12 Money Saving Tips for Start-ups

From our experience, running a business need not cost an arm or a leg. However, we realize that entrepreneurs tend to compartmentalize their personal budgeting away from business budgeting. While it is true that you need to invest a sunk cost to get your business going, you should watch your business spending as much as (or even more closely than) your personal finances.

Here are some proven innovative cost saving ideas to cut costs and stretch your dollar.

 

Follow Procurement Best Practices

It is not enough to simply record your expenses and explain their practical use in the business. You need cost saving ideas to maximize cash flow. Often there are more cost-effective solutions to save money and you need to compare prices before making a purchase. Make it a habit among your team members to source for the most cost-effective solution and presenting their researched options to you before committing to a purchase. But who has time to do all that right, so save yourself the time and hassle and get quotations from ThunderQuote for free.

Just another tip: Assign your most trustworthy and meticulous team member to be in charge of all fund outflows. All proposed expenditure need to be justified to him and there should be no commitment to purchase before his approval, else it’ll be easy to overrun your budget without realising it till the end of the month or worse!

 

Use Free Advertising

There are many free alternatives to paid advertising. Getting paid clicks on social media platforms and Google are targeted and cheaper than the regular billboards, but they may still be expensive for a start-up who needs to cut costs for other business opportunities.

Blogging with good SEO keywording is one way to save money and get free traffic to your website and build your company’s reputation as a thought leader in your industry. Building your repertoire of articles will take a long process, but this is a long-term marketing strategy to build brand awareness.

You can accelerate your web traffic through email marketing and setting up a newsletter. However, buying email lists can be extremely expensive and easily 50% of the emails in the list are outdated. You can create your own email lists, but that will take a very long process. Manually finding 50 emails can take up to 4 hours. You should automate this process for free with TQ Prospector, which extracts 50 emails in 8 minutes. That saves you time to attend to your more important business appointments.

 

Run Your Business from Home

In many countries, a home office is legal and may only require a licence. Take advantage of this flexibility to save your rental and transportation costs. By home office, I also mean working from Starbucks and other cafes at your convenience.

If your business is really successful and your home cannot accommodate your expansion, look for co-working spaces such as Workcentral with all the amenities provided at a cheap cost or incubators like NUS Enterprise which provide free hot-desking spaces are great too! Once again, do your shopping and find the cheapest option that doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet.

 

Go to Conferences for Free

Oh I love this one! Usually conference organizers are understaffed because conferences occur very infrequently. And they tend to hire a lot of part-time working students to shoulder the heavy-lifting for them. Hiring part-time students cost money too! You can help them cut costs through some innovative negotiation.

Here’s what you can offer them: Tell the conference organizer that you have a team of friends who are willing to volunteer their help for free in exchange for participation in the conference. I did this for 6 conferences already, and every one of them were glad to take me in!

And here is the good part: Invite your team and friends for a free learning and networking opportunity in an otherwise expensive conference, at the cost of ushering or doing registration for a short time. You will gain a good standing as being resourceful and generous. So why not?

 

Get Sponsors for Your Own Events

While networking at the events you attend for free, you may meet people who find your services extremely valuable and they may want to sponsor you. I recently attended my friend’s book launch at a Harley Davidson showroom, complete with a sponsored test drive, sponsored catering and sponsored wines. How did he do that? He conveyed the vision for his book in a way that resonated with the vision of his sponsors’ values. His sponsors saw the alignment of vision and decided that sponsoring his book launch is the perfect way to convey their vision to the public. So it is possible! Be creative about getting sponsorship.

 

Buy Refurbished Equipment

You do not always have to buy new equipment if you are not operating your office as a showroom. A refurbished photocopier, cupboard and mini fridge may not look fancy, but they certainly do their job and saves you money. If you work in a co-working space, these may already be provided to you. Otherwise just find a thrift shop, buy in bulk and get a discount.

 

Don’t Hire Full-Time Employees

On the surface, this sounds harsh. But the truth is that you do your entire team a favor in the long-run. Hiring full-time employees can be expensive, and you don’t want a case where you put them out of job if the worst happens. Begin with interns and contract staff to help you with various projects within the business. Your interns will greatly value the experience you offer along with the allowance to pay off their student loans. That helps both you and your interns save money!

If you need a longer-term solution, look for part-time hires. These may be new mothers who need time to look after their kids or university students and other people in a season of transition. Hire a full-time employee only once your start-up has grown enough to need and afford one.

