Building the Business of Your Dreams on a Shoestring Budget
Do you dream of starting your own business but are worried you have not got enough cash to get started?
You might want to think again because you do not need a wealthy family member to help you or take out a loan you really cannot afford. If you are bootstrapped for cash and do not have a lot of resources, it is still possible to launch a business and take it far.
Whether you want to start an internet company, become a freelance writer, or launch a consulting firm, the following tips will help you stretch what budget you have and get your business off the ground.
Why you need a business plan
It is very tempting to try to wing it and skip the planning stage.
A business plan, however, is fundamental to how you start, grow, and develop your business. There are some very valid reasons why you need a business plan.
- It will help steer your business in the right direction. A good business plan guides you through each stage and you can use it to think through and detail all the key elements.
- It is easier than you think. It is not a one-time document but should be something you work on.
- It can help you reach business milestones. Think out your business plan and you will be able to step back and think objectively about key elements of the business.
- It can help you get funding. Not only that. With a good business plan in place, you are more likely to bring new business partners on board.
- There is no wrong way to write one. Pick a format that works for you. There are plenty to choose from online.
When you are just starting out, do not invest too much upfront if you do not have to. Look for ways to keep your overheads, inventory, and labor expenses low. Make every dollar you spend count.
Always ask yourself this particularly important question before you part with any cash, “Will this purchase help me acquire new customers and contribute to my bottom line?” If the answer is no you should seriously consider skipping it.
Before you start out, test your idea to make sure there is a market for it. See if you can create a focus group of your target audience and ask them what their needs and pain points are. There are also online survey tools you can take advantage of. SurveyMonkey is a good example.
Work out of your house
One of the biggest expenses for a new business owner is leasing workspace. You are going to save a lot of money upfront if you find a way to bypass such a large expense. The answer is staring right at you. Launch your business from your home and work out of your house.
It is the perfect answer if your business is mostly online. If you work from home it is easier, you can conduct your business online, have virtual meetings, and check-in with customers and other employees. The money you save on renting a workspace helps you reach your break-even point much quicker.
There are even benefits if your business is not an internet start-up. However, you should consider having a separate entrance for your office. It is more professional and will keep your home and work life separate.
Leverage Your Personal and Professional Networks
When you are just starting out, your marketing budget is going to be limited. Time for you to leverage your personal and professional networks and get the word out that you have started a new business.
Try to be creative. Make use of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Reach out to any of your contacts and see if they might be interested in pre-ordering your products. Reaching out in this way also provides some valuable feedback relating to pricing and allows you to assess demand.
There are some highly effective ways you can score media coverage. Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is one great example. Sign up and you will be able to connect with journalists, reporters, and bloggers.
Another option is to become a blogger yourself. Blogging can be a powerful tool and will help generate valuable exposure for your company. A study by HubSpot found that businesses that had a blog were able to generate 126% more leads than businesses that did not have one.
Email marketing can also be an effective way to promote a particular service or product. Collect prospect’s email addresses and you will be able to nurture them by sharing valuable content.
Use your own equipment
You may already own some of the items you need to start your new business. Convert them from personal to business assets and they may be tax-deductible. This applies to your smartphone, computer, tablet, and anything else you are going to use regularly for your business.
Purchase products through a wholesaler
When you need to buy items for your business, look for a vendor that helps new businesses get started. A bonus would be if they draft a budget plan with you. To find the right kind of vendor, visit trade shows, or approach a wholesaler or distributor that meets your needs.
The smart thing is to do some research before you commit yourself to any orders. Ask for names and phone numbers of recent customers and give them a call to check out their experiences.
If you must buy equipment, do not be tempted to always buy new ones. Businesses go under all the time and you can get almost anything you need, from office furniture to manufacturing equipment, second hand.
Take Advantage of Free Websites and Social Media for Advertising
There are lots of freebies to take advantage of when it comes to advertising your business. It has become common practice for new business owners to build and maintain their own websites. Free web-building tools are ten-a-penny, but the most popular is WordPress.
Extend the reach of your website by writing a blog, using Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels. Social media has many advantages if you choose it to market your business. One of the most significant is that it allows you to reach a much larger audience. Millions of people use social media platforms, which makes it a great opportunity to reach a large pool of people who might be interested in your services or products.
Social media is one of the few marketing strategies that allow you to connect directly with your target audience. It is easy to see who is interested in what your business has to offer because they are the ones following your social media account.
You can post organic content for free, which opens countless opportunities for you to connect with leads at no cost to you. Post as much content as you want, whether it’s photos, videos, infomercials, or how-to articles, and put your brand out there in front of people.
Use Low-Cost Subscription Services
You do not need to worry about building a team of IT experts to help your business as Google and Amazon offer all the application storage and computing power you will ever need. Hiring a team of IT gurus can be an expensive undertaking.
There is also the cost of computer servers and complex applications you would have to add to the equation. Low-cost subscription software and cloud computing are expenses you must pay every month, and they can be scaled to match your needs and the size of your business.
Hire a virtual assistant to lighten the load
There is a way you can skip many new business expenses. Use remote contract services and you will save on payroll, employee benefits, and office equipment. There are also thousands of low-cost freelancers only happy to work for you.
A virtual assistant, for example, can provide the targeted expertise you are looking for. You also benefit from a certain amount of flexibility because you can increase and decrease resources and you learn what your business needs in the way of human resources.
Now that you have a few useful tips to help you get started, there is no time like the present. Do something you love at a cost you can afford. Do not let anything stand in your way.
This article was written by Ian Carroll of Digital Funnel. Ian recently set up a Marketing Agency and is a firm believer in people following their dreams to set-up a business.