Diane Holden: Starting a business on a budget

Guest column by Diane Holden, senior account manager at Xero.

Creating a new business is an incredibly daunting thing. Both the investment of time and money into a new venture can be stressful, without even taking into consideration what can often be a small starting budget.

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However, with the access we have to affordable technology and information, it has never been more straightforward to build a business on a shoestring budget. With access to a computer, tablet and a mobile phone, much of the infrastructure you may need is already in place. Of course, businesses will have varying equipment needs, but with these three things you could manage your own finances with an app like Xero, set up a POS system with iZettle, and avoid a hefty landline cost!

Some of my other top tips for keeping costs down when starting out are:

Start the business from home
Although working from home requires a certain amount of discipline to not get distracted, it can be a big help when first starting out your business. Without a sunk cost into rent and premises, capital can be freed up and applied to making sure the foundations of your business are solid. As an added benefit, using the spare room or the garden shed means no commute and no overpriced sandwiches at lunch!

Embrace social media
Ensure you’re making the absolute most of the free and low-cost tools at your disposal like social media. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have zero barrier to entry and can help to raise your business’ profile without costing a penny. Having a presence on social media also puts you in direct contact with your customers, meaning customer service becomes a more personalised and agile affair. The consistent contact also serves to keep you in tune with what customers want.

Beg, borrow and barter
Always ask for help. When you first start out, look for (and use!) all the free and discounted resources available to you. Find a local or online networking group with like minded individuals for support or advice, or perhaps see if friends and family can lend a hand and have a chat with other local businesses to see your offering and skills can be traded for theirs. A mutually beneficial agreement can help shave off overhead costs and every little bit helps!

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