 

Be Lazy. Do It Once, Automate.

What business processes can you completely leave to a machine to handle? I wrote a full article about how you can automate your sales and marketing at zero cost. There are automation tools for almost everything. Write down all your business processes and Google search for tools that can do that 10 times faster than you. Typically, the cost is small relative to the time you save for the things you cannot automate, like meeting prospects and clients. Saving time means money making opportunities for you and your business.

 

Keep It Lean: Outsource

Anything apart from your core business? Outsource. Warehousing? Outsource. Delivery and fulfilment? Outsource. Graphic design? Outsource. Keep your business focused on your core product and lighten the load of your team with what truly matters. Hire consultants as needed on a project basis. This will ensure that you have more time devoted to your team and cut overhead costs and put your money to other uses.

 

Watch Your Cash Cycle

Take note of your accounts collectibles and payables, ensuring that you get money in faster than you pay out is incredibly important especially as a cash strapped start-up.

Even if your income and expenses look healthy, you don’t want to get catch in a situation where your cash on hand falls beneath what you require for daily operations! Read more about cash flow mistakes and tips on how to better manage your cash flow here.

 

Value Your Employee Time

Your employees typically spend 8 hours in office, with a lot of time wasted in meetings. Keep your meetings short! For an introvert like me, meetings drain my mental energy and that means less productivity for the rest of the day. Please spare a thought for the awkward geeky nervous nerds like me.

Rather than having everyone travel to a centralized venue for a meeting, just do teleconferencing, or videoconferencing. In my company we find Skype the most convenient solution to get our meetings done quick. An introvert like me prefers that actually.

 

Negotiate

Negotiate with your landlord. Negotiate with your suppliers. Negotiate for a barter trade. Negotiate for a longer payment period, cheaper rates and yes, an exchange of services.

Negotiate is not about getting all of the pie. Negotiating is about making the pie bigger. Often we don’t know what our counterpart really wants. We just assume that they want the cash. Take time to develop the relationship and know what they need. Perhaps you have something to offer to them that is of value. My marketing consultant wanted to revamp her website and I wanted an email campaign. Guess what? We bartered. And the cost savings we got could be put to other business opportunities.

Find a win-win situation for everyone to come away happy at the outcome and build the relationship.

 

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.

The Next Big Thing In Digital Marketing And How It could Cost You Your Job

Technological disruption is upon us. The world is changing too fast for us to be comfortable with our jobs. Every industry is being disrupted. Transport, finance, law, medicine, manufacturing, you name it. Everything is changing.

We are long past the dawn of Industry 4.0. Early adopters of these technologies are already reaping the benefits even at the cost of jobs. Just a few years ago, Artificial Intelligence, IoT, blockchain, 5G and cloud computing were cliché buzzwords.

But now they are here to stay. And they are disrupting every industry, including yours.

 

Disruptive Marketing Technologies

In the field of marketing, processes have undergone a radical transformation at breakneck speeds. Marketing Technology or Martech is transforming the industry in multiple ways.

  • Reach Maximisation. Companies are looking for exponential virality to reach global fame in a shorter amount of time.
  • Cross-Channel Campaign Marketing. The trend towards integrating multiple platforms helps to create greater impact with their campaigns.
  • Work Flow Automation. Many platforms now offer the option to put marketing campaigns on autopilot.
  • Personalised Advertising. Sales are shown to increase when tailored to individuals’ preferences and past purchasing habits.
  • Conversion Optimisation. Data analytics offers a comprehensive look into the levels of effectiveness of various marketing messages and tools.

 

These marketing technology trends are shaping every corner of the industry

Technology Trend Industrial Application
Reach Maximisation Search Engine Optimisation – Using relevant keywords in web content to increase search engine traffic

Content Management System – Monitoring websites and blogs to track engagement levels

Cross-Channel Marketing Cross-Channel Campaign Marketing Software – Centralised management software that syncs multiple marketing platforms

Social Media Calendar – Centralised management of social media marketing platforms

Work Flow Automation Email Marketing Automation – Technology that automates email marketing campaigns with scheduling, tracking and follow-up tools
Personalised Marketing Retargeting – Online advertising based on web history (often managed by online advertising agencies)

Cookies-Based Advertising – Similar to Retargeting, except that it is often employed by individual websites and its applications can be extended to email marketing

Conversion Optimisation Web Analytics – Analysis of web traffic, including sources of traffic, length of time spent on website, bounce rates and conversion rates

A/B Testing – Experimentation of the effectiveness of marketing messages (often used in email marketing)

 

 

The Next Email Marketing Disruption

The next big step for email marketing involves a thorough automation of customer relationship management with artificial intelligence. We already see artificial intelligence being used in self-driving cars, Alexa and China’s robot news anchor.

