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By American Express
If a small business could be run on passion and enthusiasm alone, the streets of Boston would be filled to the brim with every kind of business imaginable. Successful business owners know that not only do you need to maintain a quality product or service, but there’s often an exorbitant amount of time, energy, and capital required for survival and most importantly, growth.
Here are four ways small business owners can keep expenses in check to improve cash flow and help increase profits.
Materials and supplies can add up to be some of the largest expenses for small business owners so it’s important to ensure these items are obtained at the lowest possible cost. Before negotiating with any one supplier, comparison shop to understand alternatives and prices offered by your suppliers’ competitors.
Be sure to ask questions. There may be variations in product delivery, as well as variable payment terms to be considered. Some suppliers will offer a small discount if invoices are paid in full ahead of schedule. The only way to know if you’re getting a good deal and maximizing your savings is to do your homework.
If there are certain materials or supplies that your small business is buying in large quantities or are constantly re-ordering, consider what can be bought in bulk. Find out if any suppliers offer a discount based on quantity so you can choose the supplier that will get you the lowest cost per unit possible. Just make sure that you are only buying items in bulk that you use frequently. Items sitting in storage won’t save you any money.
The payment choices you offer can send a strong message to customers about the health, relevance and strength of your business. “The one piece of advice I always give to small business owners is to do your research when it comes to accepting payments,” shares Ramon Ray, four-time entrepreneur and best-selling author. “Speed and convenience are important. Ask yourself, am I accepting digital point-of-sale payments or credit cards like American Express so my customers can pay whatever way they want?”
American Express has actually changed the way it works with small businesses with the introduction of their OptBlue program. With OptBlue, American Express no longer sets the rate, merchant providers do, which means you could find a better rate for your business. Business owners also get the benefits of a single statement for all card brands they accept, fast deposit into their account, and one contact for all servicing. Over 27,000 more places in the Boston area started accepting American Express Cards in the last year.
American Express made some big investments in how it backs merchants and helps them grow, including enhancing fraud-prevention capabilities, updating merchant policies and other changes that help merchants reach more customers. According to American Express, in 2017, the company provided more than 15 million people with recommendations on where to shop.
“I use American Express exclusively in my business life so accepting American Express Cards was a no-brainer,” says Rebecca Roth Gullo, owner and founder of Blackbird Doughnuts. “American Express has definitely had a positive impact on my business.”
What makes your small business different than any other business in the area? Assuming you did your research before opening up shop, your business is likely unique compared to other Boston-area businesses. Harness your uniqueness and offer up your skills or services to other small business owners in exchange for something you need.
If you have a brick-and-mortar footprint, consider leveraging the currency of your space or the facilities within your space outside of normal business hours. This can become another bargaining chip to secure the services you need to run your business without incurring incremental costs.
It would be rare to find another small business owner that is not looking for ways to cut costs while focusing on business growth. With technology today, there are so many great ways for business owners to connect with one another. Trading for services should be well received.
Not only is it good for mother earth, but being energy efficient throughout your operation can help your bottom line. For starters, check with your energy provider as they may be able to offer customized energy savings recommendations for your business. They may even offer incentives to help you save.
One of the easiest ways to save energy is to optimize the lighting at your workplace. If your place of business gets natural sunlight during the day, let it shine on in and turn off the lights. If you do need to turn on the lights, make sure you are using LED light bulbs which use about 80 percent less energy and are much more cost-effective than traditional incandescent bulbs. They last about 200 times longer. Installing lighting controls or sensors can help ensure that lights are only on when they need to be in use.
Small business owners should also invest in energy efficient equipment and appliances to help save money. Even a small improvement in efficiency can generate significant savings in energy costs.
To find out how you can start accepting American Express cards through OptBlue visit OptBlue.com or contact your merchant service provider directly.
 Source: American Express; based on internal comparison of American Express small merchant locations in December 2016 to American Express small merchant locations in December 2017.