So you want to start a business? The thought of being your own boss, calling the shots and working to your chosen timetable resonates with you? What about the cost of setting up a business? Hell, you’re barely covering your bills now. How can you become a low-cost entrepreneur? The banks aren’t interested, asking family & friends seems more than awkward with the economy the way it is and you’ve never been one for saving…
Being a low-cost entrepreneur is possible but you have to get money smart to make it work. There are a number of things to consider to bring money in, keep spending low and still do whatever it takes to create the life you want. The low-cost entrepreneur needs to:
1. Identify the resources you already have to hand. Consider your skills, knowledge, attributes, strengths and passions. How can you utilise these to communicate your business, to get your message out to you audience? Also, identify your weaknesses so you can know what tasks you are likely to need to outsource (www.fiver.com – a fantastic resource for jobs you don’t want, like or know how to do.
2. Identify the resources in your area; where can you access free WiFi thus be able to use the venue as a base to work from. Can you work from home or are there any low-cost office services in your area (Check out www.BHive.co – a beautiful and feminine office space with 3 UK locations and affiliation to Regus lounges all for £30 per month!)
3. Whilst your dream business may need some time and research you can start earning money by serving others with the skills you already possess. If you have strong admin skills you might consider helping other small business owners with their support services, charging what you believe to be your worth whilst building your business skills and knowledge (look at www.elance.com or www.peopleperhour.com to see the array of services people need or want)
4. Generate income in as many ways as you can with as little output as necessary (so that you don’t fall into the ‘back to employment’ mindset). For example, www.storenextdoor.com – rent out storage space in your home, www.airnb.com – rent out a room in your home as and when you want to, www.parkatmyhouse.com – renting out your driveway.
5. Offer a service or product that requires payment prior to delivery. That way all of your costs are covered without you having to invest upfront. However, ensure you provide great service and loyalty bonuses to the customers who ‘trust’ you to deliver when they are taking the upfront risk.
6. Get as much free advice as you can from accountants, small business start-up enterprises and network events. However, realise the benefits of investing in your growth and development once you have money flowing in both directions. It is crucial to your success.
7. Use sites to find low-cost equipment. All the technology we use nowadays gets updated at a rate that is crazy to keep up with so check out www.ebay.com, and possibly free items listed on www.gumtree.com and www.craigslist.co.uk
8. Create an organisational chart with a space for all the staff you would want to have in your business. Then place your name in every role. Your job is then to write systems and processes for each of those roles as you do them with a view to outsourcing / hiring someone, to step into it as soon as funds allow. Remember, the sooner you start to build a solid team the sooner you get to focus on what you truly want to do. There is just a period of time when you are literally ‘all things to all people’ – keep it short!
9. Market what you do! Don’t be your industries best-kept secret; get your message out there. Use social media (free accounts) and a website (plenty of free WordPress and template sites such as www.wix.com) to start spreading the word and seek out any PR opportunities (even offer a competition to readers of the local rag).
10. Want it enough to get up each day and ‘take action’. You might even consider starting with a low-cost direct-sales model. You can use it to increase your marketing skills, promote your own business and potentially earn a stream of income as an affiliate. And there are plenty of options out there such as Nu Skin, Visalis and Arbonne.
So can you be a low-cost entrepreneur? Oh yes! You just have to be willing to start…
P.S A good definition to refer to for the low-cost entrepreneur is ‘boot-strapping’. Bootstrapping usually refers to a self-starting process that is supposed to proceed without external input. (Wikipedia)