The area of artificial intelligence that is most relevant to email marketing is Natural Language Processing. Natural Language Processing or NLP for short is already capable of creating email marketing content without the need of a content writer.

To illustrate this reality, look at a recent example from China. In the technological hub of Guangzhou, the newspaper company Southern Metropolis Daily launched its robot journalist that is capable of writing a coherent 300-word story in just 1 second. This threatens to uproot professional journalism as a profession, and can be directly applied to content writing for email marketing.

Artificial intelligence experts working on natural language processing are still trying to find the right mix of rules-based and statistical-based modelling. Currently, the technology is capable of categorising customer requests and providing accurate answers to frequently asked questions.

Right now, we see this in chatbots all over the internet. These chatbots are limited in their functions as they try to match customer requests to standardised answers. However, chatbots are just the beginning of artificial intelligence, and we will see its application in all areas of email marketing in the near future.

We will expect content writing to become automated. Robots will extract information directly from the internet and put them together into blog posts and email newsletters.

We will also expect to see robots capable of answering email subscribers beyond a standardised answer. They will be able to generate their own answers by sourcing information on the internet independently.

 

What We Should Do

Artificial intelligence is still in its infancy, but we should stay updated about the development trends around this technology.

There is a way to stay ahead in the marketing industry. To stay relevant with the technological disruption we are facing, we need to start learning how to adopt technologies into our work.

There are email marketing technologies that are already transforming the way we generate leads. Take the TQ Prospector Tool for example, which extracts every single email and phone number from your Google search results with just one click.

If we fall behind the industry, we will quickly be replaced by tech-savvy competitors. That is why we need to continually upgrade our skills and the tools we work with to ensure we stay ahead of the competition. You can read more about other marketing automation tools I recommend in this article here.

But my top recommendation to work smarter is TQ Prospector! It’s free and it helps you extract as many as 200 emails in 10 minutes or so. So get this tool now to help you stay ahead of the competition!

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.

5 Free Tools To Make Email Marketing Work Harder For You

Email marketing can become a laborious process that can seriously suck the joy out of your passion. Let’s keep things simple here. I have a few email marketing software tools that I highly recommend for any marketer to use. Coming from a start-up background, a lean team really needs some serious automation firepower. Let’s fire away.

 

TQ Prospector

If you are doing email marketing, you will either buy email lists that are ridiculously overpriced and 50% outdated or you will manually extract emails one at a time from Google. Both aren’t the best options on the market.

If you are someone like me who takes 4 hours to source 50 emails, TQ Prospector cuts that down to 8 minutes. Yup you read that right. This Chrome extension can source every single email from your Google search results without you even having to click on the websites. Add this to your arsenal. It’s free by the way.

 

Hello Bar

Apart from sourcing emails automatically, you will definitely want to convert your web traffic into email leads before they leave the site. Too often, your visitors scroll through your website and go “I guess I’ll think about it, but not now.” Then you lose your chance funnel them into your email marketing campaign.

What Hello Bar does for you is to add sticky bars to catch your visitors’ attention before they leave. You can offer a free newsletter or a free ebook through subscribing to the free mailing list. This helps you follow up with your prospects and funnel them into your email campaign. Grab this low-hanging fruit.

 

POWr

Sticky bars may not always do the trick for your website visitors. Sometimes you need a pop-up that communicates the value of your freebie in a bolder and louder voice. By just offering their email, your visitors can get your free gift plus plenty of other offers? Why not?

POWr really powers your lead generation and drives more traffic to your webpage. The full suite includes plugins like social media icons, form builders, chat functions, maps and much more. Take a look and shop for what you need. I mean free shopping.

 

Campaign Monitor

Now that you got your email list generated, it’s time to put it to work. Once again, you could manually email your leads and read each reply and follow up with another email. Or you can simply automate it.

