For many potential entrepreneurs eager to start their own business, there are usually at least three reasons they cannot possibly do so right now. And at the top of that list is often the perceived cost of starting that new business—which they can’t possibly afford.
While it’s certainly true that every new business comes with some level of expenses, you don’t actually need a million dollars from the friendly neighborhood venture capitalist to build your own business. According to a survey by global freelancing platform, PeoplePerHour, 80% of entrepreneurs surveyed started their business with less than £4,000 ($5,200).
A very important step when drafting your list of startup costs is determining which items are necessary parts of your fledgling company—and which you can do without. By starting small and thinking outside the box, a savings-savvy entrepreneur can make his or her dream business an affordable reality.
1. Skip the Traditional Office
Fortunately for many just starting out, one of the most expensive items on the list of business needs is also one of the most flexible: office space. Before you run out and spend $30 a square foot or more on commercial office space, you should consider if you really need it at all.
Regardless of any fanciful dreams of a penthouse suite in the posh business district, the truth is your average new business simply may not benefit from renting a large space. Depending on the size and nature of your new venture, it can likely be run out of your home for at least the first few months, if not significantly longer.
Additionally, with a wide variety of ways to communicate and share files remotely, you may even be able to forgo the pricey rented offices indefinitely. A recent Gallup survey shows approximately 43% of U.S. workers spent at least some portion of their time working remotely, and the trend is gaining traction around the globe.
Of course, the solitary life isn’t right for everyone. If you’re tired of staring at your own four walls, give a shared or temporary office a try. Sites like LiquidSpace and ShareDeskcan help you find a new workspace to kick your creative juices into action.
2. Go Developer-Less
In today’s modern click-click-buy world, your business is hardly a business if it doesn’t have a web presence. That’s particularly true for your brand-new business, which lacks an established customer or client base.
Before blanching at the idea of potentially spending hundreds for a developer to put together your page—there’s a platform for that. Jimdo users can choose from dozens of clean, professional templates to build a complete website from start to finish, including incorporating a blog and creating an online store, without ever touching a single line of code.
What’s more, Jimdo’s free package includes everything you need to build a clean, professional-looking website, with the chance to upgrade and add your own professional domain. In fact, Jimdo’s been named the best free website builder platform due to its easy interface that welcomes non-programmer business owners.
3. Wear Many Hats
Another important part of evaluating your real business needs is to take a hard look at potential employees. Although the goal may be to become a 30-store chain or million-unit sales success, you aren’t going to need a full staff of 100 employees to start; in fact, you may need to start with, well, none.
Not only do employees come with wages, but, in many countries, they also come with taxes, insurance, and a huge variety of other costs, which can quickly add up to a very pricey professional. Instead, handle what you can yourself while you’re starting out. This can include engaging in some sweat equity as your own flyer distributor, or DIY by building your own light box for killer product photos.
In the case you absolutely can’t handle something yourself—such as designing an eye-catching brand logo for your new company—you should contract instead of hire on. Freelancers and other contractors provide all the benefits of experienced professionals, without the added fees associated with a permanent employee.
4. Find Rewards Where You Can
While saving on the big-ticket items is good, a lot of small savings can also add up over time, so look for them where you can. Some methods, like using an Office Depot promo code to save on paper and ink, will require regular effort, but the era of digital coupons and sales flyers has made the process easier.
For those who want a more set-it-and-forget-it method of savings, think about joining the brand loyalty programs likely offered by many of your most-shopped stores. And if you need to travel frequently for your new business, don’t forget to join the rewards program of your favorite airline or hotel brand.
Another simple way to save without a lot of extra effort is through a solid credit card rewards program. Some of the best cash back credit cards give up to 5% back on your qualifying purchases, meaning you can save big on many of the things you’re buying anyway. Of course, be sure to pay your bill in full every month to avoid accumulating debt and paying interest on your purchases. If your balances rolls over from month to month, the interest charges can outweigh the cash-back rewards earned.
5. If You Tweet It, They Will Come
Although we all know marketing is important, many new business owners may not be sure how to go about it. Do you put up a billboard and some neon lights? Take out an ad in a local publication? Spend thousands on a television commercial?
None of the above. For the typical small business, one of the best ways to get the word out is via the web; in particular, the new standard for basic marketing is social media. Whether sharing photos of the latest products through Instagram or tweeting about the best dessert in town, millions of consumers are on social media—and you should be, too.
The best part? Just about anyone can create and execute an effective social media strategy for their business with a little research and planning. Building and maintaining a social media presence is especially easy for Jimdo users, who can quickly share new posts across different social media platforms.
6. Trade Up—Or At Least Laterally
Another trick to making your new venture a little more affordable is to go old school—really old school. That’s right: bartering. Once the cornerstone of the human economy, bartering is less common in our industrialized world, but may still be a great way to get a product or service you otherwise couldn’t afford.
For example, you may need a professionally-designed product brochure, and your friend the designer may need a few hours of your personal fitness coaching—or even just a good babysitter. Trading on your personal skills, even those that may not be directly related to your new venture, may not only get you the goods, but also help build a good personal or professional relationship.
In addition, try putting some of your old or unused stuff to use by swapping it for something your business actually needs by checking the local paper or websites like Craigslist. You may even be able to upcycle what you need through sites like Freecycle, where people give away things for free in hopes someone else can reuse it in a productive way.
Don’t Let Your Budget Stall Your Dreams
Starting something new can be scary, but it can also be thrilling. And starting your own business could change your life for the better—so don’t allow the perceived costs get in the way of your dreams.
Despite popular lore, you don’t need to be rich to be your own boss. With the right research and planning, just about any intrepid entrepreneur can find ways to save on their new business, turning an expensive dream into the affordable adventure of a lifetime!