Setting up a business costs less than ever. Twenty odd years ago the finances involved in starting a business, even one that simply existed online, was considerably higher than it is now. I dug out an old business plan from around 2006 and looked at the figures for building a website. I can hardly believe that then I was quoted in the ballpark of £10,000 just for a website build with a fairly substantial monthly maintenance fee added on to boot. I know that you can still pay in excess of £25,000 for a website, but that is for a complex online shopping site with all the bells and whistles.
If you’re not at that advanced stage yet, but have a business concept that you’d like to launch, then there is a range of tools available that you can access without having to find investor backing or pouring all your savings into the project. If you’re a fan of “Dragons’ Den” then you’ll probably be aware that the ‘Dragons’ are always warning entrepreneurs not to take extreme risks, such as remortgaging, because that and pouring personal savings, pension pot etc into a new business could end up with you losing your home and lifestyle. This is especially important to anyone who is 50+ starting a business, because, unlike someone in their 30s, we are at risk of not having enough time or the means to recover from such a loss. So, here are five ways to start a business and keep costs down.
In the past there was an expectation that a business would have a physical office. This bumped up starting costs considerably. Nowadays, home working is the norm, so create a corner of your home as your workspace. This also means you don’t have to buy another computer and printer, or take a contract for another ADSL line.
Talk is cheaper
Today there’s less need to factor phone usage into your budget, or at least there are ways to minimise it through the use of VOIP services such as Skype. You don’t have to use Skype just to communicate with other people on the service, you can put money in your Skype account then call mobiles and landlines anywhere in the world. You can even buy a business number in another country to make calls cheaper for clients living there and have the calls directed through to your business number.
Website domain and hosting
Every business needs an online presence and it’s getting easier to do it yourself. WordPress provides an extensive range of free and paid for themes. The free ones are perfect for a fledgling business. You will need to buy a domain name –
123-reg is a cost effective solution for UK residents with domains starting at around 99p. You’ll also need a hosting company such as Tsohost, which stores your website on a server, or 123-reg can also help you with this from a monthly fee of £2.49.
Website design and content
If you find that no matter how many YouTube tutorials you watch about how to create a website with WordPress then help is at hand. After a marketing expert introduced me to Fiverr I realised that there were designers all around the world who could supply what I needed for, yes, a fiver! It’s simple to use and you can get everything from web pages to flyers and business cards designed.
You’ll need content for each page and if you’re not a natural born content creator and writer than hire one. You can find writers on sites such as Fiverr and Elance. You set a budget and the freelancers bid for your job. It pays to go for people with the best recommendations and you’ll soon figure out from the responses who writes good English, and who doesn’t! I’d estimate that the setup cost for an entire website using WordPress should be around the £300 – £500 mark if you keep it simple and don’t need an online store. If you do want to sell online, then Shopify from Facebook is an option worth exploring.
Marketing your new business
This is the most critical element of the new venture and where social media comes in very handy. A Facebook page for your business is one of the low cost means of getting known, and Twitter and Instagram are the social media channels that will help you interact with big brands and the national media. Don’t know how to tweet? There are loads of guides to get you started and work on a strategy, or you can call on Fiverr again and find somebody else to do it for you. Making videos for your own YouTube channel is another excellent way to promote your company. It’s no longer really necessary to take out adverts in print publications, unless a local magazine or paper is right for your target audience. The same goes for spending money on flyers and posters. You’ll need a business card and the design and printing costs are a lot less now than 30 year’s ago, especially if you use a company like Vistaprint.
It takes time to learn all the online elements of a business startup, but it beats stumping up thousands just to get going. The opportunity to start a business is there right now – grab it, because you have less to lose than ever.