One of the biggest challenges for startups is money. How to get started when you have pretty much have none.

A lot of what I do in my business is done by me – graphics, website, bookkeeping etc. all self-taught because early in my Sass journey I had no choice. With a $70k rent to pay each year there was little left in those early years to pay for anything else. 

As I have been in business longer and also experienced the difference of a franchise vs your own brand. I have seen how much time can be taken up with things that aren’t in your zone of genius (the beauty of a franchise is there are people doing a lot of the basics or systems set up for you). I have also seen how if you take the cheap option first up it can impact your business and still require that money to be spent anyway.

If I could do my time again – I would have saved or put away more money to get my business going properly, the first time. I see some businesses starting up trying to reach for the stars (and with the potential to do so!) but let down by business appearance or lack of cashflow. Whether we like it or not, first impressions count. And when you are CONSTANTLY running a business based on the next $$, it’s not fun. 

There are a few things I believe need to be done right first up and other things you can invest in later (this is assuming you have chosen biz name, checked IP registers, registered it, gained some business education, insurance etc). And sorry that new coffee machine isn’t one of my recommendations 😉

1. Get your web domain (I will always try and get both the .com and the .com.au and if you can other derivatives of it) and hosting. Setup a branded email (eg. Yourname@yourbusiness.com.au. Gah to @Gmail accounts!!) and an under construction landing page with your contact details. 

I use WordPress because it is really easy to find developers. But others I know have used Show It (I think!) and squarespace. You can get hosting for as little as $3 a month with someone like a Zuver Hosting and Domains or $6.95 per month withVentraIP Australia (both Australian). 

2. Social media handles. At a minimum get your Facebook and Instagram handles. But try and get them across all social media options. Have an active Facebook page when you have your branding- you will be surprised how many will search by fb. 

3. Consistent Branding. Invest in a good logo and brand design. Logo is one part of your brand. Be clear on your brand feel and voice, elements, colours fonts. Ensure consistency across all avenues of your business, including things like uniforms. My branding hasn’t always been perfect given much of it has been self done. But it has always been consistent. Save up and Spend money with a proper graphic designer to do it for you. And make sure you love it! Fyi – I can spot a cheap logo and business card a mile away!!!

Marketing material can be created in something like Canva when you’re starting out.

4. Bookkeeping and invoicing. A spreadsheet is a great starting point, but this is not a hobby. Invest in some decent software that can be with you while you grow. And also allows professionalism with proper invoices etc too. Your accountant will Thank you! Intuit QuickBooks is really affordable (I use this) and there are even free versions like Wave that can be a good starting point. Start off on the right foot, you won’t regret it!! 

And then some of the next steps…

– get your website built for you (these can start from $800 and go into the thousands depending on needs). 
– have your marketing materials created by your graphic designer.
– outsource your bookkeeping.
– join local organisations and industry associations (check out SA Woman Australia if you’re here in SA 😉, for $49 a year, you won’t regret it! You can find lots of other businesses who can help you with all of these things on the directory).
– get a mentor or coach (🙋🏼‍♀️🙋🏼‍♀️🙋🏼‍♀️. But in all seriousness, I am one of many out there. Find the right one out there that matches your needs. I would argue that this really should be in the first list, but I know that isn’t always possible).
– quit your day job 😉
– move your business outside the home, coworking spaces are a great place to start. Then you can look at your own premises and get that coffee machine. 
– outsource social media, admin, marketing etc. 
– employ staff

The list goes on!!

Businesses need time and money to soar. While you can create a business on a small budget, I believe it’s so important to get the essentials in place. What you need to invest will depend on what sort of a business you have – a product based business will have a much bigger initial outlay than a service based one. All businesses are unique and this is just a basic overview.

Start your business off on the best foot possible. See the initial outlay as an INVESTMENT to your business success, not an expense. 

So yes, you can start lean, but invest your money in the right areas first.