Launching a new business with little to no startup capital is easier today than ever before. Between do-it-yourself software options and social media, there’s never been a better time to chase down the dream of owning your own business.
Getting started with a tiny budget is all about being disciplined—and making sure every penny you spend is being used in the most efficient way. That means doing your research to make sure you’re only spending as much as you absolutely need to.
In an effort to lighten that load, we’ve pulled together budget-friendly ways to take care of the must-haves on your business checklist.
The Legal Side
When you first start a new business, there are some legal items you’ll need to attend to…
Will your business be a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, or something else? Your entity type can have a big impact on your business.
You’ll also need to make sure that your name and logo don’t infringe on someone else’s copyright or trademark. Plus, if you have an innovative new process, you might want to apply for patent protection.
Navigating all of the laws surrounding new business formation is one of the more complicated parts of launching a business.
Then, when you’re ready to start registering your business and filing for the licenses and permits you might need, LegalZoom is also a great resource. You can take care of most things online—and even chat with an attorney who can answer your questions.
Where to Work
Renting out the corner office in a downtown high-rise can seem glamorous, but as a company that’s just getting its start, a dedicated office is a luxury—and an unnecessary one, at that.
If you have the space, your best option is to work from your home. You won’t incur any rent or other additional costs, and you can even deduct home office expenses from your annual taxes.
If working from your home isn’t an option, look around for local coworking spaces instead.
At most coworking spaces, you can rent a desk or a small office for an affordable monthly fee, so you’ll have a place to go while the kids are out of school for the summer. Coworking is also an amazing way to meet like-minded people who you can bounce ideas off of—they might even become partners in your business.
It’s no secret that bookkeeping is no one’s favorite part of starting and running a business.
But as much as we dislike numbers and accounting, keeping up-to-date and accurate books is a big part of being fiscally responsible and ensuring financial success. Thankfully, there are tons of online software options, so you don’t need to go out and hire a full-time accountant to do your books.
With a tool like QuickBooks from Intuit, you can track expenses, sync with your bank account, and create professional invoices for as little as $5-10 per month. Another option is Wave Accounting: it’s totally free and you can even consult with accounting professionals online.
Streamlined communication is a big factor when starting a new business. Current and potential customers should be able to get in touch with you with ease so you can answer questions about products, give directions to your brick & mortar, and take new orders.
You don’t need a traditional phone system with expensive hardware anymore—you can get a cloud-based phone system like Grasshopper and have a business line right on your mobile or smartphone.
When you need to contact partners, mentors, or—down the line—employees, a tool like Slack makes it easy to communicate in real-time and even send and receive documents.
Building a Website
It used to be that designing and building an attractive and functional website was better left to the design and development pros…
With so many website-building platforms, you have your pick of where to host your company’s website. Sites like WordPress and Wix do most of the heavy lifting for you, either for free or for a manageable monthly cost.
The best websites aren’t just attractive—they’re easy to navigate and use, too. You can use tools like UserTesting sparingly to make sure potential customers can find what they’re looking for on your site.
When you’re just starting a new business, marketing is one of the most important tasks. It’s how you let the market know about your company and product and attract customers.
Luckily, it also has some of the most budget-friendly solutions.
Social media ushered in a whole new age of marketing… And you have access to it for free.
That means you can reach more people with $0 than ever before.
Set up pages for your business on the big social media sites—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn—and anywhere else your target audience hangs out, like Pinterest, Reddit, Google+, and so on.
You can get even more free publicity by participating on sites like Help A Reporter Out(HARO), where journalists are looking for knowledgeable sources to include in articles and other publications.
Work Your Budget
Gone are the days when limited startup funding was a barrier to launching your dream business. Today, you can use online solutions, lots of research, and a commitment to efficiency to overcome a shoestring budget.
So no more excuses—get started today!