We all know how important it is to spend wisely, and it is even more important to do so on your new business. I know the feeling - you constantly feel like you are just paying, and hardly getting anything in return. As most entrepreneurs will tell you, take the amount you think you will spend on your business and multiply it by 5 - that will be the ACTUAL amount you will spend. Scary, really.
On top of that, the only way to offer good prices to your customers is to keep costs low, so you do not have to mark up too much. This makes us really scrutinise every cent we spend. To be honest, perk's margins are not high, and we manage our pricing on a value-based pricing - what is the perceived value our customers get for the price they pay? While our pricing may not be the lowest in the market (comparing 6 for $25 panties by La Senza, or Cotton on), we strongly believe the value our customers get is higher. As such, we are priced appropriately - and we continue to keep costs low so we do not need to mark up higher.
I thought it apt to share some of my cost saving tricks with all of you. When times are dire, you get creative!
1) Creative and Design
It might come as a surprise (or no surprise) to some of you that I do not have an Adobe Photoshop license. All the banners I have designed so far come from my good friend "Paint". A tip: If you need to tilt angles of products, simply copy and paste them into Microsoft Powerpoint and you can play with angles!
2) Email Newsletter
I currently use Mailchimp for all my newsletter needs. Free up to 2000 subscribers, it is perfect for start ups since we will not have that volume of subscribers anyway. Mailchimp comes with design templates, reporting, list management tools - what's not to like?
The perk giveaway is carried out via Jotform - and it is so easy to use! Simply create your form, embed it into your website, and you have it. Best of all, Jotform now comes with integration options and you can sync your form submissions to Mailchimp. This way, you reduce the hassle of transferring your database from one place to another. (I hate the process of exporting and importing excels, and technology really has made it much easier.)
4) Email hosting
You do not need to purchase a hosting package for your own dedicated email. Gmail for businesses allows you to set up your email on your domain, and in my case, firstname.lastname@example.org. You just need to purchase your domain from websites like www.asiaregistry.com.
So far, these four tips have helped me keep my cost to a minimal, and as a result, I can then afford to not mark up on prices, and I can focus my spending on inventory purchases, packaging, marketing and customer service. One disclaimer though: you have to be very wiling to be hands on with the above 4 services, and not rely on others to do it for you. Trust me, the learning process is steep, but very worth it!