How Do You Start or Run a Business on a Shoestring Budget?

This is a pretty common question, simply because most of us who’re starting businesses don’t have access to a trust fund. The good news is that if you’re starting an online business, such as an info product business, you can do it on a shoestring.

Check out this cheat sheet full of ideas for both raising the funds and saving money on expenses…

Raising Funds

Crowdfunding: One way to get the cash you need is through popular business funding sites such as IndieGoGo.com and Kickstarter.com. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Build your business first. Contributors want to see that you’ve invested your own time and money before you ask others to invest money.
  • Showcase your passion. Videos work really well to show your enthusiasm, as well as demo the product.
  • Model success. Look at popular projects on these sites to see what works. For example, you’ll see that popular projects usually have good rewards and they make contributors feel like they’re a part of something special.

Loans: Getting a loan shouldn’t be your first choice so that you don’t end up in the red before you even get started. But if you do need to get a loan, consider these sources:

  • Friends and family. Ask multiple people for small loans, and sign an IOU that states exactly when and how you’ll pay the loan back.
  • Shop locally. Check with your local bank or credit union to see what sorts of rates they can offer you. You may get better rates if you take out a secured loan (where you put something valuable up as collateral).
  • Go online. Check out sites like Prosper.com, which is a crowdlending platform.

TIP: Avoid using credit cards for this purpose, as the rates tend to be extraordinarily high.

Selling products: Sure, you can make and sell products for this purpose, but that essentially is starting a business. So for this strategy, we’re referring to sell unwanted items to raise cash fast. For small (shippable) items you can use eBay.com. For large items that you want to sell locally, try CraigsList.org.

Moonlighting: The idea here is to sell services part time to raise cash. The reason to choose services (rather than selling products) is because you can set up and be in business rapidly since. Indeed, you can literally start accepting clients in a few hours from now.

TIP: Offer your services on freelancing sites such as Elance.com and UpWork.com. You can also offer them directly to other small business owners.

Saving Money On Expenses

Bartering: Instead of paying cash for a service or product, you might ask the vendor if they’d consider a swap. For example, if you hire a web designer, you might ask them if they’d trade their web design skills for your writing services.

Look for free products: There are multiple ways to get free products that work as well as the more expensive alternatives. For example:

  • Volunteer to beta test upcoming software.
  • Look for “freemium” versions of software.
  • Check out open source versions of software.

TIP: Find alternatives by searching Google. For example, if you’re looking for a PowerPoint™ alternative, you might search for “free PowerPoint alternative” or even “free slideshare presentation software.”

Making use of free trials: Sometimes you may only need a product for a short while, in which case you can take advantage of free trials.

TIP: Even if you intend to use the software over the long term, taking advantage of a free trial will save you a few bucks on recurring billing products and services (such as autoresponder fees).

Searching for sales: Never pay full price! Before you purchase a product, search for coupons and sales. You may also directly approach the vendor to inquire about discounts.

Miscellaneous Tips

Don’t give up your day job. This is a great source of funding for your business.

Reinvest your profits. Even once your business starts making money, you may want to hang on to that day job. That way you can continue reinvesting your business profits directly back into your business. This is a good way to create faster business growth.

Get off to a good start. In order to have profits to reinvest, you need to be sure your business gets off to a profitable start.

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