Getting your startup going is an exciting process – and one that more and more of us in the UK are doing. Amazingly, more than 600,000 new companies launched in 2015 alone. There are so many decisions: what company name will you choose? What will your website look like? And can you call yourself ‘Chief President Super-Executive’? (Hey, after all, it is your startup.) But a key issue you’ll always be grappling with is keeping costs down. There are so many expenses involved in getting a business going – no matter how small – that you’ll see your outgoings mount up before your incomings have even seen the light of day. So make sure that every penny counts. Here’s how.
Luckily, the days when clients expected businesses to operate solely out of swish office premises are long gone – and no-one bats an eyelid if you work out of cafes. Indeed, the term ‘coffice’ – meaning café that also serves as your office – has reached the mainstream, and the only bills you’ll see will be on your caffeine habit. If you need a smarter place to meet clients, consider joining a members’ club where the monthly fee won’t be much more than a gym membership – or alternatively, you can always join a shared co-working space like Central Working in London or the Moseley Exchange in Birmingham.
There’s much to be said for hearing top advice from the been-there’s and done-that’s. But you shouldn’t be paying for pricey advisors. “When you’re first starting up, most times hiring a third-party consultant to educate you or tell you what you should be doing is not a worthwhile cost,” says Scott Gerber at Entrepreneur. Instead, tap up everyone you know – family, friends, neighbours – for free advice. Don’t know the right contacts? The British Chambers of Commerce and programs like Virgin StartUp offer free events for startups.
Once your business is growing, you’ll need to employ freelancers, or great staff to take on specific roles. But when you’re starting up, spending unnecessary cash on salaries will eat into your assets. “Plough virtually all income straight back into the business,” says Prowess. “Thankless and austere, yes, but also the only way you will be able to build up enough cash reserves to invest in new equipment or premises, and so grow the business.” So roll your sleeves up and get stuck in. You might find skillsets you never knew you had.
Sorry web designers, your days are numbered. There are more and more off-the-peg ways to build your own website, and ensure it looks professional and beautiful, too. One of the most popular – and easy to use – is Squarespace, but there are lots of others like Moonfruit, too. These are fantastic low-cost ways of having a web presence. You should also make sure you learn the ‘back end’ stuff too – how to update text, add photos and modify its appearance, too. It’s straightforward and means you won’t have to pay steep fees to get a web expert to do it for you.
The web offers a multitude of free or affordable ways to get the word out there about your business: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are the big guns on social media where you can build up a following, and Google AdWords or Twitter promoted tweets are affordable ways of marketing to potential customers. And get to grips with the analytics tools offered by all these platforms so you can see which of your posts, tweets or ads made most impact. Simple, savvy and most important of all – cost-effective.