Shoestring Creativity: How to Launch Your Product on a Budget
 
No matter how much money you have to start your business, it will  never seem like enough. Different types of businesses require different  levels of funding to get off the ground.

When you have limited money it takes more creativity and time to get  things moving but it can be done. For service businesses, often a  computer and some business cards and some basic supplies can get you  started. Product businesses are a little harder to start with only a  little money. Without significant startup money it would be hard to  manufacture overseas but you could probably find a manufacturer in the  United States that will work with you on lower volumes. You may have to  pay a little more per unit but you can keep your overall cost down.

Other money saving ideas:

  • Work from home rather than renting an office space.
  • Use free boxes from shippers like the USPS to keep shipping fees down.
  • Ask family and friends for extra packing supplies. Many people throw  away bubble wrap and packing paper. Ask if you can have it instead.
  • Enroll in savings and ink recycling plans at office supply stores.
  • Search for your supplies online at different stores. For example,  Walmart and Target carry many office supplies online that they don’t  carry in the stores. Often, their online prices are lower than you can  find locally.
  • Print business cards, stationery and brochures yourself. You will  avoid minimum quantities. As you are starting a business you will want  to tweak your marketing materials fairly often. If you can print small  batches yourself, you will be able to make those changes more  effectively than if you have to use up 250 brochures before you can  print more.
  • If you are starting your business by yourself, consider hiring a  virtual assistant to proof read materials before you send it to a  printer. Their hourly fee is certainly less than the cost of a print run  that you must reproduce because of a typing error.
  • Use services like SCORE for free business advice.
  • Start as a service business then add product sales. Service  businesses, like marketing, web design and public relations consulting,  are easier to start on a limited budget than a product business. For  service businesses, often a computer, business cards and some basic  office supplies can get you started. If you want to start selling  products, add them to the business after the service aspects are  established and profitable.
  • Bartering is one of the best ways to get the items you need for a  business. You may offer a website designer your services for free and  they will then help you develop your website at no cost.Look for local  community small business groups to join. Often groups are eligible for  reduced fees at other businesses.
  • Buy used or refurbished office equipment.
  • Pay your bills online and use online shipping to enjoy discounted postage rates.
  • Review your bills regularly and look for ways to combine services. For example, we use Ring Central (ringcentral.com)  for our toll free number for Mini Me Geology. We were able to eliminate  our local business telephone service by adding our local business  number to Ring Central for only five dollars per month. Ring Central  also accepts faxes electronically, which saves us the cost of paper and  ink.
  • Find a few, high quality vendors to save on shipping costs. If you  can purchase all of your office and shipping supplies from one vendor  rather than two or three you can save on shipping fees and ordering  time.
  • Purchase business checks from private printers rather than directly from the bank.
  • Gather bids from at least three vendors when you are locating a new  source for a particular product, part or service. Let the vendors know  that you are receiving multiple bids so that they can offer their best  price. Once you find a quality vendor, stick with them for the long term  if possible.
  • If you own a brick and mortar store, share advertising with neighboring businesses to cut the cost.

If you have other money saving tips as you start your business that  we should add to this list. We’d love to hear them in the comments.