Money-saving tips for small businesses and sole traders

young male tradie smiling next to his door and car full of tradie tools

Nina Hendy

Posted October 17, 2022

Running a small business is no mean feat. Here are some ways for small business owners and sole traders to trim expenses and save money.

From grants and energy to fuel savings and small business insurance, here are some money-saving tips to consider help you tighten the belt, so you can get on with doing what you do best – running your small business.

Small business grants

There are many small business grants and programs on offer around the country, so it’s worth checking out what’s available in your state or business category.

Start-up business grants, for example, can provide businesses with the capital to realise a business idea. Or, if you’re already running a business and need some help, there could be a grant available for you too.

Some government grants for small businesses include The Entrepreneur’s Program, which will funnel up to $1 million into small businesses to help them innovate and grow.

The Austrade Landing Pad grant helps with future growth, while the Accelerating Commercialisation grant provides businesses in up to $1 million in funding to commercialise a product, process or service.

Look at what’s available in your local area. This government tool has more than 600 grants listed right now, for example.


young woman looking at her laptop screen

Free apps and tools can help your business run smoother. Image: Getty


Free business apps and tools

There’s an app for almost everything that is useful for every type of small business these days. Communicating. Collating expenses. Comparing prices. Organising your workload. So, spend the time considering which elements of running your business could be improved, and have a look around online for either a desktop or mobile solution to make things run smoother. Some of the best around include Slack, Hubspot, Xero and MYOB for cloud accounting and collating receipts, and arevo for saving on petrol.

Fuel savings

Fuel prices are trending upwards again as the reduction in fuel excise comes to a close. It’s a difficult situation for businesses in some industry sectors, such as transport, tradies, professional service providers who regularly visit their customers or transport companies.

But with a bit of planning and know-how, you can save by tracking down the cheapest fuel near you easily. If you plan your trips, you can fill up when you’re passing the cheapest fuel around. To do this, check out arevo, which will put you in the driver’s seat when it comes to finding cheap fuel and realising fuel savings. Best of all, it’s free to download.


man teaching younger woman in a coffee shop

LED lights can help save money on energy bills. Image: Getty


Energy savings

If you have been with the same electricity provider for years, it’s worth taking a moment to shop around for a better deal. After all, energy providers are often updating their prices and products as new competition hits the market, especially from the new generation of 100% carbon neutral energy providers.

Replacing your light bulbs can also improve your overall power bill. If you’re still utilising old halogen light bulbs, it’s a good time to replace your bulbs to LED light bulbs. While the initial purchase price is higher, these are among the most energy efficient globs on the market. The switch can save households an average $102 in annual running costs, according to Energy Rating.

Smart lighting, that allows you to group lights into smaller networks (so you can turn off the storeroom lights out the back while you’re serving customers, for example) might also be worth considering. Sensor lights that automatically switch off when not in use may also help you save on energy consumption.

Free networking and mentoring opportunities

Networking is a great way to build organic word of mouth opportunities for your business. A simple search online, or checking out platforms such as EventBrite, can uncover a range of events that could work for you.

Mentoring others or being a mentee can also help bolster your business, regardless of how successful you are. Searching LinkedIn can be a great way to find a mentor – pick someone in your industry experience who you perhaps have admired, and reach out. Be available for online catch-ups, which can help make the commitment more achievable for those busy in business.


young male florist looking at his tablet and smiling

Going paperless can help cut down costs. Image: Getty


Free education opportunities

There’s never been a better time to access free learning opportunities, with the pandemic prompting education providers to offer free micro-credentials online.  Brands have also stepped in and are offering a range of educational opportunities, such as the free courses via Hubspot Academy and Seek.

The Victorian Government has also partnered with key industry groups and education providers to launch a new website offering free courses, called Upskill My Business.

Going paperless 

Businesses can generate a lot of paperwork, and creating, storing and disseminating that paperwork can cost a lot of money. So, taking steps to cut the amount of paper from your business can help strip costs out of your business.

In many areas of your business, it’s now possible to get rid of paper entirely. Digital documents are simpler to store, more portable than paper, and easier to search and also easier to send. A number of businesses are utilising apps in a bid to reduce paper, such as scanning apps, receipt banks for invoicing, document delivery and e-signature tools.

Start by removing paper from one area of the business first, then move on to other areas of the business.


woman smiling in a colourful dress in front of a wall full of handmade earrings

RACV Small Business Insurance covers many types of small businesses. Image: Getty


Small business insurance 

Sometimes, things don’t go smoothly for small business owners. Some of the unexpected setbacks could include having a few tools stolen if you’re a tradie, a bingle in the work ute on the way to a job, having your work mobile phone stolen, a car accident in the work car on the way to seeing clients or even a broken coffee machine at your cafe or restaurant. Building materials are in-demand with opportunistic thieves, too.

When things go wrong in business, it can be expensive and set your business back. Mitigating these risks by making sure you’ve got the right small business insurance policy in place is very important. RACV Business Insurance provides cover for different industries to help protect businesses from financial loss, with insurance available for tradies, professionals and consultants, retailers, restaurants and cafes, IT professionals and domestic service professionals, such as cleaners.

Selling old equipment

Second-hand equipment has value in the market, so make sure you sell what you can as you make upgrades in your business, to put back into your budget. Even a small sum on each item can add up over time.

Check out online marketplaces to assess the value of the item, and then take some good quality photos for your listing. Also, don’t forget to consider auction houses. Of course, if it’s office computers or mobile phones you’re selling, be sure to have your data wiped to avoid a data breach.

Find out how to protect your business against the unexpected.
Discover RACV Business Insurance →

The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Australia Ltd, ABN 11 000 016 722, AFS Licence No. 227681.