5 Cost-Cutting Ideas for Small-Business Owners

By Holly Mangan

NEW YORK (Money Crashers) — “Business as usual” is taking on new meaning as businesses small and large prepare for change. For instance, if you employ at least 50 people, you may be considering layoffs or reducing staff hours to avoid taxes resulting from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But even very small businesses remain nervous about the economic climate and whether measures such as Obamacare will hurt their bottom line.

As a business owner, it's prudent to streamline your operation by trimming the fat wherever possible, realizing that a series of small yet regular savings can mean the difference between making it in the new business climate or not.

1. Barter your services
When the economy struggles, bartering for services can be an effective way to get what your business needs when you don't have the money to pay for it. To address inherent differences in the values of goods and services, organized barter exchanges enable business owners to earn "currency" good with the other members of that exchange toward their services. For example, if you offer accounting services via a barter exchange, a fellow member would pay you in "trade dollars" (that they presumably earned from bartering their product or service). You could then use these dollars to buy, say, printing services from another member of the exchange.

2. Buy used
You can often find gently used items at substantial discounts on Craigslist, eBay and Amazon. Even if you're looking for new, however, don't discount these sources. Many "used" products are simply open-box items that have been returned without being used. Do be aware, however, that warranties are typically voided if you are not the original buyer of an item. And always buy from a reputable seller with a solid return policy.