Since the day the doors opened to accept applications, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was the go-to solution for helping businesses stay afloat. It has been so popular that the first allotted $350 billion vanished in what feels like mere moments. Despite the rapid consumption of funds, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made a firm declaration in an interview about what small business owners can expect. “I want to assure all small businesses out there: We will not run out of money. The president has asked us to go back to Congress…And we want to assure everybody if you don’t get a loan this week, you’ll get a loan next week or the following week. The money will be there.”
If the funds are supposedly going to be there, what can you and your business do to stretch the money you have in the meantime? Here are some simple ways to do just that.
1. Adjust Your Approach to Marketing
Marketing is one of those traditional, you-have-to-spend-money-to-make-money situations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t approach it from other angles. There are several paths you can take to get your business on people’s radar. If it fits with your business model, consider doing some of the following:
- Ramp up your networking efforts. For the most part, all it will cost you is time and energy. People want to do business with people they know.
- Attend local meetings and community activities. Getting some quality face time with potential customers is always a great idea. Don’t be afraid to speak up and make yourself seen and heard. As more of these meetings move to virtual spaces due to safe social distancing practices, it’s even easier to set aside time to make your presence in the community known. Search your community websites for updates and details about when and where these digital meetings will take place.
- Lean into content marketing. It’s a low-to-no-cost marketing tactic with plenty of tools available to make it easy. No matter the industry, quality writing is an essential part of good marketing.
- Partner up and collaborate. If you can find and partner with similar or complementary businesses, it will allow you to pool your resources into a mutually beneficial marketing campaign.
- Reuse and recycle. If your current advertising campaigns are working and resonating with customers, don’t change them. Fully embrace the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it mentality.
2. Identify and Limit ‘Want’ Items
Take some time and look through your expenses. Track down and isolate items that eat through your funds, and begin separating them into a need-vs-want list. Have honest conversations with yourself and your team. Do you love your fancy pen that writes like a dream? Sure. Is it 100% necessary to do your job? Probably not. Find an inexpensive alternative that will still get the job done.
Whether it’s a high-cost item like a new fleet vehicle or something small like the type of pen you use, find areas where you can cut costs and operate on a needs-only basis. Once the crisis is over and funds are released, you can go back to your “want” items.
3. Look for Deals
Even if you’re not an extreme couponer, now is a great time to give it a whirl. As everyone fights to stay in business and help each other out, discounts, deals, events, and incentives are popping up everywhere. Sources you may not have been able to afford might now fall within your budget. As long as it won’t damage your current relationships, consider shopping elsewhere for essential services and items. Any chance you have to cut costs is likely a good option to consider.
4. Eliminate Waste
Whether you realize it or not, your business could be invisibly hemorrhaging money. While waiting for the next round of PPP funding to start, you might want to look at other areas of your business to cut additional costs. Perhaps your packaging solution could be restructured to better fit your product and save on materials. Maybe you could switch to more energy-efficient lightbulbs in your stores or reassess how you use your climate control systems. Whatever it is, there are likely some easily-overlooked areas of your operations wherein you could do a little trimming without eliminating employees.
5. Expand Your Digital Operations
In this modern age, every business needs to have a strong online presence. From social media and marketing to constructing a robust online store, every aspect of your digital presence needs to pivot and grow. Not only can this tactic keep cash flowing into your business during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but it can save you money in unexpected ways. The IDC claims the average business spends anywhere from 5–15% of its annual revenue on printing costs. By merely transitioning to a more digital approach, you can potentially save your business a decent chunk of change.
Find Your Unique Solution
All of these suggestions are just that—suggestions. It’s crucial for your business to look at all of your options from as many angles as possible. There’s no way for you to know every possible solution or way to save money as a business. Ask your partners, employees, and neutral third parties for advice on ways to stretch that dollar. You might be surprised by what they suggest, and their unique perspectives might be the difference between saving a little money and saving a lot.