Although the idea of running your own business appeals to many people, you are probably not going to see many of them actually going through with it. Apart from the tough economy, one of the major obstacles that prevent you and them from getting a business of the ground, especially if you have huge plans, is the lack of funds. It’s incredibly risky, and you can end up burning through thousands or even millions of dollars, only to end broke and closing down your business. You don’t hear about those very much. You only hear about success stories.
However, you can still consider starting a low-cost business, which won’t cost you as much, and which you will be able to build up gradually if you have good ideas. If you are willing to put in the hard work, and spend many, many sleepless nights doing your best to get things moving, and to become your own boss, then you should keep on reading, because we have complied a guide on how you can start you own low-cost business today.
1. Keep the Costs Down
Most business ideas will require at least some money in order to become a reality, and it’s up to you to decide how much money you want to spend. But, this is where most entrepreneurs get carried away, and spend more than they have. Taking out loans, getting buried in credit card debt, or spending all their savings at once is something you should avoid in most cases. You don’t need an office, fancy business cards, new computers or phones right away. Depending on what sort of business you are trying to start, you can do everything from your own home, basement, garage, or shed.
For instance, content creation is a business you can get into without spending a single dollar. If you are a talented writer, translator, designer, developer, videographer, or an illustrator, there is plenty of work waiting for you online. You can choose to contact your clients directly or find them on outsourcing platforms like Upwork or Freelancer. The internet never sleeps, which means there is constant demand for high-quality content. What you can easily outsource, outsource. What you can cheaply borrow, borrow. You should take advantage of that and get in on the bandwagon, because it’s not going to stop any time soon.
2. Do What You Know
While the concept of starting fresh and doing something new altogether, something which you have never done before, is attractive, it might not be the course of action. Everything is up against you as it is, which means you won’t have much room to make mistakes, and you will make a lot of those if you decide to venture outside of your skill set. Focus on your area of expertise, and go from there. This means you will make less mistakes, and you won’t have to rely on anyone for help other than yourself. Knowledge is your biggest capital when you are starting out, not money. Yes, you will hear stories about engineers quitting their work to become farmers, but like we’ve already pointed out, you only hear about success stories.
Another low-cost business example is giving music lessons. As a musician, you won’t make a lot of money these days, but if your skills are excellent and if you have the ability to pass your knowledge onto other people, music lessons might be a way to become your own boss. It won’t cost you a dime, because students are expected to bring their own instruments, and as far as space is concerned, you can start from your own home. You can also expand your activities to include online lessons. The only thing you’re really going to need to invest in is sheet music and/or song books, and those are pretty cheap.
3. Promote Your Business
As soon as you are ready to work, you need to let people know about your new business. These days, it is very easy to reach people through social media, and it won’t cost you anything early on. Once you have some funds saved up, you can invest into an online marketing campaign. Also, don’t forget about the offline world. Notify all of your friends, family, former colleagues and clients that you are starting a business and offering your services. If you live in a small community, passing out flyers and spreading the word can be an efficient method of attracting potential clients. If you can get the local media to promote your work, even better.
For instance, your arts and crafts business can benefit a lot if you take part in some of the town, county, or state fairs that taking place almost every month. But, what would really help your business is having a profile on Etsy, or a similar website. These are online marketplaces where artisans can promote and sell their woodwork, jewelry, furniture, clothes, paintings, and just about anything else. It won’t cost you anything to open up an account, although there are some selling fees, which are fairly reasonable. Plus, you will save money by not having to rent space for your store.
4. Figure Out How to Bill Your Customers
if you are selling stuff on Etsy, Amazon, eBay, or directly through your official website, billing your work is a non-issue, because you will be able to receive money in no time. However, this only applies to retail. If you are providing a continuous service, such as consulting, or if you are a wholesale distributor, for instance, you need to make sure that your receivables policy is solid. While your customers will certainly want to pay 30 or even 60 days after receiving the goods, don’t base your policy on what they want. Base it on your own business and your ability to stay afloat.
Another low-cost business idea you can make use of is to create and sell online courses and tutorials. We’ve already mentioned how you can give live lessons via Skype, but you can also record video tutorials, or write an eBook or a course on anything from photography, DIY projects, music, to programming, film editing, and singing. Singing lessons in the shape of video tutorials are very popular, and you can even set up a YouTube channel to drive more customers to purchase your course and gain wider exposure.
5. Work Harder than Ever Before
Sorry to say, but there are no shortcuts, and no secret ingredients when running your business. In the beginning, to save money, you will have to do everything yourself, and that includes making calls, contacting potential clients, advertising, sending out invoices, handling customer support, and so on. You will be required to become a jack of all trades, but all that hard work will eventually pay off. Once you start making money, you will be able to hire help, and you will still remain your own boss.
The ability to handle all these tasks and errands can even serve as an idea for your business. For example, waiting in line to pay the bills, picking up groceries or medicine, driving children to and from school, and sending packages instead of busy parents or disabled people is becoming an increasingly popular and profitable business. All you need is a car, and a full tank of gas. It is up to you to decide whether to charge your client by the hour, or by the errand. Also, if managing time is one of your strong suits, you can begin organizing events. Not only will you be able to save time for your clients and earn money in the process, but you will also meet plenty of new people, all of which will be potential customers and contacts.
Starting a low-cost business is hard, but if you don’t quit right away and if you continue to work hard, all that effort will pay off. Once you build a stable foundation, you will be able to work less and manage your time in any way you see fit. Keep that in mind when times get tough. You can make it. Good luck!