1) Utilize Google Docs

A lot of organizations use Word or another word processing software, but they are a thing of the past. New versions cost hundreds of dollars per license, and are often too complicated for what you are using it for: sharing notes, writing contracts, producing marketing copy, etc. 

Save all that money and time spent installing / upgrading onto your computers, and jump over to Google Docs - where everything you used to do with Word can be done right in your browser, for free! You can even collaborate in real time with multiple users, across multiple computers, and setup sharing permissions to specific people within your company. 

2) Use Social Media To Your Advantage

Sure, you have a Facebook, and maybe even a Twitter account, but are you really using it to its full advantage? Most of your customers on at least one of them, so that is a great place to connect with them. 

Take some time and experiment with Facebook advertising. It's a lot cheaper than most conventional methods of advertising, and you can target specific groups of people very well. Want just females below the age of 30? You can do that, and that functionality might just net you a more cost effective advertising channel.

3) Look Into a Web-Based Point of Sale

Most retailers don't need complicated POS systems, yet they still pay for them (initially, and ongoing). A new breed of Point of Sale software that runs inside your browser, just like Google Docs, not only can save you a great deal of time and money, but open you up to new technologies.

Modern solutions like ZingCheckout - which has a free version of their web based pos you can try - incorporates social media into the mix as well. Their digital receipts that are sent via email or text message can connect the customer to their favorite social network, where they can then share your business to all their friends. Then, if they share, a link is added that goes back to a listing on the web that you can control. It becomes a tool to promote your business, again, for free.

4) Crowdsource Your Design Work

While you're always under pressure to one-up the competition, don't forget to analyze your expenditures on design, as they can add up quickly. (If you have a designer you trust, skip over this part, as its better to keep good relationships!)

Next time you are looking to design a new storefront or ad, try a service like 99 Designs, which is a crowdsourcing site that has many designers vie for your design work. You post the description of what you want designed, play a flat fee (as low as $95), and a number of designers will start submitting designs. You get to select which one you like from the batch, and only pay for what you like.

5) Start a Blog

I know, this sounds like too much work, right? Well, it is, but a blog has side benefits if used correctly. The easiest customer to market to is the customer you already have, so be sure to keep them updated!

And now-a-days, there are a lot of places to easily setup and manage a blog. Tumbler is a rapidly growing blog platform you can get started with very quickly. Start with simple updates and eventually branch into more detailed posts. The time spent building your brand on the web will be paid back in a big way, as long as you make sure it's genuine!