Starting a company is not cheap. There’s the filing fees for registering your new company, equipment and software costs depending on your industry, and the need to pay for some kind of marketing to attract initial clients. I’ve compiled a few of the ways we tried to minimize our outflow of cash while getting Classify Creative up and running.
Low Budget HQ
You may believe a “real” business requires an office space, but leasing an office is a significant expense and commitment. Instead, look to your home for a dedicated “work zone”. You can still have an office feel, but keep it low budget by working from home to start out.
Take a look at my embarrassingly messy home office and Melissa’s enviably organized one in the images below. (Maybe I can get Melissa to write a post on how to organize your home office...I could use the info myself!)
Granted, the idea of working from home is pretty obvious and an easy choice for many. Sometimes, though, you just need to get out of the house to get anything done. In that case, look to your local businesses with free WiFi (coffee shops being the most popular option). And don’t forget about your local library! Most public libraries offer free WiFi, and even public use computers if you do not have a laptop.
If you have a home printer already, I recommend printing your own business cards when first starting out. Not only does it mean you have cards to hand out sooner than you would when waiting for an online order to ship, but you also save money by using your own ink and printing in smaller batches. Any office supply store will have a small pack of business card paper you can use in any personal printer.
We used home-printed cards for the first month or so before we felt ready to pay for our first set of official business cards. This is not meant to be a long-term solution - it can quickly become more expensive than placing an online order for cards (especially if you catch a good sale!). But if you aren’t ready to shell out $50+ for a whole batch and just need a few to get going, printing from home is a great option. Consider this for fliers, too!
Another reason to do your own printing when starting out is your information could very well change, especially in the first 6 months. We ended up switching email providers a few months after ordering business cards. While we were able to keep the same email address, we also got a business phone number at the same time. We were caught trying to blow through our current stack of business cards in order to be able to order new ones featuring our phone number! Whoops!
Post Your Way to the Top
My final tip to succeeding as a low-budget start up is to make use of the dreaded social medias. Facebook et al are not just there for your grandmother to like your latest picture - they are also great tools to get your grandmother and others to learn about your business! Especially if you have already been using social media in your personal life, then you probably already have a group of followers reading your posts. So start sharing updates about your new venture!
Many platforms, including Facebook and LinkedIn, have the option of creating a business page for free, which can be linked to your personal account for easy management. (Take a look at our Facebook page and LinkedIn page for Classify Creative.) There you can list company information, post updates, feature your work, and start to build a community around your business. Business pages can also increase your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) because big platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are likely to show high on search results lists.
If you need information about how to go about starting and running a business social media page, I have listed some helpful links below, but again don’t forget about your local library! The library is likely to have books to checkout (for free!) about using social media for business, as well as other books for starting and running your own business. (Can you tell I'm a librarian??)
- Effective Facebook Marketing Strategies for 2018
- 22 Facebook Marketing Tips for Small Businesses on a Budget
- Creating a LinkedIn Company Page
- How to Create a Business Page on LinkedIn
There are so many free resources out there for cost-conscious startups. I hope these tips help, and remember to do your research before making a purchase decision. Good luck!