Save money when creating your own business

A new year is upon us and so are the new hopefuls who are ‘taking the plunge’, ‘grabbing the bull by the horns’ and setting up their own business.

The registration of self-employment and new businesses is growing at an extraordinary rate, which is totally understandable when you think about it. There has never been a better time and opportunity to build your own business thanks to the “world wide web” and why shouldn’t we. Employees are expected to work harder and longer for not much reward in return. Parents are expected to build a career whilst raising their children and there’s not much left in between.

Workers aren’t necessarily looking for bigger pay cheques as I can tell you first hand, as a business working with these types of aspirational people, time and freedom for your own lives is valued far greater than before.

As many new business founders tell you, the leap of faith is the scariest but it ends up being the most rewarding. But that said, where do you start and how can you do it without breaking the bank?

Your business model, whatever it may be, will more than less be based on selling a service or a product and you need to be able to market it.

Starting totally from scratch (apart from stock) the key elements you will be needing may consist of:

  • Logo and supporting branding

  • Website

  • Email set up

  • Marketing materials

  • Social accounts

The first hurdle to overcome is we want to save money, but not at the cost of doing a bad job or doing it all yourself. Unless you have the knowledge and creativity of a Graphic Designer, you may want to stay away from the DIY theory. However we have plenty of ideas to help.

Find a friend/freelancer or affordable agency

Ask around and find a recent graduate or junior designer. Additionally if you know a friend of a friend who’s a designer, have a chat with them. Junior/graduates skills and creativity is definitely undervalued but they may lack some of the technical knowledge and wisdom of a more matured designer.

Agencies are run by the exact same type of people so it really doesn’t make sense to pay a huge amount as a startup company. Just be sure to check out their previous work so you know of their capabilities and quality.

We don’t recommend the use of the freelancer-for-a-fiver type websites as there’s going to be times where explaining ideas over emails becomes miss-interpreted and time consuming. We take it with a pinch of salt, but the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ comes in to mind. Plus, it’s always nice to put a face to a name and be able to chat in person.

Cut out the guessing game

Now we said avoid the DIY approach but that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved. A designers job is to extract as much information from you to support your brief as i’m sorry to say ‘I want it to look clean and professional’ just doesn’t cut it.

A task we perform with our clients is to ask them to find designs they like, aspects they hate, competitors designs and their industry leaders designs. Providing this type of information immediately narrows the spectrum in which the designer has to focus on.

You additionally may look at supporting colour schemes and fonts you like but remember, don’t be too fixed on those options, give the creative some freedom to explore.

A brilliant platform we use to look at brands, packaging and colour schemes is Pinterest.

Inevitably, the less time the designer spends on coming up with varied designs, shall hopefully resort in a cheaper cost. Ask what their price per hour is and what they estimate it will take. One of the approaches we take is no fixed quotes. We really good at estimating how long it will take but if we produce it quicker than expected, why should you pay the full amount.

Choose your platform wisely

When it comes to creating a website as a startup company, there are a few key aspects to consider;

  • How easily can you manage the website

  • How much does it cost to run

  • Do you have freedom to adapt and adjust your pages

  • How is the website hosted

With the help of your designer, you may look at a DIY website such as Wix but in our own personal experience, we have had much more success with Squarespace. We find this a more sophisticated platform with much more flexibility and capabilities. When given to a designer, the outcomes that can be produced are show stopping.

If you’re looking at selling products from your website, look at if or how much the transaction costs are and who there supporting payment gateways are. A very successful budget platform system would be Shopify but more clients are choosing to now sell through Squaespace once again.

Take note, we aren’t talking of selling thousands of products and variants so you may wish to look at Wordpress and Magento systems.

Remember, the cheapest option to run, isn’t necessarily the best.

You’ve got mail

A part of looking credible is not only visual, but looking at the overall business. One of the quickest ways to loose interest or credibility is running from a hotmail.com address. Having a custom email address provides reassurance to your customers that you are a legit business.

We recommend a GSuite plan to our customers at £3.30 a month but there are free options out there such as Zoho mail. The catch you’ll have with them is, you can only have one account, after that they aren’t free.

Getting your name out there

Social media has turned marketing on its head over the last decade, and they know it. Make profiles on as many platforms as you can and keep them active. Posting regular content that is not only engaging, but valuable will find you on your quickest way to brand awareness. You do need to get your hands dirty with this and look at relevant hashtags, inviting friends and family and additionally important, boost posting.

You will find which platform works best for you in relation to your return of investment but just remember, Linkedin isn’t the only place to sell and promote business and especially don’t rule out Instagram.

Another brilliant marketing tool is a free system called Mailchimp. There are many other email marketing systems out there but again, this is the system we have had most success out of. When correctly integrated with your website, you can effectively collect peoples data (with their permission) and in return, directly keep them posted with latest news, sales and offers. The best news is, Mailchimp is free for accounts with less than 2000 contacts and with a little help from your new designer, you can design emails to look and work hand-in-hand with your website.

Have something to hand out

The likes of vista print have really changed the printing industry especially for supporting small businesses. You too can benefit from low cost printing but don’t fall into the trap of using pre-exisitng templates. With a little help once more from your designer, you can have them produce business cards, flyers, leaflets etc, which all look on brand.

One piece of advice we’d give to you is, consider using better paper stock, especially for items such as brochures and business cards. If it’s an item that is to make an impression it needs to look the part. This wouldn’t apply so much for items such as flyers that are flung through the post.

A brilliant automated printer for business cards that we use, is called Moo. There not the cheapest but they are one of the best for quality.

At the end of the day, your business is your decision and we only offer these points as guidance. We’d love to hear of any additional successes you have had when it comes to saving a few pennies when setting up your own business. We are also willing to have a discussion with anyone that was interested in setting up a business this year, with no obligations what so ever. We don’t say it enough but we genuinely have your best interest at heart and love to see you succeed. Thats worth more to us than sending out a larger invoice.

On a final note, may us here at The Launch Room, wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019.