Virgin’s Richard Branson started his empire with just a few bucks. His strategy then was to invest a few bucks into something, then tweak his purchase just enough to be able to resell it. It was a simple but targeted business strategy that clearly worked. Though Branson wasn’t competing with a digital world then, you can still grab a valuable lesson from his story – and that’s to be very focused.
A friend of mine recently started a business but invested a sizeable portion of his money into branded t-shirts. Another colleague recounts investing $400 on subpar VistaPrint products. Both flushed their money down the toilet on things that were not essential to business building. If you don’t have the money to spend, don’t spend it on things that you cannot gain immediate benefit from. Even if you do have the money, these details are the last priority.
The goal in starting a new business is to not drain the last of your savings. But what do you do when renting an office can cost the same as renting an apartment (not to mention the cost of making it presentable for clients)? What do you do when the average starting price for a website is about $2,500? The costs add up quickly, but if you play it smart you can launch your business for about a hundred bucks.
Choosing a Business Name
Depending on your city, it can cost you almost $100 to just get your business license. A standard license is about $40, then add around another $60 for a DBA. You can bypass all this by doing business under your own name. This option is perfect for service based professionals, like writers, designers, caterers, virtual personal assistants, accountants, attorneys, etc.
Those offering products can get around this too. Though it’s not ideal to have it named after yourself, you can pair your last name with the product. So a last name plus product formula would look something like this: Morimoto’s Survival Supplies. This way, it doesn’t seem unprofessional when the check gets written out to Johnny Morimoto. Later, when you’ve earned a bit of money, you can go ahead and incorporate under the same name. This route lets you keep the same business name and look even more professional as the next set of orders are made out to a company name.
Work from home, and while you’re at it, read up on tax benefits for home offices. Some cities also offer spaces for startup entrepreneurs, where all you have to do is rent a desk or pay a small fee much like a gym membership. In exchange, you get a facility and a professional working environment (not a mention free networking opportunities). However, this is for later. For now just stick to working from home.
You don’t have the money for a $2,500 website. You don’t even have the budget for a super cheap (looking) $500 website. You do have a budget for a WordPress site and all you have to do is pay about $17 a year a domain name. WordPress sites are very easy to set up and customize. Customizing them is key and makes the difference between a sloppy site and a professional looking web presence that can pass for looking like you spent thousands. No one has to know you didn’t.
This is the only tangible product you need. You can get great quality ones from NextDayFlyers.com or UPrinting.com, with your total cost not exceeding about $40.
- $17 (domain) and $40 (business cards) = $57
- You’re still left with $43