With recession fears increasing day by day, it won’t be long before companies start looking for new ways to save money. Economic downturns can be make-or-break situations for plenty of businesses. And, costs are a big factor in who makes it out intact.

Don’t wait until the market forces you to slash your budget. By then, it might very well be too late. The best cost-saving measures are those that can be implemented in good times and bad. If you don’t want to make severe cuts when bad times come, then make your expense sheet sustainable today.

Strategies to Save Money

Cutting costs will look different from business to business. But, there are a few places that can serve as valuable jumping-off points. If you’re looking to save money no matter what the market looks like, here’s what to do first:

  1. Rethink your marketing.

When a recession hits, the marketing budget is often one of the first to go. From Q1 2008 to Q1 2009, ad spending plummeted more than 10% — in just the span of one year. Marketing is an invaluable tool for reaching customers in tough times, but its ROI is rarely clear enough to justify boosting it in a downturn.

Instead, think about ways you can lower marketing costs without losing your market share. Try ad campaigns that focus on user-generated content — Starbucks’ White Cup Contest generated millions in free advertising for the company. Have employees share their perspective through blog posts for your content marketing. Homegrown marketing solutions can ease your budget without diminishing your influence.

  1. Automate your workflow.

How much time does your company waste on menial tasks that do little to actually generate revenue? The answer is often frightening, and automated workflow can be a good solution for the problem.

Different platforms can offer different services like automatic email attachment downloading or calendar syncing, simple things that nevertheless take up time. Some services, like Mixmax’s workflow automation tools, provide an all-encompassing way to save time by automating multiple aspects of your workflow on one platform. By eliminating the small stuff, workflow automation lets your employees focus on income generation above all else.

  1. Outsource the right way.

Outsourcing is often a go-to for anyone looking to cut costs — research from Deloitte shows that 59% of businesses that outsource do so for budgetary reasons.

Outsourcing isn’t a catchall solution, though. Companies should only be outsourcing business operations that don’t need to be done in close conjunction with other teams, like some types of customer service or IT. Additionally, outsourcing can also mean hiring freelance individuals or teams to work on one-off projects that don’t demand a full-time hire. Assess different parts of your business before deciding which might be better left to someone else.

  1. Develop a strong internship program.

Young people are hungrier than ever to get experience in the fields they’re interested in, and internships can be mutually beneficial. Interns can help cover some of the smaller tasks you’d rather your senior employees not focus on.

If you come across a really great intern at your business, it can save significant amounts of money to make him or her a full-time employee rather than invest in a search process. A good internship program is a great way to consistently bring new talent to your office while training and nurturing it as well.

  1. Embrace the digital age to save money.

As advanced as business technology has become, plenty of companies still lag behind the times. Digital communication can save businesses money across the board, but strikingly few businesses have fallen in step.

Video conferencing, for example, can save big money on travel expenses and conference room rentals. Telecommuting can also save money on commuting expenses and even make workers more productive as well — American Express employees working from home produced 43% more business opportunities than those who worked in offices. Digital communication doesn’t just save money; it can make money as well.

Make Financial Changes in Good Times

There’s no perfect way to cut business costs across the board, but it’s always better to rein things in during the good times. Waiting until disaster strikes could make every aspect of budgeting more difficult — adopt strategies that work in every economy.