Starting and operating a small or medium-sized business is a costly venture. To maximize profit, you need to keep your expenses as low as possible. At the same time, you need to function properly as a business, so there is always a delicate balance.

Here are some tips that have been proven effective for businesses looking to keep their costs down:

Use interns. You can get the perks of having full time staff without paying salaries. An internship is a symbiotic relationship where you can use the talent of students while they get work experience. It works well for both parties involved. Most universities have internship programs available for small-businesses to help place their students.

Save on software. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on software. These days using webbased applications can provide you with all the tools you need to run your business, and most of them are either free or come with low monthly fee’s.

Staff strategically. When deciding how many people you can employ, consider all of your obligations as an employer including health insurance and taxes. Think about areas where you would be just as successful with freelancers as with full time employees.

Save on utility bills. Conserve energy by turning off lights you don’t need, using energyefficient light bulbs, and insulating windows to save on your electricity bill. The upfront cost may seem high, but you will end up saving.

Minimize waste. Track the items you use, sell, and waste. Monitoring your inventory can help you to change your purchasing habits to benefit the business.

Barter. Work with other small and medium-sized businesses to reduce costs. Sometimes you can trade goods and services that would ordinarily cost you capital. Bartering is a way of support other businesses and reducing your own expenditures.

Travel Expenses. Meetings are always important and sometimes vital to close deals that can make your business successful. However travel expenses can add-up quickly, especially for a business on a tight budget. Save your travel expenses for high-value targets and take advantage of web-meetings and conference calls as much as possible, particularly for sales opportunities that haven’t been vetted properly. In the end you’ll save money and time.