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Operating on a Shoestring – Set up Your Business on a Limited Budget

August 01, 2016

Learn how to cut costs when starting your business.

With the ubiquity of Internet and the rise of cloud computing and mobility solutions, not to mention the emergence of crowdfunding and online lending – and the popularity of “business” reality shows – it seems easier than ever to start a business. Yet despite the ease of which you can get a business up and running, it still requires significant investment on the part of the aspiring small business owner or entrepreneur to get things going. Here are some tried-and-true methods to keep costs down.

Incorporate – Separate your financial and legal liabilities as a business from your personal assets to protect yourself in the short and long term. You can form a limited liability corporation (LLC) for less than $100 through the Internet without legal assistance in most states.

Work from home – With a computer, a cell phone and a dream, you can work just about anywhere. By locating your business in your home, you avoid having to pay for an office or retail site and can seek out applicable tax benefits. If you’re expecting traffic to your residence, check with the zoning office of your city or town to find out if there are any restrictions against running a business from a residence.

Use cloud solutions – Unlike on-premise software, cloud solutions don’t require you to invest in hardware to run the applications and they don’t require you to maintain and upgrade them (the vendor takes care of that automatically). There are numerous finance, planning, sales, marketing and collaboration tools available as a service today that help you to automate planning and management of your business, and you only have to pay for what you use. You can even get cloud-based voice services instead of using a traditional voice service.

DIY website – A website is a critical component of any business. Whether you sell through the website or it’s simply meant to provide information, you’ll need a professional-looking online presence that gives prospective customers confidence in the legitimacy of your business. There are numerous website design templates and (often free) software programs available to get you started so you don’t need to hire a website designer.

Leverage social media – Like a website, it’s critical that you establish a social media presence to demonstrate legitimacy to your prospective customers. Social media is also an excellent, inexpensive way to attract, nurture and inform customers of new offerings and services, and to promote discounts and incentives to drive sales.

Trade in-kind services – Bartering is the exchange of goods and services, rather than cash, among businesses,. For example, if you’re a caterer and you have a connection who’s an accountant, you may be able to save money by trading catering services in exchange for tax advice and preparation.

Train yourself – Thanks to the Internet, you can learn almost everything there is to know about starting and running a business without leaving your house. A quick Google search will point you to numerous articles on how to finance, market, sell and run your business from experts around the world. You can even take free and low-cost online business courses at sites like Coursera or Open College.

These are just some of the ways you can cut costs when starting your business. By eliminating expenses up front, you’ll have more cash to invest in strategic initiatives to grow your business.

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