Starting a Business Does NOT Have to Be Expensive
I was often told that starting my own business would be expensive -- which for me, was a HUGE deterrent. I was only 21, fresh out of collage, newly married, and money was one thing I didn't have a whole lot of.
I was fortunate to be able to start my business out of my home with relatively no out-of-pocket cost. And while it may have taking me a bit longer to do things this way, it was worth it for the amount of money I saved.
Depending on the type of business you're starting, I'd like to encourage you to push past the myth that starting a business has to be expensive. In today's business world, there are so many ways you can defray your start-up costs... or even eliminate them completely!
Starting a business does NOT have to be expensive -- and yes, I speak from experience
Start a free website/blog with Wordpress.com
Yes, that's right... wordpress.com is completely free and you don't even need to purchase a domain name or hosting service.
Obviously, there are some draw-backs to a completely free website... but EVERY business needs some type of web presence and "free" is about as good as you can get on a tight budget!
Advertise for free via social media.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a whole slew of other social media platforms are all free... and you just might be surprised how quickly news spreads via social media.
Create at least 2 different social media accounts for your business (my favorite are Facebook and Twitter) and start spreading the word via pictures, links to your website, product information, sales, discounts, etc.
Get free business products.
When I first started, I got my 250 free business cards from Vistaprint.com -- and I was good to go. They weren't the fanciest business cards in the world but they worked for the first few months when my budget was pretty much zero.
Vistaprint also offers deals for free (or really cheap) pens, sticky notes, magnets, post cards, t-shirts, window clings, etc. -- all of which can be used to help defray your start-up costs.
If you are fortunate to have a smart phone or tablet, make sure you download a bunch of the free business and productivity Apps.
Use the technology you currently have.
Maybe you don't have the latest and greatest smart phone, tablet, or computer -- but will it work for now? Probably!
There are so many libraries and other public facilities that offer free WIFI and even free computer usage (even the Burger King by our house has 5 computers for public use!). And if you don't have a printer, look into Staples or Kinko's to get you through those first few months.
Believe it or not, I didn't even have internet for the first year of my business and I didn't spring for a fancy phone until FOUR years into my business! It can be done
Join free or low-cost networking groups.
I know there are many somewhat expensive networking groups out there -- and I personally avoided them because of that reason. I went from time to time with "guest passes" but never really felt like they would be worth the enormous time and money investment.
Instead, I search for smaller (usually free) groups that seemed to be more "close-knit" and I actually benefited from many more referrals due to the smaller, more intimate size of the group.
"Hire" student interns.
I had 2 internships when I was in college. One was paid, the other was not. Both looked great on my resume and I didn't feel "slighted" by the company who didn't pay me because I got such great hands-on experience.
So, if you're looking for a little bit of extra help but can't afford to pay for it, contact your local colleges and universities. You might be amazed at how much talent is available (for free!)
Reduce your overhead expenses.
Obviously, the least expensive option would be to work out of your home... but if that's not possible, look into sharing an office space with a friend, relative, or other business person. Look for a small space that will be less expensive to heat, cool, etc.
Don't pay to get paid.
It's crazy how expensive it can be to accept credit card payments... and I'm sure I don't need to tell you how many more sales you'll get if you can accept credit card.
I signed up for a free PayPal account which makes taking payments of any type extremely fast and easy. Also, now that I have an iPhone, I signed up for Square -- which allows me to take a credit card payment directly from my phone.
Both of these services are completely free with no annual fees. They just take a very small percentage of every sale -- which is so minimal compare to some of the other payment programs out there.
Keep inventory to a minimum.
Obviously, less inventory means less product expense. However, it also means that you don't have to pay as much (if anything) to store the inventory. I was fortunate that I didn't have any product inventory, but I know many fellow entrepreneurs that kept everything in their basement, in their garage, or even in their vehicles for those first few months!
There are many more ideas, but my point is that starting a business doesn't have to be expensive! In my experience it definitely was not :)