The life of an entrepreneur can be exciting and hopeful, idealistic and richly rewarding. At the same time, launching something new can admittedly be a scary prospect, especially when your income and possibly your savings ride on your venture’s results. How can one be a frugal entrepreneur? Where do you draw the line between prudent expenses required to establish your name, brand, and materials versus unnecessarily (over) spending?
If you have yet to write a formal business plan, stop reading this and go work on that. Seriously. Right now. Run, don’t walk to your local Small Business Administration. The SBA and a select group of trusted associates are your greatest assets at this point. Plan for this team to accompany you along your entrepreneurial journey. A business plan will forecast and map the growth strategy of your business, minimizing the unpleasant surprise expenses that could pop up along the way. Accompanying this document should be a well thought-out budget.
As a start-up business, your largest expenses will most likely be materials and advertising.
Cardinal Rule: Save, but save wisely. Never present yourself cheaply, because it will cheapen you. These days, this does not mean going the extra mile; it’s only an extra jog around the block to make sure your website and written material present professionally. Absolutely no misspellings. Make sure you’re showing up in Google searches, which will take some consultation with someone who knows search engine optimization (check out our post on SEO Basics to learn more).
To save on materials:
To save on advertising:
Network your guts out!
Free advertising opportunities do exist.
Know when to bring in assistance and identify which assistance best suits your needs. An intern might be the cheapest way to go. Keep in mind, however, that there maybe parameters you need to know about and agree to in relation to an unpaid intern position. These rules are usually listed on the intern source website. Additionally, interns are short-term manpower. Take into account that any time that you spend training this person in will need to be re-invested in the next trainee, potentially after just one semester.
And this is where Virtual Assistants, like me, come in.
A Virtual Assistant frees you up from the “around the work” work that needs to be done – the necessary evils you don’t want to (and potentially are not qualified to) perform.
One last way of saving is often left unmentioned. Do not break the law. The penalties involved in using illegal copies of software, plagiarism, patent theft, etc. can break your business in the blink of an eye. Only use email addresses that you check frequently and make sure to read your mail. A cease and desist letter if, say, you inadvertently used material on your website that someone else perceives to be hers can turn into a lawsuit if ignored. A bill left unpaid can bring you fines, interest and eventually, lots of trouble. Pay your taxes, and remember those very legitimate deductions you should take for your business expenses.
So yes, save money. Of course every business, especially a new one, must work within a budget. Just make sure it’s a realistic budget. Save wisely and always present yourself like a million bucks.
Submitted by Aviela