7 Ways Your Small Business Can Stretch Its Budget — and Boost Its Bottom Line

For any small business — and especially upstarts and/or SMBs trying to reach profitability during tough economic times — stretching every dollar can be critical to achieving long-term sustainability and success. And of course, anytime a business of any size can cut down on expenses, it can help boost the bottom line.

To help your small business cut its costs and ultimately elevate its profitability, consider these seven tactics that can be effective at eliminating or reducing a range of business expenses:

  1. When possible, dive into DIY — If a company’s owners and/or employees have the time and skills to tackle them, a variety of tasks businesses often pay for can instead be performed in-house — especially with a bit of expert guidance. Further, in today’s digitally driven world, such guidance can often be easily leveraged at any time online.
    For example, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website, gov, is home to a wealth of free resources related to starting a business, business planning, business management and business growth. Many of these resources can help small businesses tackle an array of otherwise-expensive undertakings themselves. Another great website, coursera.org, provides thousands of free-of-charge courses led by professional educators (including college professors) and corporate-world veterans, enabling business owners to learn vital skills that they might otherwise have to pay someone else to deliver. And docracy.com is a great source for a range of run-of-the-mill legal documents regularly needed by small businesses, such as those often needed when hiring new staff members, working with independent contractors, or renting/leasing office or retail space.
  1. Outsource … when it makes sense — For many small businesses, employees — and the salaries, office-space costs, insurance premiums, etc. that come with them — account for the biggest expenses the companies face. Of course, workers are often the lifeblood of a business, and having the right employees on hand is essential to getting the job done well and in a timely manner. But by carefully and strategically keeping full-time staff to a minimum and outsourcing the appropriate tasks to independent contractors, big savings can be realized.
  1. Negotiate better vendor prices — Often, the price a business has been paying for a product or service isn’t necessarily set in stone. Especially if there’s healthy competition out there and a vendor stands to forfeit a lot of income by losing an account, prices can be up for negotiation. And by getting even slight cost cuts on expenses ranging from internet and phone service to office supplies and equipment rentals, a business can lower its operating costs by hundreds of dollars a month … or more. Further, it costs nothing to try to negotiate a lower price, and the worst a vendor can say is no.
  1. Refinance and/or consolidate any high-interest loans — It’s commonplace for owners of new businesses to have to take out loans to get their operations up and running. And even with interest rates on the rise, it can be well worth the effort needed to examine the current rates available for refinancing, as even slight rate reductions can deliver serious savings over time. In addition, when borrowed money is accruing high amounts of interest via numerous loans, consolidating these loans can reduce interest fees and simplify monthly payments.
  1. Embrace hybrid work styles — Especially for office workers and other desk workers, most day-to-day tasks on the job can be completed from just about anywhere with a computer, a phone and an internet connection. And when meetings and discussions among staff members are needed, modern videoconferencing and instant messaging software such as Zoom and Skype can go a long way toward bridging long distances and closing communications gaps. As a result, moving toward hybrid work and work-from-home scenarios can greatly reduce the need for office space — and the high costs it can carry — without resulting in any substantial (or even noticeable) performance drop-offs.
  1. Eliminate unnecessary meetings — Speaking of meetings, many businesses are guilty of simply having too many of them. And forcing workers to attend regular unneeded meetings is a waste of time and money (not to mention a potential drag on employee morale). Especially when standing meetings are a common practice, revisiting the need for and/or frequency of them and eliminating unnecessary ones can bring big savings in wages. It can also boost productivity by allowing everyone who would have been involved in a canceled meeting to instead stay on task. If the driving purpose of a meeting can be just as easily addressed via an email, it’s likely best for all involved just to skip the meeting. Otherwise, when a meeting is needed, keeping the required attendance to just the vital players (rather than also including those who might be only marginally involved in the discussion at hand) can help keep costs down and productivity high.
  1. Look for bartering opportunities — Especially for businesses that provide products and/or services that can be of considerable value to other businesses, engaging in bartering arrangements can be a win-win scenario for all involved. It can also be particularly beneficial for smaller and/or newer businesses facing cash-flow challenges. Such ours-for-yours arrangements can result in both businesses gaining the critical assets they need to survive and grow, all at near-wholesale rates, with each business delivering payment via something they typically have in abundant supply.

