Whether you are an entrepreneur who’s just starting out or a seasoned small business owner, you probably have one thing in common. Chances are you want to cut the costs of doing business. In addition to increasing profits, this allows you to reinvest in your own success. There are a number of creative ways that entrepreneurs can cut their costs. Here are ten strategies that will help you slash expenses quickly and efficiently.

Turning off computers
Energy costs can be a major line item each month. A simple way to save on electricity is to turn off computers or laptops when you’re going to be away from your desk for an extended period of time. If you know you’re in meetings for several hours or leaving the office for the day, why not turn off your computer? You can also consider an automatic device that turns of items at given times of the day, such as overnight. Doing so will save money and prolong the life of your computers and laptops. It’s a win-win for cost conscious companies.

Switching out light bulbs
Most of us have made the switch from traditional incandescent light bulbs at home to help save on energy costs, but what about at work? CFLs may have a higher upfront cost than incandescent bulbs, but the cost savings in the long-term is worth it. They last up to ten times as long and use 2/3 less energy than traditional light bulbs.

Automatic hand dryers
Do you find that your business goes through paper towels like they’re going out of style? Why not make the switch to automatic hand dryers? They also have a higher upfront cost, but they significantly cut down on the cost of paper goods. Newer automatic hand dryers are also energy efficient, using less electricity than older models.

Equipment restoration
If your business uses certain electronic or manufacturing equipment to develop products, you should consider equipment restoration to help save money. Perhaps some of your machines have stopped working entirely due to electrical failure or certain functions no longer work? Look into companies that can help get your machines up and running again. The cost will most likely be significantly lower than replacing the machines with new equipment.

Download free software
If you’re in the market for a new software program, there are numerous free resources available to budget-conscious business owners. If your software costs are getting out of control, consider looking at free or open source software. Many companies offer free trials of their programs, or entirely free options for the life of the software. So do your research, and look into alternatives to costly programs. For example, Open Office is a good possibility if you’re considering purchasing Microsoft office.

Multiple bids
If you are hiring a vendor for a particular project or working with a consulting service, it’s a good idea to get multiple bids. Don’t just hire the first company you come across because chances are you may be able to get a better deal by shopping around. A good rule of thumb is to obtain at least three bids for projects before you make a final decision. You don’t necessarily have to go with the lowest bidder, but always get quotes from vendors to compare!

If you’re on a shoestring budget, look into outsourcing some of your business. Sites like Elance and Guru are good places to find freelance web designers, writers, and programmers. Often, working with an independent consultant is less expensive than hiring a full-time employee or working with a firm.

Go virtual or share space
A smart way that small businesses are cutting costs is by taking their operations virtual. If you can work out a situation where employees telecommute, then you don’t need to worry about the high cost of renting office space. If full-time telecommuting is not an option for your business, look into shared space office space. A communal office space can be much less costly than individual offices.

Google Voice
Google offers a number of free or low-cost tools for businesses. Google Voice allows you to quickly and easily set up a business phone line and voice mail without the high cost of working with a telecommunications company to get started. If saving money on communication costs is a priority for your business, try out Google Voice.

Reuse and recycle
This one probably goes without saying, but it is worth mentioning. Always make sure you reuse your scrap paper, print on both sides of the page whenever possible, and avoid printing out every email message you receive. It’s also a good idea to recycle paper and toner cartridges. Some large office supply companies offer special discounts on certain products for businesses that take advantage of their recycling programs.

There are a number of strategies for cutting costs for your business. While some strategies such as switching out old light bulbs carry a higher upfront cost, they are great money savers over the long-term. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, saving money for your small business should be a top priority.

About the author: Carl Petoskey’s vast knowledge in the business industry stems from his 15 years writing and working for various small businesses. When he’s not writing, you can find him covering LWG Consulting or other companies focused on bettering small business owners.