How to start a business on a budget by author, Sunday Telegraph columnist and public speaker Rachel Bridge.
Starting up your own business is one of the most exciting and exhilarating things you can ever do. Creating something special from nothing but a good idea, with the potential to make a fortune and maybe even make the world a better place in the process – what’s not to love?
And the really good news is that providing you follow a few basic rules, you do not need a lot of money to get it off the ground. Here’s how:
1. Use the resources at your fingertips. Work from home or a local café or library which offers free Wi-Fi. Have a kitchen? You could start making cakes or provide catering for parties. Have a lawn mower? You could offer a local gardening service.
2. Build a business round the skills you already possess. What can you do that someone else might be prepared to pay for? Can you make clothes, paint and decorate, do computer programming, speak Italian? If you possess a skill that other people don’t, or would need to invest time and money learning for themselves, that immediately puts you at a big advantage.
3. Sell a product or service which people need rather than want, which they instantly understand, and which they feel comfortable buying without having to consult anyone else first. Umbrellas at £10 each are a better bet than hot tubs at £10,000 each.
4. Get customers to pay you upfront – or at worse, half upfront, half later, so that your costs are always covered.
5. Tap into free advice. The government has closed down Business Link’s regional offices but it still has a useful website (businesslink.gov.uk). The British Chambers of Commerce runs free events for start-ups; the StartUp Britain website lists a range of events for entrepreneurs around the country, many of them free. The Business and IP Centre at The British Library in London (and its’ satellite centres) also has a wealth of resources for start-ups.
7. Do virtually all the work yourself – and plough virtually all income straight back into the business. Thankless and austere, yes, but also the only way you will be able to build up enough cash reserves to invest in new equipment or premises, and so grow the business.
8. Start small. It is a myth that you need to start big in order to get big. Starting small means lower risk and greater flexibility to be able to tweak things and change them until you get them right.
9. Replace fixed costs with variable ones – by linking your costs to your sales. Hire meeting rooms by the hour, staff by the day and services as you need them.
10. Make the most of free technology to promote your business. Build a website for nothing using an online website builder such as moonfruit.com, wix.com or basekit.com. Then get social networking. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s an amazing way of promoting your business without spending any money. Sign up to Twitter, create a Facebook Page and join LinkedIn.
Success in business is not about starting out with lots of money. It is about adopting the right attitude, thinking your way around problems, and having the determination to put the effort in and give it your best shot. So what are you waiting for?
These tips were based on Rachel’s latest book, ‘How to start a business without any Money‘ which is out now, published by Virgin Books. If you’d like to know more about Rachel her website is rachelbridge.com and you can Follow her on Twitter @rachelbridge100