How to start a small business on a shoestring

Start a business

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  • Every small business needs capital to get started, but there’s a lot you can do with very little or no money. Here are some useful tips and tricks for starting a business on a shoestring.
  • Embrace Apps

  • There are so many free downloadable apps available now for your mobile, Mac or PC that can really help get you started, whether you need help organising your time, keeping on top of your finances or identifying your market.
  • Asking for help is free

Good advice when starting your small business is worth its weight in gold, but it doesn’t have to cost you anything. Wherever you are in the UK, you can find free local support, including help with developing your business ideas.

Go digital

Thanks to tools like Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, pay-per-click advertising and YouTube, anyone can access a worldwide audience for little or no cost. Blogging is a free and powerful way to get your business noticed by pushing your website up the search rankings. With social media, you can interact directly with a huge audience of your target customers to promote your product or service.

  • Only pay for what you need

Every penny counts when you’re starting up, and you don’t want any surprises from an unexpected phone bill. With cloud-based systems such as VoIP phone services, you pay a low, fixed monthly cost each month, and you can change your package at any time, so you can focus on growing your business. Find out more in our guide to business VoIP phone systems.

You can also discover how VoIP can transform a small business in our case study.

Barter, don’t buy

Skills exchange websites are becoming more and more popular. The online equivalent of the newsagent’s notice board, this is a place where people can meet and swap their expertise. Do you need a website designed? Can you offer a useful skill in return? If so, you could find a ‘win-win’ where both parties get what they want without having to pay a penny.

Make a plan and stick to it

When you’re clear and specific about the business you want to build and how you intend to do it, you’ll cut out any unnecessary purchases. This is crucially important when you have a limited budget, where an impulsive buying decision could have a dramatic impact on your business.

Two heads are better than one

Consider a business partnership. There’s no reason to do it all on your own and starting up a business with someone else means that you can halve the cost and double the potential. Provided that you’re clear on your expectations of each other and you have a good working relationship, a partnership can be a great way to start a business with less cost and less risk.

Discover the 7 valuable services your business can access for free