Proudly serving South Carolina since 1933, Arthur State Bank offers accounts and services to meet a variety of financial needs for small businesses. To help you achieve all of your business’s financial goals, the bank offers in-person service as well as a range of convenient digital solutions. To learn how Arthur State Bank can help with small-business banking needs ranging from business checking and business lending to payment solutions, certificates of deposit, overdraft protection and more, visit arthurstatebank.com/business.

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Man doing his banking online

AnnualCreditReport.com is the only source for free credit reports authorized by the federal government. Every 12 months, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each agency.

Your credit report has your credit history for all of your credit accounts as well as any credit inquiries and public record court information such as collections. In addition, the report provides personally identifiable information such as your name, address, and employment.

Be sure to carefully review all three reports to identify any problem areas that you may need to clean up prior to applying for a mortgage. If there is any incorrect information, follow the reporting agency’s rules to correct it or add a notation to the report to explain the situation.

Your FICO Score is a score combines data from several areas include payment history, the amount owed, length of credit history, new accounts. Many lenders use this score as a guide. This score is not provided as part of the free annual credit report.

Learn more about how your credit score impacts your ability to secure a loan.


Couple looking over finances

Primary considerations for setting your housing budget require an assessment of your income, debt and current savings for the down payment on the home. The following are generally recommended guidelines; however, you should meet with an Arthur State Bank lender to get personalized mortgage information.


Couple meeting with lender

The pre-qualification/pre-approval letter is included with any offer you make on a house to inform the seller that you have met with a mortgage lender and you are prepared to make an offer. The letter states that based on certain assumptions, the bank is prepared to lend you up to a specified amount of money for a home mortgage.

When choosing a loan officer, we recommend going local to work with someone who understands your community’s real estate market. This blog on first-time home purchases includes questions to ask your lender that may be helpful when preparing for your meeting.

Helpful Resources:


Realtor shaking hands with a client

When a house is sold, the seller typically pays real estate commission to both the listing agent and the selling agent. It is extremely beneficial for the buyer to use their own real estate agent. Loan officers can often recommend selling agents in the area; ask your officer about realtor referrals when discussing your loan.

A good realtor will know the local market and can help you find an ideal home based on your budget, location and desired features. During your search, understand that you will most likely need to compromise on some items, so it’s important to identify your critical needs versus your wants.


Couple searching online for a home

Additionally, when you start with the house search and work backwards, homes can often go off the market while you’re completing steps 1-4. While browsing homes immediately can be tempting, we recommend following these steps in order so that, once you find your dream home, you’ll be well-positioned to take action immediately.

When you find the home you want and you think you are ready to put an offer on it, you will want to make sure you have all the information you need to make a solid offer.

  • Evaluate the neighborhood.
  • Drive by the house at different times of the day.
  • Examine how other houses in the neighborhood are maintained.
  • Consider any potential traffic or other disruptive noise.
  • Is there ample parking for you and visitors?
  • Read the details in any Homeowner Association agreements (HOA fees and rules).

Make sure to do a preliminary check of house details:

  • Check the water:
  • Does it have good pressure?
  • How long does it take to get the water hot?
  • Is it well water or city water?
  • Turn light switches on and off.
  • Open and close doors and windows to make sure they work properly.
  • Review previous utility bill expenses.
  • Consider the property tax bill.


Family meeting with realtor at new house

When writing an offer contract, be sure to pay attention to all of the details.

Offer Price:

Your agent should do a market analysis that pulls data on recently sold comparable houses. The best comparisons will come from the same neighborhood.

