The Agile Start-Up: 5 Tips for Achieving Growth with a Tight Budget
Posted by Guest Author on November 13, 2013 in Business Start Up Advice [ 0 Comments ]
When you start your own business, you may discover that you quickly run out of money. Without any money, how do you plan on growing the business? Here are some tips for achieving growth on a tight budget.
Get Smart with Advertising
One area where you’ll spend the majority of your money is advertising. Rather than pay for a billboard ad or a full-page ad in a newspaper, why not buy a smaller space in several different newspapers? This will slash your advertising budget by at least half.
If you find yourself spending the average 15% of your budget sending out emails for your advertising efforts, you may also want to start taking a look at the future of social media advertising. These platforms allow you to have greater control of your finances like how much you spend, what types of advertising efforts you want to put forth, and how you want to monitor the hits to your post. By utilizing social media, you give yourself the opportunity to tailor your ads to your target group. For example, with Facebook advertisers have the ability to figure out how they want to target their audience. With features that let you choose from your audiences’ interests to their location, you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly who sees your advertising efforts without having to spend excess money hoping that you may reach someone.
Go Light on Equipment and Furniture
Thanks to advanced technology, computer equipment is cheaper than ever. All you need, really, is a mobile device like the Lenovo tablet laptop and an all-in-one printer. This will take care of your communication, scanning, and printing needs. Faxing isn’t really necessary anymore, thanks to scanning and e-mail. If you have employees, rather than have company cell phones, lay out the rules and implement a Bring Your Own Device policy. This will put the financial burden of a cell phone on the employee instead of on your company. For the Internet, choose the slowest possible tier — there’s no reason to have lightning fast Internet speeds at your office.
If you plan on having furniture in the office, look at wholesale outlets or buy used furniture. If you can find a company that’s liquidating all of their items, you’ll find gently used office furniture for an affordable price. Never buy new furniture — it’s extremely expensive and not worth it for your office.
Create Your Own Website
First things first, figure out if you need to build a website. Rather than hire someone to build your own website or pay a hosting company hundreds of dollars each year, build a quick and informative site for free. Sites like WordPress allow you to theme your website and lay out the information that you want for no charge whatsoever. If you’d like, you can claim your own domain for as little as $10 a year through some hosting companies, then have it redirect to your WordPress page. People will go to your site for company information, so make sure that they get it without having to wade through a bunch of images and questionable design choices.
Many sites such as Webs.com or Godaddy.com have tools that make it much easier for you to utilize their web hosting abilities. They will give you a design template, step by step instructions, and the tools necessary for building your website from the ground up. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with process you can begin to customize it to your company’s standards. Leaving this in the hands of a developer can run anywhere from $500 – $2,500 a month. For a small business, this is a detrimental amount of money.
Retain Clients with Amazing Customer Service
The number one thing that your company should focus on is delivering an amazing, personable customer service experience. You want those customers going and telling their friends about your company. You also want those customers to shop with you again. Take notes — whether it’s on a sheet of paper or a spreadsheet on the computer — of your customers, what they ordered, and what they may like. Keep contact with them via e-mail or a telephone call to make sure they had no issues with the transaction with your business and, if applicable, whether they’re enjoying the product or not.
This type of customer service goes a long way in making the customer feel like they’re special and that they truly matter to your business. A personal experience from a business like this can create a customer for life. In fact, about 70% of small businesses would rather lend some of their budget to pen and paper mail over electronically mailing information to their consumers.
Related: Direct Mail: 5 Ways to Save More
Hire an Accountant to Manage Your Money
Hiring an accountant to manage your money is one of the smartest things you can do for your new startup. If some of your finances are unaccounted for, the IRS can slap you with a fine that locks down 20% of your business’ funds. This might put a huge damper on your reputation or the progression of your business. By hiring an accountant, you’ll understand the daily costs of running your business, you’ll have all the customers’ payment details in line, and you’ll be able to create a better budget for your company. Accountants have the knowledge of all of your startup costs, what you’re business assets look like, the ins and outs of the financial systems created to help manage the business universe, and the ability to connect you to another business where you can develop a type of symbiotic relationship.
If there are any costs that somehow manage to slip your mind, your accountant will remind you and help you adjust your budget to fit them in, as well as the costs you’ll incur in the upcoming months. When tax time rolls around, you’ll be extremely relieved that you have someone on the payroll that can take care of things for you. Plus, your pro forma sheet will be up to date and ready for the next round of financial business transactions that you’ll need to start up before the following year.
Starting your own business is a huge task to take on, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Hopefully you’ll get some relief by following these tips. There are more ways to grow your business, but these are just a few.
When you started your own business, how did you raise money? Were there any non-traditional methods that you decided to implement that paid off? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Author Bio: Miles Young is a freelance writer, designer and business columnist. He’s written for established publications like CloudTweaks and http://www.