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Top 5 Operating Expenses for Small Businesses

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April 25, 2022

Even though there are 32.5 million small businesses in the United States today, operating a business in 2022 is not easy. Rising inflation costs and year three of COVID-related hardships have created long-term and short-term challenges for business owners. According to Guidant Financial, the top two challenges for small business owners in 2022 were changing operations in response to COVID-19 (32.14%) and lack of capital/cash flow (31.57%). Good Funding recognizes these challenges that small businesses face which is why they provide access to working capital products so business owners can focus on returning to normal. While working capital can be used in any way business owners see fit, some choose to use it for maintaining operating expenses. Operating expenses can vary from industry to industry but there are some that stand out as budget busters, here is our top 5 round up of the most costly operating expenses.

What are the top 5 operating expenses?

Salaries and wages top the list of operating expenses.

According to the 2021 Paycor State of American Business Survey, 70% of total business costs include employee wages, benefits, and payroll taxes. Making labor the most expensive operating cost category for small businesses with no signs of slowing down. The pandemic brought about significant shifts in workforce culture with everything from pay increases to emphasis on additional benefits such as mental health. 34% Of Small Businesses Increased Their Employee's Pay Since The COVID-19 Pandemic. 34% Of Those Businesses Also Expanded Their Health Benefit Options, Including Mental Health Benefits.

When it comes to reducing wage costs, knowing is the first step. Look for opportunities to maximize scheduling to reduce overtime and overstaffing. If your schedule is already optimized, consider workflow automation. Ask yourself, are there any tasks that could be handled through automation? These are typically tasks that are repeatable, logic-based, and time-consuming. Lastly, remember you are not alone; labor hardships have plagued almost every industry. Talk to other small business owners and see how they are navigating the current labor market. 

Is your rent killing your operating budget?

Whether you've bought property or are renting an office space, at some point in the past three years, you may have wondered do we need an office with the uptick in remote work? And that is a fair question. Rent and utilities are huge operating expenses. In fact, 38% of those polled in a survey from upcity, downsized their office space as a result of the pandemic. For some businesses having an office, a storefront, or some type of physical space is a non-negotiable; if you find yourself in one of those categories, here are a few tips to help lower your rent and utility costs:

  • Many landlords would prefer to have a tenant than no tenant at all. See if you can renegotiate your lease. Harvard Business Review has put together a fantastic roundup of how to negotiate your leasing agreement effectively.Look for real estate in areas that offer tax incentives for small businesses.
  • Purchase energy-efficient office equipment, and switch from a landline to a cloud-based phone system.
  • If your in-office policy has recently changed, think about how much space you need. How does flex scheduling and telecommuting impact how much space is being utilized? Do you have the opportunity to downsize or rent to an additional tenant?  

Insurance keeps you and your business protected but at what cost?

Paying for business insurance is necessary no matter what kind of business you run. Insurance can keep you and your employees insulated from potential damage, theft, and accidents. However, there are multiple types of business insurance, and depending on where you live or your industry, those costs could add up quickly.

Similar to your personal insurance policy, it is important to review your business insurance once a year; any changes in your business can impact the type of policy you need. Speak to your insurance agent to understand what kind of policy you currently have and if there is an opportunity to save. Once you know your coverage, don't be afraid to shop around for the best deal. You can shop online or work with an independent broker to find the best deal. Additionally, look for options to bundle your insurance for even greater savings.

Small Business Owner and CMO ‍

Small business owners have to wear many hats, and sometimes this includes chief marketing officer as well. It was reported that, "Marketing was challenging for small businesses for a long time. However, in 2020, 15% of small businesses struggled with marketing and advertising, a seven percent increase from the previous year.”  While business owners know that marketing is required to expand your business, marketing consultants can be costly, with hourly fees ranging from $75 to $500 depending on the service. So, what is the best way to market your business without overspending?

  • Budget: Crunch the numbers and see what marketing budget makes sense for you. Marketing budgets can fluctuate wildly depending on the industry. The SBA recommends, “contact your industry trade association or read industry trade publications to see if they offer any benchmarks for setting a budget.”  
  • Plan: If you choose to DIY your marketing, the next step is to plan how to allocate your monthly budget and what you want to achieve. It is recommended to take a few different marketing approaches if you can. Don’t forget about lower cost marketing tactics like word-of-mouth referrals, social media postings, and giveaways.  
  • Measure: This is the most important part of the process, and sometimes an overlooked step. Most online platforms come with basic analytics to evaluate performance. In order to accurately measure ROI, you must be able to track your marketing efforts

Unexpected Repair uh-ohs

Whether you have money set aside or need to use working capital, there is never a good time for an unexpected repair. Depending on what needs repairing can drastically impact your cash flow and potentially your ability to keep operations running. If you are the type of business that relies heavily on the use of equipment, here are some tips to keep your equipment up and running for as long as possible

  • Training and proper equipment usage is key. Training employees on best practices can save you in the long run.
  • Keep a checklist of when preventative maintenance is due.
  • Update maintenance logs with current information on what services were performed and when. Managing machine part inventory is also key so you are not paying for items you already have or can fix yourself.  

Why are operating costs so important?

Operating expenses are important because they help improve a business's profitability. There may come a time in your journey as a small business owner where you may need a cash infusion and with costs rising across the board, now may be the time to consider a working capital product. During times like these, you can rely on Good Funding's specialists to help find you the funding assistance you need. To apply for funding today, visit us here. 


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