While the federal government is trying hard to resuscitate the economy, it's still far from clear when things will improve. In the meantime, businesses really need to prepare for the worst. And this means keeping costs low.
To this end, it's probably a good idea to do an extensive inventory of your expense items. What do you need? What can you live without? No doubt, it can be an eye-opening exercise.
You might want to annualize the expense items. It can be surprising to see how seemingly small expenses can add up.
Once you have this put together, you can then reach out to your suppliers and vendors to see if you can get better rates. "It should be no surprise for them," said Devin Jopp, who is the Chief Operating Officer of SCORE (Counselors to America's Small Business). "Suppliers and vendors have spent a lot of time getting customers and it's expensive to let them go. So, they should be willing to renegotiate."
Now, this doesn't mean you should play hardball. After all, it's important to maintain a good relationship with suppliers and vendors. That is, price should not be the only consideration. Basically, you want to make sure there is quality, too.
OK, let's suppose you are not getting the deal you want. Well, in this case, it makes sense to seek out alternatives. The internet can be a big help.
For example, ResourceNation.com has an extensive referral service for small business providers, covering things like phone systems, payroll services, teleconferencing and so on. It's easy to use and is based on bids from qualified vendors and suppliers. All in all, it's definitely worth checking out -- and can help out your business in these tough times.
Tom Taulli is the author of various books, including The Complete M&A Handbook and The Streetsmart Guide to Short Selling: Techniques the Pros Use to Profit in Any Market. He is also the founder of BizEquity, a free online business valuation tool for small businesses.