Many of us have come up with an amazing business idea that we’d love to pursue, but are unable to make our dreams become a reality. Because the fact is, starting a business costs money. And when it comes down to it, the idea of giving up your safe, steady income to set up a risky new business venture can be overwhelming and scary.
But starting a new business doesn’t have to cost the earth. And depending on what you choose to do – you don’t necessarily have to quit your job and risk your mortgage just to try something new. If you’re on a tight budget and aren’t ready to throw caution to the wind, there are some safe, easy ways to slowly ease into the world of entrepreneurship by building your brand on a budget.
#1. Be clear about brand’s focus and purpose
It almost goes without saying that the first step in building your new business is research; you need to be absolutely certain that what you’re offering doesn’t already exist. Or at the very least, that you’re providing a new twist on an existing offering. Take the time to research your competitors and understand where your potential business sits in the marketplace. And don’t just research competitors in Australia. Research internationally as well. Are there similar businesses overseas? Has it worked? What made it successful and would that translate here? These are all essential things to look into before you get started and won’t cost you a cent.
#2. Be wise with your investment
Building a business takes time and money. So if you’re short on funds, you’re going to need more time and do as much DIY as you can. Know how to build a website? Great! Know how to design a logo? Even better! The trick is to know what you can do yourself, what you’ll need to outsource, and what you could probably live without in the beginning.
The best plan of attack will be to write down a list of everything you’ll need; a website, logo, marketing, advertising, a shop front or office, software, hardware, licensing, insurance – everything you can imagine. Then, from that list, work out what you can take care of yourself and what you’ll need to purchase or hire someone else to do.
Then, set up a timeline and work out when each of these things needs to be done by. By breaking down your financial investment into bite size chunks, it turns the overwhelming task of setting up a new business into a much more manageable activity. This way you can more easily budget for the things you need to outsource and get things done in your own time.
#3. Defining the brand essence
Once you’ve got your logistics figured out, you’ll need to understand what your brand stands for; what is its essence? It will always depend on the kind of business you’re creating, but essentially, the brand essence lies within you, the business owner.
Often the most successful businesses have really interesting stories of how they came about, because they talk to a specific need and how their business idea solves a particular problem. So when you’re looking at what the essence of your brand is, it’s important to understand your story – why have you come up with this idea? What solution has your business filled? Who does this business appeal to? Knowing this doesn’t cost you money. But it will make a huge difference as to whether or not your business is successful.
#4. Creating advocates for your brand
In the digital age, social media is the new word of mouth. No longer do happy (or unhappy) customers simply tell a few of their friends about their experiences with your brand, they can inevitably tell hundreds, if not thousands, of others about your brand. It’s never been more important to create happy customers, because happy customers can be moved to share their experiences through social media and become strong advocates for your brand.
Sure, some social influencers can cost an arm and a leg if you want them spruiking your products. But when you’re building your brand on a budget, having happy customers singing your praises on social media, no matter how small their following, can really help spread positive word of mouth. So encourage this by making sure your customers interact with your brand on social media by offering them incentives, like competitions where they can win small prizes, or sharing their posts via your accounts. This is an extension of your customer service, and you’ll be surprised just how well you can help build your brand if you do this one thing well.
Building a business doesn’t have to cost the earth. It might take longer to get up and running if you don’t have the cash up front, but it’s perfectly fine to go at your own pace. The most important thing to remember is, if you have a great business idea, just go for it! Once you get the ball rolling you’ll soon find you won’t be able to stop! So don’t let a small budget put you off – there are so many ways you can set up your brand on a shoe string. All you have to do is get started.