If you are asking for the seller to pay some of the closing costs, remember that this cost plus the sales commission determines the net amount you are offering the seller for the house.

Work with your agent on your negotiation strategy. There are many things to consider, such as how badly you want this particular house, whether it is a buyer’s or seller’s market and an assessment of the seller’s motivation to get the property sold.

There isn’t one best strategy.

Be sure to document in writing everything you want included with the house, such as appliances, etc. Your agent should guide you through the contract step-by-step.


  • Home inspection.
  • Mortgage.
  • Final walk through (24 hours prior to closing).

Proposed closing date. Typically, this is 30-45 days from an accepted offer.

A good-faith deposit is required for the offer. This is typically between 1-10% of the purchase price of the house. The deposit is kept in escrow until closing and the money is applied to the purchase price of the house at closing. If the house does not close due to one of the contingency clauses, the buyer receives their money back. However, if the buyer decides not to close on the property, the seller may get the deposit money.

Attach your pre-approval letter to the offer.


Two people in professional meeting

The clock starts ticking for everything documented in the contract, including mortgage application, inspections and closing date.


Woman advising other woman on mortgage application

You will need to decide which mortgage to select prior to the application.

Plan for the following potential fees:

  • Application fee (many banks and mortgage companies charge an application fee; however, there is not an application fee at Arthur State Bank).
  • Credit check.
  • Appraisal (may be paid at closing).
  • Loan origination fee (paid at closing).

Once you have approval for your loan, make sure you don’t change anything that will impact the status of your mortgage. Banks do a final check on credit and jobs just prior to closing, so now is not the time to change jobs or make another purchase on credit such as a car or furniture.


Home inspector going over findings with home owner

Depending on the size of the house, an inspection can cost on average between $300 to $1000.

Many real estate contracts specify how problems uncovered in the inspection will be resolved, up to a certain dollar amount. Should necessary repairs exceed that amount, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract without penalty and receive their deposit money back. Another option is for the buyer and seller to renegotiate who will pay for additional repairs.


Woman happily holding keys to her new home
  • Homeowner’s insurance is required by the lender prior to closing on the loan.
  • Turn on utilities in your name, effective the closing date.
  • Change your address with the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Make moving arrangements.

Three days prior to closing:

  • You should receive your final Closing Disclosure from the closing agency. The final Closing Disclosure shows a column for the seller and a column for the buyer. All closing charges and credits for both the seller and the buyer are documented in the closing statement.
  • Review the closing statement for accuracy prior to coming to closing.
  • The final amount in the buyer’s column shows you the amount of money you need to pay at closing.

The closing office will provide specific payment instructions. Closing funds have become recent targets for cybercriminals. If you are asked to use a wire transfer, call the office and ask to speak to someone you have been working with to double-check the instructions.

Closing day:

In South Carolina, the closing will usually take place at the attorney’s office. Everyone signing for the mortgage must be present to sign the closing paperwork. Make sure you bring the following:

  • Cashier’s check or proof of payment for wire transfer.
  • Driver’s license.
  • Checkbook, just in case there are any additional items that were not on the closing statement.

Be sure to understand this information:

  • How and when you will pay:
  • Your mortgage.
  • Your property taxes.
  • Your homeowner’s insurance.
  • Any HOA dues.
  • Who to call with any questions.

The best practice is to go through the homebuyer’s roadmap in this sequence. However, if you jumped ahead early in your journey, just circle back to address the steps you missed.

Arthur State Bank’s loan officers are closely tapped into local real estate markets and experts at helping clients get what they need on terms that work for them. We also offer mortgage specials for first-time homebuyers.

To start planning your journey to your dream home, try out our mortgage calculator. If you’re ready to talk to a loan officer, contact Arthur State Bank to request personalized mortgage information today. Don’t forget to ask about our first-time homebuyer offer.