A couple of years ago, a friend of mine coined a phrase to describe startups that required a lot of money; he called it 'the fortune 500 startup budget'. There are so many reasons why startup ideas never become a reality, or die soon after the business is established. Two of the reasons that stand out are insufficient planning and insufficient budget, or both. Mostly both.
So the question is how do we tackle this problem. Do we just sit down, fold our arms and watch the idea slowly dwindle into non-existence? What do you do when your ideas seem too big for your budget to carry or your budget feels too small to sustain your idea? Since we know now - and should if you do not already know - that quitting is not the answer, here are a few ways you can establish your business on a limited budget regardless of how big your startup is.
1. Go into business in your area of expertise
Depending on your prior business experiences and skill set, some businesses will be much harder to start up, while some others, with adequate hard work of course, will turn out to be a walk in the park. Do not try to venture into uncharted territory; always strive to build your business around what you know. If you move into an area of business where you have very little to no knowledge, you will have to rely on contracted assistance. You will most likely find yourself paying asinine amounts of money for consultancy and other unnecessary external assistance. Stick to what you know - or at least what will require very little of you to learn - and you will spend much less on your way to entrepreneurial success. It is that simple!
2. Own a '5-star corner office' at a fraction of the cost
When it comes to work-space, what matters is that you have a location from which you operate; the 'where' is not as important. And let's face it, whatever you can do from a 4 by 4 room on the 10th floor of an office building; you can certainly do from home, can't you?
You will still have access to smart technology, super fast internet connectivity and the luxury and flexibility to always be available when needed. If you are strapped for cash, turn a section of your home into an office space, fitted out with everything you need. And you have absolute control over the look and feel of your work-space.
If you have children, be sure that they do not have access to the office part of the house. A child picking up the phone when a new client calls may be cute, however, it does not make for the most professional image. In some cases, it may put some clients off.
3. Use coupons to purchase items
Whenever you see an opportunity to buy stuff you need at the fraction of the cost, seize it. One of the ways you can do this is by using coupons. We certainly use them when available for grocery shopping. So using it to purchase office supplies is not far off the mark.
There are many coupon sites out there that you can look through to get some of the most amazing deals on office supplies including stuff like computers, office furniture etc. When I decided to turn part of my home into my office, I had three staff (two sisters and a friend) and I needed some furniture for the space. So I went online and found some really good office chairs on Dealspotr at a good bargain.
This is even more beneficial for big startups that need greater quantity of office supplies; it means more money saved. Who doesn't love that?
4. Market your business for free
There are only two ways I can think of to market something - anything - for free: word of mouth and social media. Tell everyone you know - friends, family acquaintances, and business contacts - about your business. Also, make this known on your social media profiles. Your friends and family can help you increase awareness for your business by spreading the word, while your business contacts can introduce your brand to their professional contacts too. That way, your potential client base grows as you become more known to people in your circle and beyond.
5. Grow the business organically
This is where most experienced entrepreneurs will shout, "bootstrap!" I agree with them; you must make sure that you run a very tight ship financially speaking, if you want to make any headway in your business. Venture capitalists and their funding is not always the answer. Do not make yourself responsible for someone else's money so early on in the business.
Grow your business from within; use the revenue that comes in to manage the business from staffing, to bills and other operating costs. Let the business achieve profitability on its own merit.
This does not mean that you should provide funds from your personal income; let the business be solely responsible for itself. This will eliminate the stress and burden of debt and increase your chances of creating a successful business.
6. Cut costs at all costs
Besides the magic of the 'coupon' for purchasing office supplies, there is still a need to save money in the daily running of your business. For example, using a virtual assistant is a more affordable option than a member of staff. Most good virtual assistants are polyglots. They can answer the phones and improve customer service by attending to clients concerns. Having a virtual assistant may mean that you never have to miss any business calls ever again.
Anything you can do without is overspending, and you most certainly can do without a metal business card. Having the 'cool' factor does not bring in revenue but being frugal in spending might just be the difference between the success and failure of your business.