It’s hard to start a business without thinking about the bottom line. Whether you’re looking for investors, pitching venture capitalists or just using your own spare funds, you’ve got to find the money somehow — and you’ve got to have a plan to keep the money coming in.
Starting a business isn’t easy, but research shows that it is becoming more popular. For the first time in five years, startup activity has risen this year, according to the Kauffman Index, an annual study of startup trends. As more businesses are launching and more startups are growing, there are some essential strategies for entrepreneurs to keep in mind in order to keep costs down.
- Try an incubator space.
Incubator spaces help entrepreneurs save money on overhead costs by providing office space and supplies for a steep discount. Each incubator program is different, but they all over some serious cost-cutting perks for startups. One such program, Local Works, provides workspace and resources for entrepreneurs in Charleston, South Carolina. Local Works offers its members workspaces and meeting spaces, as well as typical office amenities, like a lounge area. Full-time members have 24-hour access to the building. Local Works serves a wide variety of businesses, ranging from a green roof design company to an innovative water heater brand.
In addition to offering a low-cost place to set up shop, incubators typically offer the opportunity to collaborate with other entrepreneurs in the community. Starting a business takes long hours and at least a little trial and error, so bouncing ideas off peers and sharing best practices can be a great way to stay motivated and stay on track.
- Build a strong social media presence.
One of the biggest things that separate big businesses from startups is advertising budgets. National chains have the buying power to place ads in every market and on every platform; small businesses and startups rarely have that option. Fortunately, social media is a cost-effective place to start getting the word out about your business. It doesn’t cost anything to have a social media presence, and the time you spend building that presence can be well worth it. Social media allows businesses to tell their stories, to build brand loyalty among fans and to start a conversation with potential customers.
If you do choose to use paid advertising, social media advertising is often cheaper than traditional advertising. On sites like Facebook and Twitter, you set a budget for your ad, and it displays to appropriate audiences until you’ve reached your maximum spend for the day. It’s a startup-friendly way to begin advertising without investing more than you can afford while you’re still launching.
There are also startup- and small-business-friendly tools that can help make social media advertising hassle-free. PagePart, an Independent We Stand partner organization, provides simple templates and prompts to help you create the ad and uses market-specific best practices to help you optimize its targeting and reach. PagePart also provides data-driven feedback so that you can analyze your ad’s performance without having to crunch the numbers yourself.
- Know your tax deductions.
Did you know that you could deduct up to $25,000 of certain big-ticket items if you own your own business? The Section 179 deduction allows small business owners to deduct the cost of items like computers, machinery and furniture in the year that they are purchased for business use. Once you launch your own business, it’s important to know how you can save money on taxes.
- Do the tech work yourself.
In this day and age, it’s vital not only to be on social media as a business, but also to have a fully functioning website. The Internet has far and away become the main source that people turn to in order to find information on local businesses and services. It’s important to have a website, but you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for one if you can’t build one yourself. There are lots of easy-to-use and affordable tools for designing, launching and managing a website. For example, PagePart takes your business’s Facebook page and turns it into a website. It also gives you access to analytics that can tell you how users are engaging with your site.
Many of these tools, including PagePart, also help make your website mobile-friendly. Mobile search traffic is becoming more and more important to local businesses as smartphones become more ubiquitous. In fact, as many as 50 percent of consumers who search for local businesses on a smartphone visit the business within a day. Mobile devices have smaller screens and different resolutions than laptops and desktop computers, which means that websites look and function differently on these devices. Having a mobile-friendly website will make your web presence more user-friendly for consumers.
PagePart makes websites that are mobile-friendly. In this way, you can get a professional and mobile-friendly website in one fell swoop — and all it takes is a Facebook page. If you already have a website and need to make sure it’s mobile-friendly, you can use a variety of similar tools.
Starting a business is a risky venture by nature, so it’s important to save money wherever you can. When it comes time to find a workspace, develop an advertising strategy, file your taxes and launch a website, leverage tools that are designed specifically for small businesses and startups in order to find success.
Independent We Stand is dedicated to helping independent businesses across the country engage their communities and encouraging customers to buy local. If you’re a business owner, get buy local resources, tips and news by registering for a business membership. Your business will also be included in our ‘locals only’ search engine and mobile app. If you’re a consumer, take the pledge to buy local to join the movement.