So you’ve started a business? congratulations! All those long days and nights working on that idea have finally paid off and now it’s becoming a reality. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ve got some investors on your side, helping you get started. It’s inspiring to see how the champions of industry (Walmart, Home Depot, Google, etc.) have come so far, but remember that they, too, started small.
When starting a business, it’s important to keep costs low, especially if you have little to begin with. It’s the basics — minimize cost to maximize profit. Here are some tips on how to manage costs and save money when you first start your business:
1) If you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to ask
Consultation fees, legal fees, and accounting fees can rack up fast. You’ll inevitably need to deal with consultants, lawyers, or marketing agencies to handle certain aspects of your business. Strike this out from your list of accounts payable by seeking advice from mentors, advisors, or your peers. It might get tricky to filter through the noise, so make sure you’re only taking advice from relevant people.
You can also always find resources like NYC Business, which provides free legal advice. Prepare your questions to get the most out of your time when meeting with them. For more technical areas you may need advice on, there are platforms like Score that help you to network with volunteer experts ready to provide professional assistance.
2) Give interns a shot — don’t hire full time employees just yet
Say yes to interns! You’re not only helping your business by hiring inexpensive labor, but you’re developing a pipeline of potential future employees. Be sure to only take in those that fit well with your company culture, because hiring interns that don’t mesh well with your business might cost you. Unlike full-time employees, interns don’t require extensive benefits packages because of the temporary work periods. Interns can also offer a new perspective on your business and tackle some of the projects you haven’t had the bandwidth to complete yet.
3) Compensation doesn’t need to be monetary
Cash incentives, while enticing, are not the only ways to reward your employees, especially when your business is new. You may not have the financial capacity to provide this just yet. Check out this list of ways you can reward employees without breaking the bank.
4) Outsource services
Outsourcing is something that has become far more accessible, thanks to the internet. Outsourcing contractual employees only for a period of time cuts out the need to pay the employees yearly salaries, provide certain employee benefits, and allow access to a broader potential talent pool. That said, there are definitely drawbacks to outsourcing that might not hit you until a project is already underway.
5) Your home office is your friend. You don’t need a seat at WeWork just yet
This might not be applicable for all types of businesses, but, if your team isn’t too big, you might not need an office space to get things done. Coworking spaces, coffee shops, or a home office are all good options. As long as there’s strong broadband connection, this can be your space to work. Starting your business from home also affords you certain tax benefits to help you cut down on costs. Many budding businesses make a mistake by investing in an office space too early and leasing office space is expensive. In this day and age, we are lucky that so many industries support remote work.
6) Invest your advertising in channels that don’t cost a fortune
During the early days of your business, you definitely do not need a 50 x 50 foot billboard or a SuperBowl ad to market your products or services. These types of placements cost a fortune. Try to make the most of the internet, email newsletters, and even word of mouth to begin. Try Facebook and Instagram ads instead of jumping into Google Display Ads. Be sure to read up on these different channels before investing all of your money in these ads.
7) Offer to speak for free at events or host a family and friends’ night
As mentioned earlier, word of mouth can travel fast. Start with promoting your new business organically (and cheaply) to set the foundation for building a loyal customer base. Try holding a free seminar related to your business, or a social mixer just to get people talking about your new venture. Once you provide a great experience to these people, the word will get around.
8) Second-hand resources are your friend
Borrow, rent, and buy second hand — finding used resources from others that may still be of use to you will benefit you greatly in the early stages of your business. You can save loads of money by buying used printers, old office scanners, monitors, keyboards, or whatever else your business may need. Reinvest the money you save back in your business. You’ll have plenty of chances down the line to buy newer equipment.
9) Invest what you do have
Before expanding your business, take a look at your funds. Can you afford to hire new people right now? Does the office lease fit your current budget? Don’t rush into big cash purchases from the get-go. Instead, invest extra funds or savings into more important parts of your business — always think about your next move before making big decisions.
Consider reading up on mutual funds, money market funds, or other low risk and low maintenance investment options. Deciding to invest extra cash lets your money grow instead sitting around, stagnating in the bank. Your extra cash can grow into funds you will use to expand your business. If you do decide to invest, diversify your investments, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, and align these investments with your business goals.
10) Keep your personal expenses at a minimum
You are your own boss now, which means that every personal expense is also a work expense. While starting your new venture, make an effort to be deliberate about your personal spending. This is not the time to take on personal debt.