One of the biggest fears military spouses share with me is that they are scared starting a business will cost too much money. “How can I possibly start a business on a budget?” Forty years ago it would have been almost impossible to start a business for practically free. Now, with technology and social media, you can do it without spending thousands of dollars. The type of business you start will dictate how much money you will need to spend on your business. Today, I’m going to share with you the military spouse guide to starting a business on a budget.
The first step to starting a business on a budget is to determine the type of business you want to start.
When you create a business based on your unique gifts, skills, and expertise, you have the ability to customize your product and service offerings. You get to decide who you want to serve, who you want to make an impact on, and who you genuinely want to do business with. Starting your own business allows you the flexibility to spend your money on what matters most to you. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You can begin selling your products and/or services with relatively little upfront costs and some none at all.
If your idea involves a storefront, often called a brick and mortar establishment, then you’re going to need to spend a great deal of money purchasing or renting the building to house your business. Instead, whatever you wanted to sell inside of the storefront, you could bring it online where people can purchase electronically. Then, you can either ship it or deliver your goods or services. The only costs of starting an online boutique are the creation of your website, the cost of the products for your business, and the fees to legally register your business.
There are four types of businesses that will allow you the freedom to work from home and from any duty station.
1. Physical product based business
A physical product based business requires more money to be spent up front. Generally, buying the products at wholesale or purchasing the materials to make your products make up the bulk of these costs. Make sure you source your goods or materials well so that you can get them at the lowest price possible without getting shortchanged on the quality. This will require research into suppliers. You can find a ton of suppliers on ThomasNet.com (for domestic sources) and Alibaba.com (for overseas directories). Keeping your product costs low will help increase profit for your business.
2. Service-based business
A service-based business is generally the cheapest form of business to start. This includes businesses such as coaching, consulting, freelancing, and any done-for-you services. The cost involved is usually your time. You can begin offering your services immediately by letting people know about your business for free via social media. Create a Facebook page, Instagram account, join a few groups on Facebook and let people know about your services. Or, you can call up potential clients to see if they’d like to meet or you can email to set up a time to chat. You don’t even need a website to start. If your services require expenditures on equipment to get started, check local sales groups to see if you can buy the equipment used. In the future, you can always upgrade your equipment after you’ve had a few customers.
3. Digital product based business
Another type of business to create on a budget is a digital product based business, also called information products. Digital products include eBooks, eCourses, eGuides, video training programs, and membership sites. With this type of business, you can bottle up your knowledge and put it into a format that can be sold online. To sell digital products, you’ll need to have a computer to create your products. Don’t have a laptop, head to the library. You can create an eBook with Word and save as a PDF. Or, you can create a video training program by recording videos with your smartphone. Then, you can sell your digital goods on your own website or through websites such as GumRoad.com, SendOwl.com or sell your online course through companies such as Teachable.com or Teachery.co. These are great options to start a business on a budget.
4. Blogging as a business
Blogging as a business is also a budget-friendly business. It is super inexpensive to start a blog. If you are seriously considering blogging as a business, I recommend buying your domain name (Usually under $14.99), starting your blog for free at WordPress.org (That’s WordPress.ORG, not WordPress.COM) and buying a hosting plan which will run you between $3.95-$8 per month. You can even use a FREE theme (which is the design of how your site looks). If you want a premium theme for your blog, it will cost you a little more. However, for as little as $3.95 per month, you can launch your blogging business.
What about the legal fees?
To set yourself up legally, there may be fees involved at the city and state level. These fees are all contingent on where you live and what type of business you have. Some states have very low fees and others higher. A great way to determine these fees is to visit your state Board of Equalization website or check out Small Business Administration and they will provide you with what you need to know. Don’t let the legal set up process slow you down. You can always start, and then adjust your legal structure as your business grows
My biggest advice for starting a business on a budget is to get out there and start selling your products and services NOW.
Use social media to let people know what you have to offer. It’s FREE. Use local buy, sell, trade groups to sell locally. Pick up the phone, call potential customers, and ask for an appointment to meet with them. You can even send invoices for free using PayPal. You can build a website, purchase more materials or get the advanced technology to help you grow your business after you generate more sales.
Obtain all of the FREE information you can.
Out there in Internet-land, there is LOADS of free material at your fingertips. You can find so many great videos, blog posts, and articles jam-packed with information to help you grow your business. YouTube and Pinterest are my go-to for quick tips. If want to fast-track the learning curve to starting your own business, be sure to dive right in. Grab one of my free resources and classes here to start your business.