Occasionally, things happen and your small business needs access to money. Cash is critical to small businesses, and many events can disrupt cash flow. An unexpected bill, a late payment from a customer, or even a personal problem, like ill health, can throw your business’s finances into disarray.
Moreover, the use of credit and debt can increase the need for consistent cash flow. Monthly loan, mortgage, or credit card payments put financial pressure on almost every family in America since nearly 87% of families are in debt.
Here are 10 different ways to earn money fast or save money for small businesses:
Set a Budget
It may seem boring, but one of the different ways to earn money fast is to set a budget for your business. Having a consistent expectation of expenses and revenue can help you on both ends by keeping expenses in check and maximizing revenue.
You can develop a budget on your own or seek the assistance of an accountant. In either case, the key is to use the budget for planning. If your current expenses and revenue shows a shortfall, you can act proactively to cut expenses or increase revenue for the month.
This may occasionally require some difficult choices. For example, most business owners are already overworked at 50 hours per week. However, if revenues show a shortfall, you may need to work even more hours to increase revenue.
One benefit of setting a budget is that you will have to conduct audits of both the source and amount of your current expenses and identify which of them should be included in the budget. It is only natural that, during this process, you will find expenses that can be eliminated from your budget.
While it can be difficult to identify expenses that can be eliminated from a budget, a few signs of waste include:
- Repetitive expenses: If your copier service contract includes toner, do not enter into a supply contract for toner.
- Unnecessary expenses: Your business is intended to make money and provide its goods and services to your customers. One of the different ways to earn money fast is to eliminate any expense that does not contribute to either of those goals should be reviewed for elimination.
- Inefficiencies: Look for processes where time and money are wasted. For example, if your accounting department routinely takes 30 days to pay bills and occasionally incurs late fees as a result, find ways to streamline the payables or negotiate for longer to pay accounts payable.
- Untapped resources: See if your business is wasting money by misusing existing resources. If your accounting department already includes a certified tax preparer, you might be able to use your accounting department for routine tax issues and only use your outside tax preparation service for annual filings and particularly thorny issues.
It may not seem obvious that cutting expenses is one of the different ways to earn money fast. But remember, every dollar that goes out the door is a dollar that does not go into your pocket.
Expenses have a tendency to bloat over time. Sometimes, no one thinks to challenge an expense just because it is a longstanding expense. However, when you are looking for different ways to earn money fast, you should be open to challenging every expense including:
- Make unpopular decisions: Even though your employees and customers love your coffee machine that makes individual servings of coffee, you might ditch the popular machine along with the expensive pods, in favor of a boring coffee pot to save money.
- Talk to employees: While it may make you feel good, you might find that your annual holiday party is unpopular. By cutting the expense, you can make your business more stable and may even be able to increase the end of year bonuses.
- Fire when needed: If an employee is not contributing to your business or, worse yet, holding your business back, you need to terminate that employee. Employee expenses are more than just the employee’s compensation. You may also be able to reduce your tax load and insurance costs by eliminating a non-contributing employee.
- Become more efficient: Some expenses may be eliminated because they are not needed once technologies bring new efficiencies. For example, going paperless might enable you to eliminate old goods that you have been saving via a moving and storage company. You can better use this space for seasonal storage instead of a ’round the clock necessity.
Retain Good Employees
While labor is likely to be your greatest expense, your workers are also your greatest asset. Without your employees and contractors, you likely cannot provide your goods and services to your customers. This means the departure of just one good employee could severely reduce your revenues.
Just as importantly, employee retention allows you to avoid onboarding expenses such as:
- Time and cost of adding replacement employees to the payroll system
- Training expenses
- Lost institutional knowledge
- Inefficiencies while replacement employees overcome the learning curve
- Lost customers when remaining employees are unable to meet their needs or leave with your employees
When you need different ways to earn money fast, it may seem unnatural to spend money to take an employee to lunch. However, your employees may be able to identify ways they can help the business as well. If you do not seek their input or show them appreciation, you may miss out on opportunities to simultaneously retain your employees and improve your business operations.
At the same time, however, there are circumstances where outsourcing might be the more efficient way to operate your business. For example, rather than shouldering the cost of buying or leasing, operating, and maintaining printing equipment, one of the different ways to earn money fast may be to eliminate that cost and outsource to a commercial graphics and signage company.
While outsourcing can have negative connotations, it can bring some benefits to your business such as:
- Expertise: You gain the benefit of experts in their field with knowledge and experience that you do not have.
- Efficiencies: Businesses that specialize in certain services or goods will often be able to provide them more efficiently than you can produce them on your own.
- Cost savings: Compared to hiring employees and owning equipment, outsourcing is often less expensive than handling things in house.
- Focus: Rather than doing areas you do not know, you can outsource ancillary activities and focus on running your business.
Some of the examples of services that can be outsourced include: network administration, computer security, payroll, printing, and marketing.
Inefficient or outdated equipment can create a drag on your business. When you need different ways to earn money fast, sell that equipment and replace it with newer, more efficient equipment.
