We've all read the stories in the business blogs of the brand new startups that are rolling in the capital. If you don't have an endless credit line or a crowd of angel investors lining up to help fund your dream, you may need to learn how to make your business dollars stretch a wee bit further.
Here are some tips that can help you start your business on a budget:
Start virtually: An office may be a luxury for your startup phase. Thanks to the rise of the digital age, there are lots of online tools and apps that can help you navigate. Take advantage of Google Docs for sharing of documents, Skype for voice and video communications, Toggl for time tracking, and Square for invoicing and payment processing. If you don't have a need for a physical location for your business, it is a cost that can be put offuntil you grow enough to support it. Restaurants, retail shops, and manufacturers will need a dedicated space, but many of us can work out a home office, garage, or local coffee shop until we start generating solid cash flow.
The cloud: Not only is the internet good for online tools and applications, it has given us access to ample digital storage and reduced the need for expensive software solutions. Rather than pay the upfront cost of pricey brand name software, a little bit of surfing can bring you access to free or inexpensive options available on the cloud. All you need is access to a laptop, tablet or cell phone and you can use and access your documents just about everywhere. Dropbox makes sharing of documents seamless regardless of size. Google Docs doesn't just save documents, it gives you the functionally of Microsoft Office while allowing multiple users to edit them from anywhere. Adobe Creative Cloud eliminates the hefty price tag by giving users access to their software on a subscription basis for a fraction of the cost. Whatever your needs, odds are that you can find the software you need hosted somewhere in the cloud.
Outsource: There is no need to staff up as you get your business up and running. Every hire should be focused on achieving the targets you set in your business plan and supported by your financial growth. Most other business functions, can be handled by independent contractors. Look for affordable skilled professionals on sites such as Upwork, Guru and even Twitter.
Get social: Online social networks are not just for entertainment, they can be cheap or free marketing tools that can spread the word about your business. Build your profiles on whichever channels you feel would give you the best contact with your target market. Then devote a few hours each week getting the word out about your awesome products and services. Build a website blog using targeted keywords to drive more traffic to your brand. A little hard work can help you reach those early adopters that can place the spotlight directly onto your business.
Act like the big dog: You company may be small, but you can convey the image of a big player. A well-designed website is essential to give the illusion of big. Wix and SquareSpace are affordable options that give you access to an eye catching collection of templates that are as unique as your business. Make sure to spring for the customized domain email. An email address ending with @gmail.com or @yahoo.com is a dead giveaway that you are bootstrapping.
A small business needs to make the most out of every dollar especially through the startup phase. If you keep a close eye on your costs, listen to your instincts, and take advantage of the small business edge that gets lost in the corporate culture, you can grow your company into a big dog in no time.