People always tell us: ‘I’d love to work for myself, but I don’t have the money’. It’s true that starting a business can be costly especially if the business you are starting requires a lot of equipment, a large premises, stock, a team of people, transport, infrastructure etc but there are opportunities to start a small business on a relatively small budget and in fact, most of the new businesses we work with in Dungannon are doing just that!
What’s important to remember is that just because you start small, doesn’t mean you have to stay small. By starting your business on a budget, you enable the business to keep costs low so that the business will have money to invest in growth. The first thing I would say to someone toying with the notion of starting a business, is to think of a business based around the skills set and experience you already have. If you’ve been in an industry where you need to buy stock or capital, you can use your connections to secure credit terms or discounts. Or, if you have a service-based skillset, starting a business in that area will mean you don’t need to splash out on stock, premises or equipment.
Decide if you want to be engaged in ‘business’ or ‘busyness’. You will be responsible for all aspects of the business from securing customers, carrying out the work, to cleaning up. Many new business owners find themselves increasingly busy and overwhelmed. I would say to ask yourself ‘is what I’m doing contributing to my bottom line?’ If the answer to this is no, then don’t do it. Instead, use friends, family and other contacts and outsource where as possible. Time is money. Can you run your business from home – a spare room, the kitchen table, a garage or shed, saving the need for rental overheads? If not, there are low-cost options to explore including co-working space, sharing workspace with another business and sharing the rental costs, or locating your business in a more rural area where rental costs are lower. Dungannon Enterprise Centre offers cost effective hot desks and Magherafelt has the new HIVE Co-Working space.
When it comes to marketing your business, digital and social media have helped make marketing more cost effective for small businesses. By creating relevant and engaging content on social media you build awareness for free; social media ads allow you to create specifically targeted ads giving you more value for money and using equipment you already own like your smart phone to create marketing content keeps costs down. The rise in ‘build your own’ website platforms like WordPress means that many small businesses can create an online presence with a basic website while just paying hosting fees, and websites like Canva make it easy for small business owners to create their own posters, logos, business cards, email templates etc completely free. There are lots of workshops and networking events across Mid Ulster to help new businesses learn how to take advantage of these digital innovations and I’d suggest keeping an eye on Eventbrite for upcoming events.
So, there are opportunities for new small business owners to get their business off the ground as cost effectively as possible. Get in touch with Dungannon Enterprise Centre to see how you could start your own low-cost business.