This provides two benefits:
- Infusion of cash: Selling old equipment provides a cash infusion. Even old tools can be sold at a local pawn shop for cash.
- Improved operations: Getting rid of equipment that is not being used or is slowing down your business will make your business leaner and more productive. If replacing old tools improves productivity by 25%, that means you create two hours per day to take on more work.
Replacing equipment does not necessarily require a huge outlay of the cash from selling the old equipment. Many manufacturers sell or lease refurbished equipment at a fraction of the cost of new equipment. Moreover, almost every manufacturer finances equipment, which allows you to spread out the acquisition cost of your new equipment and pay only monthly payments.
One of the most effective of the different ways to earn money fast is to sell off some assets. If an asset is not useful, it locks up cash in the form of the asset.
For example, the gold coin collection that you received as a gift from a client cannot be spent on office rent, employee wages, or insurance premiums. However, those gold coins do have value to a gold buyer who can convert them into cash in your pocket.
Another way to use your assets is to use them to secure a line of credit or loan. Many banks will accept equipment, machinery, real estate, and vehicles as collateral. This can unlock cash for use in your business and allow you to retain your assets. However, be aware that if you default on your line of credit or loan, the bank can seize the collateral and sell it off to repay the loan.
All businesses seek to increase revenues and it is often easier said than done. However, technology has given businesses access to a much broader customer base than ever before.
Online ordering has allowed businesses to sell to customers across the world. For businesses that offer digital goods and services, like software applications, payroll processing, and tax preparation, they can work for customers in any location without even paying for shipping of physical products.
To access these customers, most businesses will need to invest a bit to start out:
- Upgraded digital presence: You will likely need an upgraded website to handle the anticipated increase in traffic.
- Digital marketing: You will need a digital marketing company to reach your potential customers. These companies can guide you in search engine optimization, social media promotion, and other digital techniques to reach customers online.
- Networking equipment: Many businesses will need to increase their networking capability to meet their communications needs as they become more reliant on online customers.
Find New Business Lines
Technology and circumstances create new business lines every day. Businesses that can adapt or add new product lines can find many different ways to earn money fast. For example, in late 2019, making and selling face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 would have been unheard of. In early 2020, however, this became a lucrative business.
Some ideas for identifying and exploiting these new business lines include:
- Stay current: Remaining current on both news and technological developments can help you to identify opportunities. For example, a digital marketing company must keep up on the trends in pay per click services to incorporate these services into their business offerings.
- Be flexible: When an opportunity is identified, act quickly to take advantage of it. The longer you wait, the more competition you will have when others identify the same opportunity.
- Create opportunities: Some opportunities are created. For example, hobby stores that created do-it-yourself face masks during the coronavirus pandemic created a brand new product line that had never been sold before, but had immediate demand.
- Do not overplay your hand: Many times, opportunities for new product lines are short-lived since trends end, circumstances change, and markets evolve. Stay on top of the market and be ready to shift or shut down the new products when competitors catch up.
Although it is overlooked by many businesses, improving compliance is one of the different ways to earn money fast. Legal and regulatory compliance is one of the greatest expenses that many businesses face. For example, tax compliance, health code compliance, and labor law compliance are undertaken by almost every business every day without ever realizing the level of legal services they use to satisfy them.
Streamlining compliance can have many benefits:
- Spend less on compliance: Moving some tasks in house or outsourcing other tasks can reduce expenses. For example, you might be able to make a one-time expenditure on a lawyer to design training materials for your employees and run a one-day seminar to reduce sexual harassment. This might be much less expensive and much more effective than paying the same lawyer to investigate sexual harassment allegations and defend your company against sexual harassment lawsuits.
- Fewer sanctions: By spending money on compliance, you can reduce or even eliminate fines, late fees, and other sanctions for violating laws and regulations. As one example, a single tax mistake can snowball into hundreds or even thousands of dollars in back taxes, interest, and penalties. Setting up a compliance program to catch those mistakes before they happen is almost always less expensive than fixing the mistake afterward.
- Develop a defense: In the event that you are found to be non-compliant, you may be able to reduce the potential sanctions by showing that you relied on your legal counsel and had a compliance program in place when the mistake occurred. This can help to establish that the mistake was innocent and not a deliberate attempt to dodge your legal responsibilities.
- Improved records: By maintaining a compliance program, your business will have better and clearer records in the event that you need to establish a paper trail. Moreover, your business will be able to move quickly to take advantage of short-lived opportunities such as disaster loans or other government programs.
There are always circumstances in which businesses get into a tight financial spot. Panic is usually not an effective way to escape those tight spots. Approaching your business in an organized way by taking a close look at your expenses, revenues, and assets can help you to find different ways to earn money fast.
Exploiting or selling off assets can put cash into your pocket immediately. Making your business more efficient, cutting expenses, and finding new sources of revenue can take longer to pay off, but might have longer-lasting effects as well. In the end, preserving cash, being responsible about cash flow, and balancing both short term needs and long term goals can help you to guide your business through difficult times.