As a consultant who hears from dozens of companies each week, the most common issue I hear is that the new business owner doesn’t have enough money to start up. The reality is that you can easily start a company with little to no money at all. While you may not get out of the gates as the industry leader, you can get your feet wet and start earning revenue from day one.
If you are strapped for cash and willing to roll up your sleeves, here are the critical steps for launching a business on the cheap:
- Domain and Email: These days it is easy to setup your own website and domain. There are tons of options that streamline and walk you through the process from purchasing your domain through basic website design through establishing your company branded email. Register the primary domain as a .com (try to get common misspellings and other options such as .net too). Then setup your email for through Google Apps if it's not provided by your website hosting company.
- Logo: A simple way to stand out from the competition is an eye catching logo. If you are not a design guru, there are lots of low cost options available such as Upwork and Crowdspring that can put you in touch with great designers who can launch your brand with a killer logo at an affordable price. Take advantage of a bundle option if possible and get your business cards, PowerPoint backdrop, and letterhead to maximize your time and budget.
- Pitch Deck: As you begin to garner interest in your business, you will find yourself in need of a document to showcase your business. Keep it concise and easy to understand. Skip the complex jargon and get to the core of your concept. At minimum include your vision, product, market, revenue forecast, and key team members. This should be a living and breathing document that you will revisit as your business grows and evolves.
- Launch your website: You've got the domain, now put it to use! It can be as simple as a landing page to get folks exited for your business or a fully designed site, but getting online is a critical step in today's marketplace. Make sure to include your logo, business description, images or screenshots, and a way to contact you.
- Create a company blog: Blog? Why Blog? Because it drives traffic to that lovely website that you spent hours getting up and running! It is a signal to the world and to the search engines that you are alive. Try to post new content at least once a week and see the clicks start rolling in.
- Marketing: There are lots of marketing options out there - both paid and unpaid - to drive more traffic to your website. Google AdWords and Facebook are low cost options. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are free solutions that will take a little hustle to get rolling.
- Business Plan: I know it's a scary concept, but you NEED a plan. While a pretty plan designed to show off your business to banks and investors is awesome, you can go basic and still get the job done. If you are creating a plan for your eyes only, sit down with a notebook or a stack of sticky notes and think through the path you would like to take to achieve the vision you have for your business.
- Launch: Stop putting it off and get down to work. Stop letting the fear of starting up stop you from getting started. Roll up your sleeves and take the first steps to enter the world on entrepreneurship!
About the author: The Business Girl is Terri Sullivan Biehn. I have been a professional business writer and management consultant for more than seventeen years. As a management consultant, I work with entrepreneurs to develop business plans, proposals and other documents. Through my consulting practice, I coach entrepreneurs and small business owners on their general start-up, marketing, financial, operational and management issues.