There is so much to learn about starting a small business, it can seem overwhelming at times. I think we can all agree that starting your own business is the best way to financial independence (or the worst, if you don’t do it right). To start a new business you need some money – creating a company costs, plus you need raw materials, you need to create an office, and you have to advertise your products and services in order to start doing business. These tips might help you save some money at the beginning of your career.
1. Office equipment
To run a business, you usually need at least some basic equipment – a desk, a phone, a computer, a printer and a chair (plus a phone line and Internet, these are things no business can do without nowadays). This is one thing you can save on when starting a new business – instead of buying new, you can go with used furniture and refurbished hardware, that costs a fraction of a new one.
When choosing computers and office equipment, always go for factory refurbished ones – these products are usually used ones that were repaired by the producer itself, and come with warranty. A refurbished computer and a refurbished printer can do the job just fine, and save you important $$$ at the beginning of your business.
2. Go open source
When choosing the software to use at your office, go for open source solutions. A Windows 8.1 Professional license costs $199.99, while a Microsoft Office Small Business Premium license costs $150 – that’s a total of almost $350. You can substitute them with Linux – that is absolutely free in case of most distributions – and free office suites like LibreOffice or OpenOffice.org, reducing your software costs to $0.
Many people are afraid of using Linux, still considering it an OS for geeks, but it is as user friendly and feature rich as Windows, and quite easy to use. Linux and an open source Office suite will do the job right in the first few months, or even years, of your business activity – and you can always replace them with paid ones if you miss certain features. (On a personal note, I worked six years in IT using open source software only, and I didn’t regret one moment).
3. Cut your advertising costs
Advertising is the life of trade – this quote by Calvin Coolidge (the 30th President of the United States) is true today more than ever. Without advertising your potential customers will not even notice your product or service – and this leads to disaster in most cases.
At the beginning of your business career you can focus on effective advertising strategies with minimal costs. For example, you can offer expert advice to your potential customers free of charge, making you appear a reliable source of the matter, and improving your chances of getting noticed by paying customers. Besides, you can offer quality service to your customers, thus encouraging them to recommend you to their friends and relatives (word of mouth marketing). These are two very effective tools that cost you nothing at all. Combined with more traditional strategies – like an ad in a magazine or on a local radio station – these can build your reputation, and customer base, efficiently with no additional costs.
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