Start a Business for Next to Nothing
Starting a business is an intimidating prospect. It involves a level of commitment that few other goals require. Typically, one of the major commitments in business startups is a hefty financial commitment. However, there are ways to start a business for next to nothing. Knowing how to do so can make an intimidating project much more doable.
1. Location, Location, Location
For many brick and mortar businesses, location is essential to success. However, if your goal is to get your business off the ground as inexpensively as possible, you should strive to start your business from home to eliminate the cost of renting a location. If you need to have a professional address, you can use a virtual office for a very affordable price. If you need an office for meetings, you can do so inexpensively by renting an executive suite on occasion.
2. Professional Guidance for Free
It is important to have plenty of help from professionals as you embark on the adventure of starting your own business. You could go out and hire lawyers, accountants and business consultants to help you, or you could get their help for free. Through organizations in your area, such as a small business development center, you should be able to get help from professionals who can answer all your questions quickly and easily.
3. The Importance of a Virtual Assistant
By hiring a virtual assistant to answer phones and take care of some of the time-consuming yet necessary tasks in your business, you can also give the appearance of being a larger enterprise while using a very cost-effective form of assistance. Because virtual assistants work on contract, you have none of the typical expenses that you would come to expect with employees. You can also adjust the hours you delegate to your assistant depending on your workload.
4. Website Builders Slash the Cost of Creating a Website
Your website is critical to the success of practically any business these days. By using a website builder you can create your own website using one of the templates provided. The choices available to you allow you to customize it so that users will never know the difference. This type of website creation is a fraction of the cost of hiring professionals to create a customized website. You can even find free website builders online. In today's business world a website is one of your most important business tools, no matter what type of business you are looking to start.
5. Web Stores Require No Inventory
If sales are a part of your business, a web store is the most cost effective way to go. By creating a web store you can avoid high inventory costs associated with traditional stores. By becoming an affiliate for the products and services you wish to sell on your site, you do the selling and the company you are affiliated with takes care of delivery.
6. Putting Technology to Work for You: Free Online Tools
There are numerous different resources at your disposal when starting an online business or simply even the online portion of your traditional business. Many of these resources are completely free of charge, such as email accounts, social networking site memberships, auto-responders, payment processors, HTML editors, converters for Word to PDF and server hosting for shared files. While many of these resources do not have the speed and full capabilities of the more expensive versions, they are sufficient for many startup businesses.
7. 800 Numbers
An 800 number for your business allows you to give a more professional impression to potential clients. You can easily look like a much bigger business by offering the convenience of a toll-free number. Luckily, such numbers can be gotten online for practically nothing. Many of the online providers offer a free trial period of up to six months. Monthly fees thereafter start at less than $15.
Marketing is a very important aspect of any business. In fact, it is crucial to the very success of your company. Marketing ranges from the very basic things, such as just talking about your business, to more strategic marketing aimed at the unknown consumer. It has never been easier than it is now to find low-cost and even free ways to advertise a business. Starting a business for next to nothing means you will need to avail of all these techniques.
Take advantage of the Internet and local marketing through Google and other free listing sites. Make sure your online information is correct, as many people start their search for providers there. Utilize every social networking site that you can. They are free and are an excellent way to spread the news that you have a new business and something valuable to offer. Make sure you use other online marketing tools that just require your expertise, such as blogging or article marketing.
Word of mouth, networking, flyers placed strategically and joint venture marketing, where you work with another firm that offers something complimentary to yours, are also excellent low-cost or free ways to promote your new business. Also, don't neglect the value of direct sales.
9. Don't Compromise on Professionalism
If you want to come across as a serious business looking to grow in the marketplace, a lack of professionalism is a detriment. In every contact you have with potential clients, make sure you give the best possible impression. While you are trying to start your business on a shoestring, you don't want to appear cheap. For this reason, it is essential to have professional-looking business cards. If you are just starting out or expect to change contact information rather quickly, free business cards that you order from online suppliers are acceptable. Homemade business cards that have perforation ridges along the edges are not acceptable. You do not want to look like a fly-by-night operation.
10. Money Pitfalls to Avoid When Starting a Business
It is crucial to create a tight budget when starting a business and stick to it. Even if you have a sole proprietorship, it is important to have a trusted individual in your life who can help you weigh your decisions about where to spend money and where to save. Some of the most costly aspects of business startup can definitely be avoided with some common sense advice.
- Avoid lawyers, accountants and other professionals. Reliable free advice is easily found.
- Do not subcontract jobs that you can do for yourself, unless they take too much time away from other more lucrative tasks that must also be done.
- Do not hire full-time employees until you are sure you can afford to keep them.
- Stay away from long-term contracts that lock you into payments that continue over years. Many B2B providers will try to get you to sign leases for locations, machines, services and more in order to give you the best price. Find alternatives that are willing to provide what you need on a month-to-month basis.
Starting a business for many is a lifelong dream. For others, it is a solution to unemployment. Whatever your reasons for starting your own business, it is incredibly easy to do on a shoestring. By choosing the right kind of business, starting small and following a budget, you can build a strong business that will be bound for success.
This is a guest post by Jason Kay. Jason is a professional resume writer and owner of a home based business. He's learned many tips over the years for saving money, improving professional image, and increasing website traffic. Here are more resources to help you start a business on a shoestring: