Tips to streamline costs and improve operations

Written by Paige Dawson Rodriguez on Monday, September 22nd, 2014

While the economy is recovering for many of us, the need to be prudent business owners is ever-present. Lately the topic of how to better manage operations, streamline costs and increase productivity has been discussed in mentoring meetings I’ve had with smaller agencies or freelancers, among client discussions, and as part of a women’s business owner group.

In this blog post, I’ll cover five of the most discussed items and provide some links for you to research as a potential fit for your small business.

  1. Payroll: We recently moved from our bookkeeper handling payroll to an outsourced solution with Payroll On A Budget*. The service is simple to use and a TREMENDOUS cost savings for us at $19.95 per payroll and then $1.25 per payment (i.e. paycheck). The fee includes all the tax filings and payments as well as the year-end W2s. This specific service is targeted for businesses with 20 or less employees and they have a sister company, Custom Payroll*, for larger needs. In comparison with others, the rates are 20-50% less than what we’ve seen with ADP or Paychex.
  2. Business Insurance: For liability, professional and workers’ insurance, we rely on the family of companies: Insureon, Business Insurance Now and TechInsurance. They specialize in small business insurance (less than 25 employees) and have been around since 1997. They proactively help us review our policies and shop for new ones every year and have saved us money several times; plus their online system makes updates and certificates easy.
  3. Project Management: As a services firm, project and time management are two of our most critical areas to strengthen and improve, always. We’ve used a number of tools over time and currently like the flexibility with Glip to build teams, invite external viewers and update via apps. Other good solutions are Asana, Basecamp, DivvyHQ and SharePoint. I’d recommend piloting a few of the applications to see what works best for the type of project management you need; most have free trials.
  4. Time Management: Again, we’ve used many time management tools—even good old-fashioned paper and calendars in work blocks (not really viable for us!). Currently, we like Toggl for tracking daily activities using its stopwatch-type feature as it allows us to quickly jump from one project to the next.  QuickBooks also has a similar feature, though it seems more cumbersome.
  5. Invoicing: There are many ways to invoice and collect revenue for your business, the right solution depends on the type, volume, detail and other nuances of your billing process. We rely on QuickBooks at the moment. Other friends we know use FreshBooks while others rely on more robust accounting platforms.

Hopefully this post provided you with a few new ideas to consider or tools to explore for your business. Certainly there are many more providers in each area than listed here, so I’d love to hear your favorites as well.

In a future post, I’ll cover some of our prioritization and productivity tips in terms of how we manage marketing services and delivery time specifically.


*Disclaimer: These companies are clients of MPD Ventures as well as providers to MPD Ventures, so we feel really good about their leadership, longevity and skills.

About Paige Dawson Rodriguez

Paige Dawson RodriguezWith expertise in marketing, business strategy and public relations, as well as ‘in the trenches’ experience as a business owner, Paige Dawson Rodriguez brings a unique blend of talent to clients. As president and founder of MPD Ventures Company, Paige works with executives and entrepreneurs throughout the country to develop key messages, marketing strategies and measurable campaigns, driven by client business goals. She has extensive experience providing counsel for professional service firms, technology companies, associations and nonprofits.