Starting a business on a small budget, whilst presenting a professional image is entirely possible.
One of the main reasons people hesitate to start a business is the fear of high financial start-up costs.
However, some businesses you can start with little or no start-up fund. For example, to start an online business, you may already have all the equipment you need, such as a computer, internet connection and a mobile phone.
For others, there may be the need for a larger financial outlay to cover the costs of premises, machinery and specialist tools, for example.
Here are my tips to present a professional image when starting a business on a budget:
Purchase a Domain
There’s number of reasons to buy a domain when starting a business. Especially if you want your business to look professional in the eyes of your potential customers. Purchasing your domain shows that you are invested in the success of your business venture.
If you plan on starting a blog or creating a website quickly, it may be tempting to opt for a free domain such as www.mynewbusiness.wordpress.com. However, it always looks more professional to have your own domain ie www.mynewbusiness.com.
Here in the UK, purchasing a domain can typically cost £10 – £20. For such a small cost is it really worth putting your new businesses reputation at risk?
I recommend Namecheap for a simple, low cost and professional service.
Shop Around for Web Hosting
Domain registrars will always offer you a hosting package, but those deals are not always the most cost effective. Before committing to any particular hosting package, do some research, ask people you know for recommendations and read online reviews.
Key things you’ll want to research is what their percentage of down-time is and how long customer service responses take. If you have an emergency with your site, you don’t want to wait days for an answer.
I personally use Siteground and can highly recommend their hosting services. They also have great start-up hosting package that is inexpensive and perfect for new businesses.
Set up a Professional Email
This is another great reason to purchase your own domain in the early days of your business.
An email from firstname.lastname@example.org screams unprofessional and some may consider cheap. Your email may be flagged as spam. Or worst still people may not even open your emails, suspecting them to be from an alleged Nigerian prince, promising to make them rich beyond their wildest dreams.
Emails from unknown addresses are very often ignored. Whereas, sending an email from a registered business account provides an extra level of assurance for your intended recipients.
Once you have bought your domain and set up web hosting, it’s relatively simple to set up your business email. Most providers will offer a simple tutorial to walk you through the necessary steps.
There are a wide variety of email service providers (both free and paid) that you can use to access your professional email account.
I recommend Google Workspace (previously G-Suite). The ‘Business Starter‘ package is both suitable and affordable for most small businesses. It costs less than £5 per month and they are currently offering a free 14-day trial.
Invest in an Email Marketing Tool
This is probably one of the most important tools for any small business. It is an email service provider that stores the email addresses (sometimes referred to as a mailing list, subscriber list, customer database, etc) of your past/present/potential customers. You can then use the system to communicate regularly with your list, such as sending a regular newsletter or sharing any promotions you may be running, and much more.
Some platforms are free up until you reach a certain number of list subscribers. Others are free based on how many emails you send each month. Do your research carefully because free platforms usually offer limited functionality and can also have more rules and regulations to follow. My advice is to choose a platform that matches your budget but also have a plan to use this tool. Growing your list should be a continuous cycle so you can stay in touch with prospects and customers. You just never know when a prospect will make a purchase and move to customer status, so staying in touch is essential.
I recommend Mailerlite – for its ease of use and the level of functionality available, even on the free plan. They also offer a selection of webinars to help you make the most of the software.
Create a Business Brand
When you’re building a website and creating any graphics for your site, products or social media it’s recommended to use consistent branding.
Two elements of your business branding could be:
- a Style-guide – A basic A4 document that states the specific styles of your branding. Such as text formats, fonts and colours.
- a Pinterest brand board – to provide guidelines for the business image you want to portray. Add photos, textures emotions, etc that resonate with you and your ideal customers.
Both of these ideas are really simple to set up and offer an easy reference of your business brand.
You can also use these styles in your promotional materials as well as on your website and in your social media profiles to help you stay consistent with your branding throughout your whole business.
Starting a business doesn’t need to cost a fortune. And it’s entirely possible to present a professional image on a limited budget.
What you do need is enough finances to support your plan and get you launched without having to stress over financial worries. This will all depend on your individual circumstances, the type of business you are starting and the business model you will be using.
If you want to learn more about starting a business and all that it entails, register below for my next FREE Masterclass.
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