Campaign monitor is a killer at email automation. This email marketing platform helps you schedule emails, email blast, autoreply and track your progress on your email marketing campaign. It is more than an email blast software. It is seamless, intuitive and reliable. It is a free subscription with upgradable features. It is very affordable relative to its competitors so far, and considering the time you save to focus on other things that matter, I think this tool is a must-have. Lock and load.

 

Agile CRM

There comes a point in your email marketing campaign that you need to build relationships with prospects more personally and automation just won’t cut it. There are a lot of CRM software available in the market, but Agile is free (yep I love free stuff) and it syncs well with Campaign monitor. It is probably the best customer relationship management software available in the market.

You will definitely appreciate the wealth of resources they uploaded to supercharge your email marketing. And not surprisingly for a customer relationship management system, their customer service is pretty good!

 

These free email marketing software tools are among many that are available in the market. I highly recommend that you take time to research your company needs and continue to source for other alternative tools or look into the paid tiers of these tools as your needs grow.

 

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.

 

6 Cash Flow Mistakes Start-ups Make & How To Avoid Them

Cash flow management problems are one of the top start-up killers today. It is often true that the more funding you raise, the more money you waste. Paradoxically, cash flow management problems frequently occur after investors inject a ton of cash into a start-up. Here’s why:

Entrepreneurs tend to be frugal and prudent when cash flow is running tight and monitoring is easy. Bootstrapping also forces us to think hard about their expenditure to make every cent count.

Conversely, after a huge round of funding, we tend to become complacent and have a grossly mistaken delusion that we have made it big and the future is set in stone. IT IS NOT!

So here is our advice and our fellow entrepreneurs’ experience. Some of whom learnt these cash flow management lessons the hard way so that you don’t have to repeat them. Let’s dive in.

 

Reckless spending

It is true that we should not get too caught up with micromanaging our petty cash so that we can focus on the goals that matter. However, you need your team to buy-in to the reality that a start-up has less resources than an MNC. Every cent counts. With a frugal mindset, your team should ask themselves the following questions before buying anything:

  1. Do we really need this?
  2. Do we already have this or a substitute somewhere in the office?
  3. Is this this the most cost-effective option available?

Question 3 is crucial. Please understand that “cheap” is not the same as “cost effective”. Buying a cheap printer with expensive ink cartridges and a short lifespan is NOT cost-effective. I recommend that you calculate the lifetime cost of using a product before committing to a purchase. Here is an example:

Assume we will print 1,000 pagesper year

Printer upfront cost Printer lifespan Ink cartridge cost Number of pages each cartridge can print Number of cartridges used over printer lifespan Total Cost over printer lifespan Total annual cost
Printer A $80 2 years $40 80 25 $1,080 $540
Printer B $140 5 years $35 100 50 $1,890 $378
Printer C $260 5 years $50 200 25 $1,510 $302

 

Clearly from the example, Printer C is the most cost-effective solution despite having the highest printer cost. The savings per year is actually $238! So take the effort to calculate the best option for your start-up and stretch your dollar to improve cash flow.

 

Spamming hires

I know that your investors will pressure you to maximise your company growth over revenue. You need to be very weary of that advice. What are your investors motivated by? They want your company to group 400% in valuation so that they can quickly exit within 5 years, sometimes 3 years. Right? The reason for their aggressive growth push is because only 10% of their portfolio start-ups will ever make it big, and they promise their investors that they will produce 20% in annualised returns regardless of your long term cash flow management issues.

Your investors’ motivations will seldom coincide with yours, even if they were former entrepreneurs themselves. So, be wise about how you handle investor-relations. Bear this in mind: Don’t hire hastily. Hire right, not hire fast.

What’s more if you want to scale up, automating processes instead of getting more hires will be a much better long-term solution. So keep your team lean with some of the following tips.

  • Automate lead generation with TQ Prospector which enables you to consistently get high quality leads from Google directly
  • Automate sales follow-ups and account management with CRM software
  • Automate financial accounting and budgeting with accounting software such as Xero which integrates with your bank account and minimises manual transaction logging and checking

 

Stockpiling inventory because you believe you will increase sales

It is true that producing inventory in bulk will produce some cost savings because economies-of-scale. However, what this means that you are locking up your cash in illiquid assets and not being able to do anything else with it. After all, your inventory has a shelf life with depreciating value over time. They may expire, rust or get damaged.

Furthermore, you are paying for storage. Depending on the nature of your inventory, sterile rooms, dehumidifiers and chillers do not come cheap. Stockpiling of inventory is one of the most expensive mistakes you can make.

