It’s a rule that every founder learns fast: operating expenses are a necessary evil. You need to spend money to make money… but putting too much towards utilities, rent, office supplies, and other expenditures could cripple your launch or slow your growth. Fortunately, today’s international businesses and startups have more opportunities than ever to minimize overhead as they build and scale. Knowing where to look and which resources to use is essential to cutting costs without cutting corners.
Here’s a guide to getting started now.
The very first step towards minimizing overhead for your international business is to assess your needs. What is mission-critical to your success? What is “nice-to-have”, but not necessary? For instance, you may not need business cards when most people today connect via the web. If you’re building a cross-border team, virtual interviewing is highly favorable to incurring travel expenses. Put every facet of your business (no matter how small) under a microscope, and start to better understand where you can trim the fat.
This one’s obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Going paperless reduces cost and clutter - and it’s getting easier every day. Cloud-based services allow us to store, share, and collaborate in real-time. Electronic signatures eliminate the need for documents. Book-keeping, record-keeping, and HR software make it easy to manage the paperless process. And all of the above allow you to save on costly printers, copiers, paper, and ink.
Learn the art of negotiation and use it often! As a founder, you’re your own biggest advocate. Push vendors, suppliers, and providers to give you the best possible prices for their services. Be open about the fact that you’re building a business - and about your potential for growth and future contracts.
Telecommuting is an essential part of how we work - even more so for international businesses. Invest in the platforms and tools that will help you build a connected network of global talent today - save a bundle on travel and meeting expenses as you scale and grow tomorrow. This list of resources is a great place to start.
This may feel counterintuitive - we’re talking about saving money, not spending it, right? - but outsourcing ceratin responsibilities will have a tremendous long-term impact on your business. Outsourcing things like accounting, IT, and marketing will keep your payroll down because you won’t have to hire new employees for those tasks. Even more importantly, it’ll free you up to focus on what matters most - growing the business. Best of all, professionals will be able to do things you can’t (like finding tax deductions you might have overlooked).
One of the absolute fundamentals of minimizing overhead, hiring smart will promote leanness at every level. Look for multi-talented individuals who feel confident stepping outside of their purview and contributing to growth in other areas. Seek efficient professionals who work fast and work smart. Encourage problem-solving so that employees can identify waste, and find solutions, without your oversight. As a founder, this is your time to build a culture and a team that knows the value of streamlining.
Finding physical space for your business is one of the most daunting expenses for any startup, and one that agile businesses know how to sidestep. Owning an office increases your financial exposure, whereas renting frees up cash that you can spend on other growth opportunities now. Another option for startups is membership in a coworking space, like OnePiece Work. Here, you can purchase a membership that includes creative office space, friendly onsite staff, networking events, and a full list of other amenities. What’s more, you’ll be joining a community of like-minded international founders who create, collaborate, and thrive together.
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