I’m not a fan. ‘Yuck’ pretty much sums it up.

I mean, I’m surviving… at home, staying warm, eating well, taking care of my pup. I still get riled up by Washington drama, a little more these days. I miss seeing my folks regularly, who only live 12 miles away, but I’m lucky in that they live in an independent cottage, so I can still physically check in on them every once in a while. Their friends living in the complex’s main building can’t have visitors at all.

I’m managing life day-to-day. What pushes me over the edge into anger, frustration, sleeplessness… is primarily the issue of work. Business as Unusual is making life these days feel like a bundle of f@%k.

Everyone I know is somewhere along the “bundle of f@%k” spectrum.

I have clients who can’t sleep, who are anxious, who are trying to push through. One who’s battling the virus itself, others who’ve been forced to lay-off employees, halt production, shut their doors for an unknown amount of time.

Me… I’ve postponed/suspended/delayed my annual live event. The event is a critical face-to-face, teaching and sales opportunity for me and kinda acts as a barometer for what my business will look like for the following six months.

So ‘not knowing’ is a drag, for sure, and all business owners will deal with it differently. Some entrepreneurs are filling the present vacuum with of-the-moment advice, courses, products and offers. Other business owners feel the need to retreat and retract. Which is all okay. Times like these are when you have to turn away from the noise and turn into your instinct. Really really listen closely to what your gut is telling you to do to stay healthy, balanced and ready to wake up again tomorrow.

As someone who thinks about business numbers and improving operations to maximize profit, I’m doing what I need to, to adjust to this.

I’m going through my Four Expense Questions.

The Four Expense Questions are a reliable and intelligent guide to help YOU figure out what you can keep, and what you can cut, in any situation. Because things change, whether or not you can ‘afford’ something will change too. So rather than trying to apply once-and-for-all decisions to variable business circumstances, it makes sense to have a powerful decision-making process that you can use over and over again.

I’ve been depending on these four questions for years, exactly because they work for major and minor expenses, help to make decisions big and small, and apply equally in both good times and pandemics.

Whenever you’re trying to decide whether you should make an investment (spend) or cut an expense (save), these four questions will guide you to an informed answer.

1. Does this expense directly contribute to revenue generation?

You WILL have expenses that help you bring in business and deliver your work. Don’t let anyone tell you to stop buying Facebook ads, if those are bringing in clients and revenue! On the other hand, if you’re paying for a basket of domain names you once had a dream of using, but aren’t actually offering any services related to those domains… that’s a cost you can easily cut without your clients even noticing it’s gone.

2. Do you need to incur that expense (do you need that thing) NOW?

Consider waiting. Or not. Do you need a graphic designer to finish that e-book you could start selling right away? Money well-spent. Do you need a graphic designer to finish your new business cards, that you can’t even get printed right now during shut-down? (Where are you going to hand those things out anyway?) Same service, different projects. One of which can and should wait (or maybe not be done at all).

3. Can I get the price reduced?

It’s always worth asking. Lots of businesses are getting creative with payment plans, deferred payments and discounts to push through right now. Can you ‘drop a level’ in your subscription or membership

4. Is there a less costly way to achieve the same result?

Look for new solutions to the problem. How else can you achieve the objective? I have a few clients who signed up for very powerful, and expensive, CRM apps. More powerful than they need right now. That’s not a bad idea — you can often save money in the long run by locking in great prices for software you don’t need YET. BUT. When it’s time to tighten the belt, and you’re nurturing a list of 2,000 names but paying for software that manages 15,000+… there are definitely less expensive, even free options. I’ve looked at my own software, and am moving to a different solution that will save me about $200/month. Not chump change. The objective will still be met, but with a different, less costly solution.

Ask these questions now, for now. If we’re learning anything, we’re realizing what was ‘necessary’ yesterday may be ‘nice to have but not needed’ today. If you decide to dial back some spending now, it doesn’t mean you can’t ever go back. This is about doing what you need to do to face each day, sustain the energy in your business, and feel ready for whatever comes next. You’ll need new business cards when we all start networking again (if you network in person). Your list WILL hit those 15,000 subscribers you’re seeking — maybe sooner than later because you’re spending extra time reaching out now and being real. You are, aren’t you?

What are you cutting back on? Anything?

Work through these Four Expense Questions on a couple of current expenses, and let me know what you find. Are you able to to shift, reduce, or cut any costs? Email me at anne@eyeonyourbusiness.net, and tell me what’s changing, and how you’re faring.

In the meantime… wash your hands, don’t touch your face, stay inside and stay safe.