It is really not worthwhile to make some small savings in bulk orders and forego all other business opportunities with your cash. Protect your cash flow. Don’t stockpile on hope. Stay realistic.

 

Paying bills on time

This advice may sound odd at first, after all it’s cash out of the coffers. Shouldn’t we delay payment as long as possible?

While some companies do that, it is ultimately toxic for supplier relationships in the long run and opens up the possibility of being charged interest. Hence, it is always ideal to pay on-time, neither early or late.

Of course, the better your negotiating position, the more you should try to get better terms of payment with an extension of your payment due date.

 

Offering credit to non-creditworthy clients

Repeat after me: DUE DILIGENCE. Bear in mind that however huge or seemingly successful your clients are, they could be another Enron. Check their cash flow statements and statement of financial position. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can your client afford to pay you?
  • What is their credit rating?
  • What is their repayment history?

If you suspect that your client is probably unable to pay you, don’t drag the repayment date. Collect what they can pay and be prepared to record a bad debt expense. It’s painful, but it is better to realise small losses early than to realise huge losses later. Don’t gamble with your cashflow.

In the worst case, you might even wish to reconsider taking on the project in the first place. Yes, it looks good as clocked revenue – but revenue that you can never collect on but have to spend your resources to make the project work? That’s throwing good money after bad…

 

Neglecting your Accounts Receivable

Don’t be a loan shark, but also don’t be a charity. The longer your accounts receivable ages, the less likely you will get paid. Keep following up with your dues. The cash you don’t get back is business opportunity gone. Accept partial payments. If you don’t mind accepting a small percentage loss of the accounts receivable, you can consider factoring.

Factoring means selling your accounts receivable. You will have to pay a percentage of the accounts receivable called a factoring fee. This means of financing is popular among small businesses and it is one option you can consider to further improve your cash flow cycle.

 

Have you encountered any of these issues in your business before or have more tips on how to improve cashflow for startups? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.

Top 5 Attributes a Procurement Professional in Malaysia Should Have

Working in the Procurement Industry takes a lot of hard work and skills and despite putting in all the efforts, sometimes Procurement Professionals don’t get enough credits. Despite that being the case sometimes, people working in the procurement industries still do their job with a lot of passion.

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5 Ways To Deal With Aggressive Negotiation And Sales Tactics | ThunderQuote


Everyone has had to deal with a manipulative salesperson at some point in their careers or business journey. And probably everyone hates it. It’s the cliche of what’s bad about the business world. So how do you prevent yourself from being victim to the manipulative tactics of these salespeople as you go forward and purchase the services you need to purchase?

This Negotiation Countermeasures Guide by ThunderQuote helps you to stand your ground against salespeople whom you feel are pressing you too hard, or overstepping the boundaries.

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Ultimate Event Vendor / Event Company Checklist | ThunderQuote

Event organisation in Singapore is a complicated undertaking, requiring coordination of many different vendors and partners over a period of months (and for some large scale events, up to year).  A common worry amongst event companies or even businesses looking to organise events for publicity: what does the event timeline look like, when do you need to start preparing for event logistics or event marketing, how far in advance do you need to begin engaging with the different vendors?

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Price Guide for Commercial Renovation in SG (Office, F&B, Retail)

Planning for your up-coming renovation but unsure of the budget and cost to renovate your office, F&B or retail? Renovation costs can range from S$320 to S$1080 per sqm. The cost of renovation depends on layout complexity, size of unit, materials, flooring, plumbing or any electrical and of course before the heavy work starts, consulting fees. Here’s a rough guide for you guys to gauge the cost of your next renovation:
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Top Twelve Computer Accessories in Kuala Lumpur

When looking for computer accessories we are often at a loss as to which vendors or suppliers to explore- here’s an easy list of twelve of the most well known in Malaysia (KL) for you to choose from:

Note: If you are seeking to find computer accessories for your company, you can save time and get up to 5 quotes from trusted local computer accessories suppliers on the ThunderQuote platform for free.

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Licenses to Run Your New Café and Restaurant in Singapore

There are many food licenses and permits an owner has to secure before opening his/her own restaurant/café in Singapore. No owner would want to face legal implications from the government because of negligence over simple paperwork. Especially in Singapore where the food safety regulations are extremely strict. Some of the food licenses required for a restaurant and a café overlap each other. We will go further into detail about these licenses in this article.

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