x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Manar Al Hinai: Time is money in business, so save as much as you can

Think outside the box when setting up or running your own company.

Besides coming up with an original business idea, finding time and keeping costs at a minimum seem to be the uppermost challenges many entrepreneurs face.

Speaking from experience, I started my small fashion line business when I had just graduated from university. Fast forward three years later, with a full-time job and a writing career on my hands, I know that regardless of what business ideas they might have, and which country they are operating in, time and money are always in short supply for start-up entrepreneurs.

But nonetheless, cutting down costs and saving time are not impossible challenges, and with little adjustments to your current business routine you could achieve them. Here's how it can be done:

Plan your budget well. Be creative and resourceful even if you are under a tight budget, and you could start with the simple stuff.

Instead of printing out your start-up's brochure at a fancy printers, ask a friend with a good design sense to design it, and print it at a Xerox store, or use their home printer using your preferred paper choice. The same applies for business cards.

A friend of mine personally printed her own brochure on thick paper, then burned the edges to give it a vintage feel. The end result: it attracted clients, and she received so much praise in return.

You could also be creative on how you run your business. You could have college interns to help you deliver a project, and reward them with a certificate and a recommendation, instead of hiring full-time employees. By doing so, you would be helping members of your community as well.

In addition, you could exchange your services with your fellow entrepreneurs; sort of like a barter trade. If you are a good accountant and your friend is a graphic designer, then you could exchange services and benefit each other instead of paying suppliers.

Outsource your office personnel. You do not have to go as far as hiring a personal assistant, but numerous services can be done online on bidding websites at competitive prices, which in turn would save you a lot of time to focus on more important issues.

Nowadays everything from web designing to financial accountants can be handled out-of-home as well, whether or not it is a one-off job.

Location is key when it comes to operating your business. If you run an online business or a service, then consider the new generation of office spaces. Many business ventures cater to self-employed small business entrepreneurs. Finding a great office place in the city centre will not come cheap.

Co-working is a good option, and that is where different people operating different companies work in the same building or office. Not only will it save you money on rent, it also provides a great networking opportunity and is a good way to spread the word around your venture.

Make use of technology. Do not waste your valuable time running off to physically pay your electricity or phone bills, when you have the option to do that online.

Moreover, make use of many free online services out there to enhance your business. Use a free conference call service, available on FreeConference.com. Not only is it free, but it also provides you with add-on services such as conference recording, and sharing your meetings via the desktop-sharing option.

You could also use many other free call services out there to enhance your conference meeting, and business calls such as Skype and Tango that can be downloaded in a few seconds on mobile devices.

Other cost-saving tips: promote your business free of charge through press releases, blogs and social media. Consider going green and operate a paper-free business in which you would be doing your bank account and your environment a favour.

The key is to think outside the box. Cutting down costs using creative ways will save your business in the long run, and save that same amount for future use. But the most important thing is that sometimes opting for lesser costs will increase the time you have in your hands. And for entrepreneurs time is an asset.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and fashion designer based in Abu Dhabi