Updated 04 March 20
Starting a business and working for yourself is a dream many people hold and with thanks to the internet, it has never been easier for a founder to start a business - online! But not everyone has a huge amount of cash to spare in order to create a fancy website with loads of cool features and some people just don’t have the money at all, especially in the startup world. And while the sad truth is that you do need to ‘spend money to make money’ i.e. you won’t expand if you never invest in expanding, that comes later. Starting off, you can create an online business with very little capital (not none, notice, but very little). How can you do this? Well, here are some helpful tips to get you set on your way.
Keep It Simple
This might seem obvious, but people often blow their small budgets on the most stupid aspects of a business. Just keep it simple, and keep it cheap. If you create your website with an online website creator, they’ll often give you a subdomain for free, which is fine for now. You have to understand that you’re a young, growing online business, and no one expects absolute perfection from you. You’re new and getting yourself out there, and that’s all that matters.
This applies to messages as well - don’t try to sell overcomplicated, because if people get confused, they won’t buy. Keep it simple and consumer-friendly. Make sure you know what people want and don’t try to be too sophisticated or complex, because you don’t need to be complex right now. You need to be scrappy and tough and handle the first few bumpy months of business. You don’t need expensive ads here, there and everywhere, and you don’t need costly website designers. Understand your budget, and don’t spend it on the first day! Keep yourself restrained and you should be able to get through this first step.
Try To DIY
Outsourcing is great: it produces quality work which you can personalise, usually at a much higher quality than you could produce yourself. The downside? Outsourcing is expensive, and that’s not good if you’re starting out on a tight budget. Freelancers are great, hiring people is great, it’s all good until you notice the bills racking up at the end of the month. Sometimes, this can even get messy, especially if you can’t physically pay your new ‘employees’. Try not to depend on other people that you'll have to pay for the first year of your business. Wait until reliable revenue is coming in, and make it consistent and sizeable before you consider hiring.
Use existing tools to validate your business model
Creating bespoke software is definitely impressive, but so wasteful. As a startup, using the little money and resource we have to build a refined product, before validating it with our users, runs a higher risk of building something that they won’t want. Before building anything, validating your startup should be your main priority and you don’t need a fancy application and lots of cash in the bank to do so. There are plenty of free tools out there that you can utilise to test the basic features of your product. Some of our favourites include;
It's all about getting vital feedback to reinforce the direction your product should take before building anything. So test your idea using what's already out there and working first.
Don’t Scale Up Too Soon
Finally, some age-old advice: don’t try to run before you can walk. Growth might seem tempting and like it will just set you up to be rolling in revenue, but that’s not always the reality that meets you. Often, costs will start to spiral as you try to grow too quickly, and soon you’ll be struggling to make the bottom line, or even falling into debt. To avoid all of this terrible business, make sure that you keep costs in mind when considering growth, and try to hold off any major upscaling until you’re more stable and established as an online business.
Beatrix Potter works as a marketer, specializing in startup marketing, at Write My Essay and also OXEssays, leading her to become involved with a lot of projects. Writing and marketing are two of her passions in life, as well as helping clients at State Of Writing to grow their brand.