16 Resources and Tips for Starting a Business on a Limited Budget
I had just $400 in my bank account when I started working on what has now become WME, so I know all too well the struggles of getting your business up and running on a tight budget. While your budget might not be as small as $400, you still need to cut your coat according to your cloth.
Always watch your sales and expenses. It’s crucial to know whether you’ve made or lost money for each month, and a Profit & Loss (P&L) statement is vital for doing so.
Try a Department P&L like this one, which you can fill in to see how much money is coming in and going out each month. No matter how successful your business comes to be, you will always need to record these figures so you can properly develop sales targets. They’re also particularly useful for getting an overview of an entire department in one quick glance.
There’s no need to hire a marketing professional when you start out. At this stage, no one knows your business better than you, so why would you use anyone else? Social media marketing is a powerful tool for spreading the word about your business, and there are affordable options for promoting your content too. You can also implement long-tail keywords in your SEO campaign – they’re more affordable as they’re less competitive, and still generate a substantial click-through rate.
You can also do your own PR. Submit articles to industry publications such as:
For your social media marketing, there’s a bunch of affordable management platforms that let you create a content calendar and schedule in advance, which gives you more time to focus on other aspects of your business. I recommend:
Hootsuite: Manage social networks and schedule messages from their dashboard
Buffer: Add updates to your content queue, which are then posted throughout the day
TweetDeck: Organise your Twitter account with TweetDeck’s customisable columns and tweet scheduling functions
HubSpot: Inbound marketing software that brings together all the central tactics like blogging, social media and SEO
At this stage, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to afford full-time employees. Instead, bring on board interns who are willing to gain experience, but aren’t at the stage where they can expect payment. It’s a win-win. Virtual assistants are also great for doing those more hands-on administrative tasks that you struggle to get around to, and freelancers are useful for putting together newsletters, logos or creating your website content. Try these:
Virtual Helper 247: Virtual assistants who are skilled at blog posting, lead generation, social media posting, and everything in between. As the name suggests, available on Skype 24/7
Software & tools:
There’s a wide range of accounting and CRM software that offer affordable plans and a reasonable amount of storage, such as:
Nimble CRM software: For $15/user/month with 5GB storage and 30,000 contacts
QuickBooks accounting software: Plans starting from $12.00 a month
And there’s an array of online tools that can make the process of writing your business plan a lot less painful, like:
Bplans: Free business plan samples and templates
Business Model Generator: Free downloadable business canvas so you can visualise your model on one page
For graphic design software, it’s hard to go past:
Canva: It offers both free and premium options, which let you easily create designs for your website, flyers, social media, presentations, invitations, and everything in between.
Use your existing contacts like your friends and family to build your business. Word-of-mouth is also a powerful tool for referrals, so engage in some shameless self-promotion. Try the following:
LinkedIn: Join professional groups and reach out to former colleagues
Small business subreddit on Reddit: Browse the thread for real-world and real-time advice
University alumni network: Reconnect with uni friends to bounce your ideas off like-minded individuals
It’s important to want to do things once and do them right, but that doesn’t mean you need to fork out large sums of cash for tools and services. The most expensive products aren’t always the best, and often the cheaper options provide you with more flexibility, which means it’s easy to scale up when you’re ready to do so.