Starting a Small Business on a Budget
Updated: Aug 18
If you've always had a desire to own a small business but age, lack of financial security, or practicality has ever got in your way, this blog post is for you.
What Makes You Come Alive?
What is that one thing that when you do it you feel like your truest self? The thing that causes you to feel a spark and passion for life? What are you good at? and finally, What do you want to do?
You need to define these things before embarking on starting a business. This will give you a reason and a motivation for starting the laborious process of owning a business. I advise you to write the answers to these down. You can use this as the thesis statement for your business in a way. A compass if you're unsure which direction to go, you can come back to this list of passions and talents and your overall goal to see if a decision or direction gets you closer or further from that list.
Write A Business Plan
A business plan is basically a large umbrella of a lot of things. Here's a checklist of what you want to include in a business plan;
Start Up Expenses
A business plan not only helps you wrap your head around the reality of everything a business encompasses, but it helps define and refine your direction and goal for your business, and what you need to do and get to make it happen! A business plan is required when applying for loans, but we didn't even apply for a loan and the business plan helped us stay on track. If you'd like more help making your business plan, enroll in our e course for small business startups! (Especially you Coffee Carts!)
Save, Save, Save
Yea I know, boring. But necessary. If you are applying for a loan you can skip this part, but you'll probably wish later that you would have heard me out ;)
Starting a business without a loan is scary, but totally possible. I highly recommend starting a business without a loan by keeping it small, and bare bones. Upgrading and growing as your able to as a business. Not only does it keep the excitement alive but also it feels a whole lot more rewarding.
Now that you have the business plan you have an entire comprehensive list with $ amounts of everything you need to start your business. This is where a super handy app called Oportun comes in. Oportun is a saving app thats FDIC insured and it basically saves for you in a separate account- outta sight, outta mind. You can pull your funds out at any time (its your money after all) and it helps you easily reach financial saving goals without having to think about it / compromise your current financial responsibilities.
No this isn't an ad, I just really love this app and it made it possible for us to save to start a business without a loan, AND go on a family trip this month. WOO! Here's a link to $5 to kick off your business venture.
Once you have Oportun, make a saving category for everything on your list and set your dollar amount goals. Once the goal is reached you'll get a notification and you can start the next step- shooopppppiinnggg!
Now that those things are in motion this is the exciting part- doing it. If you are starting a business that requires a lot of equipment (i.e. a coffee cart) This is when you need to start shopping. Check frequently on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Garage sales, Thrift stores, etc. The main goal of starting a business on a budget is to do exactly that- be flexible and willing to fix something up to save money here & there. It all adds up! As you find deals, pull the trigger and start buying. Slowly accumulate everything you need, and once you start to do that you'll get a better idea of when you can proceed with making it legal and ultimately when you will get to open your business!
coffee break because we're about to get into the legal stuff
The Legal Stuff
Okay this is something i'm barely qualified to talk about because google held my hand through this whole legal process of starting a business. Basically if you want a successful business you HAVE to do it the right way. So please do adequate research and follow through will all of the ridiculous fees and requirements because they are necessary for owning a business! They all vary state by state but the basic things you'll need to look into are;
1. A business name thats not taken
2. Getting a DBA secured
3. An E.I.N. #
4. Whether you're an LLC or a Sole Proprietor
5. Local business requirements (health dept., town requirements, etc.)
6. Bank Account for Business
7. Accountant/ Accounting Software
Once you have your grounding start applying and all of the paperwork because it takes anywhere from a week-a couple of months for all of this stuff to get worked out. Be patient, these are the birthing pains of your business about to come to fruition!
Social Media & Branding
Now that you have a better idea of when you'll open for business, start brainstorming branding ideas. Hire a graphic designer or design yourself for multiple mockups for a logo, business card, color scheme, etc. THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT. You want to have a brand that captures the essence of you & your business, and you don't want to have to rebrand every season when the trends and cultural tides change. Start with colors you like, something simple to conveys what your business is about/does and play with fonts until you find something timeless and matching with the vision.
After securing the legal side of owning a business & simmering on a few branding ideas select the one that fits and start building a website & social media accounts and content. Wait to build hype for the business until you have a set open date, then go HARD with the hype building. We are talking giveaways, engaging content and sneak peeks of what people can expect. Direct people to your website, and encourage people to share in the beginnings and behind the scenes of your business opening.
Open For Business
Now it's time to get vulnerable, to open your business and share with the world the thing you've created. Humbly accept constructive criticism and hold dearly to encouraging words and compliments you receive. Brush off hateful words, and feed off of love and support. Care for your customers yet don't cater to them, be wise with the profit you make and give back when you can.
You'll do great. <3
-Your new friend and unqualified business advisor, Abbie :)
If you'd love even more in depth information going into everything I mentioned above and more, take our ecourse here!