Jason Calacanis on Savings at a Start-Up

Jason Calacanis has a great list on some easy tips for start-ups to save costs.  I agree with most of the points.  In fact, we followed basically the same rules at SelectMinds in New York, and at Mondus in Istanbul.  In Istanbul the list varies a bit and it’s difficult to cut some corners.

For convenience, here’s Jason’s full list below.  The post is worth a visit since there are more good tips in the comments.

  1. Buy Macintosh computers, save money on an IT department
  2. Buy
    second monitors for everyone, they will save at least 30 minutes a day,
    which is 100 hours a year… which is at least $2,000 a year…. which
    is $6,000 over three years. A second monitor cost $300-500 depending on
    which one you get. That means you’re getting 10-20x return on your
    investment… and you’ve got a happy team member.
  3. Buy
    everyone lunch four days a week and establish a no-meetings policy.
    Going out for food or ording in takes at least 20-60 minutes more than
    walking up to the buffet and eating. If you do meetings over lunch you
    also save that time. So, 30 minutes a day across say four days a week
    is two hours a week… which is 100 hours a year. You get the idea.
  4. Buy cheap tables and expensive chairs.
    Tables are a complete rip off. We buy stainless steel restaurant tables
    that are $100 and $600 Areon chairs. Total cost per workstation? $700.
    Compare that to buying a $500-$1,500 cube/designer workstation. The
    chair is the only thing that matters… invest in it.
  5. Don’t
    buy a phone system. No one will use it. No one at Mahalo has a desk
    phone except the admin folks. Everyone else is on IRC, chat, and their
    cell phone. Everyone has a cell phone, folks would rather get calls on
    it, and 99% of communication is NOT on the phone. Savings? At least
    $500 a year per person… 50 people over three years? $75-100k
  6. Rent
    out your extra space. Many folks have extra space in their office. If
    you rent 5-10 desks for $500 each you can cut your burn $2,500 to
    $5,000 a month, or $30-60,000 a year. That’s big money.
  7. Outsource accounting and HR—such a no brainer.
  8. Don’t buy everyone Microsoft Office–it’s too much money. Put Office on three or four common computers and use Google Docs.
  9. Use Google hosted email. $50 or free per user…. how can you beat that?!?! Why screw with an exchange server!?!?
  10. Buy
    your hardest working folks computers for home. If you have folks who
    are willing to work an extra hour a day a week you should get them a
    computer for home. Once you get to three hours of work a week from home
    you’re at 150 hours a year and that’s a no brainer. Invest in equipment
    *if* the person is a workaholic.
  11. Fire people who are not workaholics. don’t love their work… come on folks, this is startup life, it’s not a game. don’t work at a startup if you’re not into it–go work at the post office or stabucks if you’re not into it you want balance in your life. For realz.
  12. Get
    an expensive, automatic espresso machine at the office. Going to
    starbucks twice a day cost $4 each time, but more importantly it costs
    20 minutes. Buy a $3-5,000 Jura industrial,
    get the good beans, and supply the coffee room with soy, low fat, etc.
    50 people making one trip a day is 20 hours of wasted time for the
    company, and $150 in coffee costs for the employees. Makes no sense.
  13. Stock the fridge with sodas—same drill as above.
  14. Allow
    folks to work off hours. Commuting sucks and is a waste of time for
    everyone. Let folks start at 6am or 11am and you’ll cut their commute
    in half (at least in LA).
  15. Go to each of your vendors
    every 6-9 months and ask for 10-30% off. If half of them say yes you’ll
    save 5-15% on fixed costs. People will give you a discount if they
    think they are going to lose the business.
  16. Don’t waste money on recruiters. Get inside of linkedin and Facebook and start looking for people–it works better anyway.
  17. Really
    think about if you need that $15,000 a month PR firm. Perhaps you can
    get a PR consultant to work on 2-3 projects a year for $10-15k each and
    save 75%. More PR firms are wasted half the year while you build up
    your product anyway.
  18. Outsource
    to middle America: There are tons of brilliant people living between
    San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York who don’t live in a $4,000 one
    bedroom apartment and pay $8 to dry clean a shirt–hire them!

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