by Nicola Douglas
Starting a business is tough in any climate, but with the current economic difficulties, it could prove to be even harder. However, there are some great things you can do at little or no costs which will propel your business forward and get you closer to making a profit. Here are just five of them.
Swap your skills with other businesses to get what you need. If for instance, you are an accountant and you are looking for a branding or a logo for your business, find a graphic designer and offer to do their annual accounts filing in return for a negotiated package to produce your logo and business branding.
- Build Your Own Website
There are a number of great tools for building websites that cost little or no money. You can have a blog type website on WordPress at no cost or Microsoft Live Office for Small Business allows you to use templates to easily build and host a website for free (with their URL / domain name) or if you want your own URL / domain name, it will cost you a few pounds. There are a number of domain name providers, so shop around to get the best price for your domain name.
- Have a Home Office
Instead of going out and renting office space, consider converting a space at home into your home office. With today’s advanced technology, setting up and working virtually is easier than ever. Working in this way, not only saves you the rental costs, but with your accountant you can work out ways in which fixed costs, plus lighting, heating and council tax can be offset proportionally against turnover as tax deductible expenses. For some businesses there may even be ways in which you can set up a non-exclusive rental agreement (for the home office space) between you and your business to make further savings. Speak to a professional accountant to see how this could work for you.
- Be Thrifty
Don’t spend money unless you have to. Beg, borrow, blag, review, recycle and reuse wherever possible. Get your ink cartridges refilled. Ask for free samples from potential new suppliers. Reuse the boxes you receive goods in to ship goods out to your customer. Shop around for the best deals on everything from IT equipment to business bank accounts. Use the experiences and expertise of your social and professional networks to get things done. If your brother is a whiz with websites or your friends are fiendishly good with marketing, ask them for help and advice.
- Work PR Opportunities
Instead of paying out huge amounts of money for newspaper, radio or television advertisements, why not put some time into creating a group of media contacts via your networks. These people can be invaluable in promoting your business. You can give them interviews, exclusives on your business and access to your regular press releases. If you are in a service industry, you could even consider putting yourself forward to write a regular column for the local newspaper. Start with small contributions and work your way up.
These are just a small number of the many ideas which are collectively known as “Bootstrapping”. Things you can do to get your business going with little or no upfront cash investment. The theory being that the less money you spend in the set-up of your business, the faster you will see a profit from your business; which for most of us, is what being in business is all about!
About the author:
Nicola Douglas is a professionally qualified coach, specialising in working with Small Businesses and Creative Entrepreneurs.
She has a Diploma (Distinction) from The Coaching Academy in the UK and is the owner of Arcana Coaching http://www.arcana-coaching.co.uk, The Entrepreneur’s Advocate http://entrepreneursadvocate.wordpress.com and is a partner in the project management training company Project Skills Coach.