Doing Business on a Budget

After working with a few small businesses for so many years, I couldn’t help but noticing all the funny little ways each one had of trimming the fat from their budgets. Everyone had their own little system in place to save pennies and it was fun to try incorporate those practices into the way I run my own business.

That’s not to say that I’m stingy when it comes to spending some coin on my business, but when it comes to running a small enterprise I think there will always be moments where we find ourselves tempted to cut costs in order to run as efficiently and simply as possible. Here are some of my favorite ways to do it.

Make it work for you. It’s more important that you identify your own needs for running your business, instead of trying to adhere to someone else’s vision of what your business should look like. Not everyone’s list will look the same. Other things that people deem essential might differ from yours: you might consider a second phone line crucial; and others might scoff at the thought of using anything but email as their prime form of communication.

It’s important to figure out what your bottom line is so you know much (or how little) you can get by with in order for your business to function. If that means foregoing the idea of an office, or a fancy luncheon every day, so be it. You’d be surprised at how refreshing it can be to simplify your routine.

Get creative. Most people dream of having their own home office, but not everyone can afford to make that dream a reality- and not just due to budget constraints. Time, space, lifestyle- each one of these things reflect when, where and how you conduct your business. I’ve seen people with home offices with all of the latest state-of-the-art tech equipment, and I’ve met people who have conducted their business at the dining table after clearing off the dinner dishes. It’s worth exploring alternative ways to make your office hours and office setting work for you– it may be just what you need to cut costs and find a more efficient way of working.

Be realistic. Just because your vision of owning your own business involves going out for a fancy latté every day, it’s a luxury that entrepreneurs can’t always afford. While it would be nice to reward ourselves for our hard work with things like fancy coffees, special office supplies, or a complete office makeover, those things aren’t always possible when you’re first starting out, or if you’re trying to keep your operations small. As soon as you adjust your expectations for a glamorous freelancing lifestyle, the more satisfied you’ll be with your budget-friendly work style.

Of course, there’s always room for compromise– upgrading your regular office coffee maker to a Keurig or even an espresso machine may still be cheaper in the long-term than buying a fancy latté everyday. Or maybe you use your local Starbucks at your office, and the price of coffee counts towards your “rent”, in which case there’s plenty of room to save money on leasehold improvements!

Cutting costs where possible can be a satisfying and even refreshing way of making sure your business is running as cheaply and efficiently as possible. We often convince ourselves we need the latest gadgets, or the most expensive suits to succeed when the truth is that success is often directly correlated with the amount of work we put into something.

A final note: even the most ruthless of budgets should include at least a little room to be generous to ourselves as entrepreneurs. Running a small business is more like a lifestyle than a job, and when we structure our lives around working all the time, it’s important to have a reminder that your work is more than just about paying the bills. You deserve to have some fun!

Even if that means indulging at Starbucks once in a while.


What are some of the creative ways you’ve come up with to save money while running your own business. Did you sacrifice an office? A phone line? How has this transformed the way you work? Send your stories to me at or comment below.

5 Truths for the Self-Employed

When I transitioned from working full-time at an office to working for myself it was a bit of a shock. Even though I used to freelance many years ago, I still found myself stuck with certain beliefs that people have about the life of the self-employed. Here are some of the things that I had forgotten:
  1. You have no free time. I think everyone has this vision for themselves: you get up a leisurely pace, linger over coffee and maybe squeeze in a couple of hours of light work before having time to visit with friends or pursue hobbies. Not so! Working for yourself means not having the luxury of leaving your work at the office. You’re on 24/7 which can mean early mornings and long nights.
  2. But you still have to try to have a life. Just because you can work from home all of the time doesn’t mean you should. In fact, it may be harder to tear yourself away from your work when it’s there constantly in front of you. Sometimes I have to force myself to take breaks and I’m still trying to learn when to walk away from something when it’s “good enough”.
  3. You’re responsible for everything. When you work for yourself you are your own boss but you’re also an accountant, an administrator and your own HR department. Even if you’re fortunate enough to be able to farm tasks out to others, you’re still responsible for a heck of a lot more than you normally would in a traditional office setting.
  4. But you’re also responsible for everything else. Your real-life responsibilities are always going to be staring you in the face when you work from home. Chores, errands and other household tasks are going to have to be incorporated into your day somehow. (And if you’re wondering, yes I’ve responded to client emails between doing loads of laundry!)
  5. It can get kind of lonely. Being stuck in front of a computer isn’t really conducive to being social. Plus, without any colleagues around as built-in coffee companions I can sometimes go a whole day without talking to a real, live person.

Running a small business is a challenge and it’s one that everyone seems to faced with these days as companies shrink, more employees take on side hustles, and more people work for themselves. As the owner of a small business, I’m always looking for ways to manage my professional life, which I write about here. I’ve also worked in several offices, so I share some of my workplace strategies here. Looking for ideas on how to market your business? I write about that too.

Do you have your own business? Tell us all about it and the ways you manage your professional life by commenting below or emailing