Moving from the corporate world to my own business has taken a significant adjustment. My deep desire to have my own business overshadowed the abundance of support I received in my corporate job. Nonetheless my passion for having “my own thing” and the fulfillment I get from helping other women entrepreneurs is worth every photocopier, scanner, IT guy, finance team, human resource department, expense account, software program, and lavish lunch in the country. There are many treasures in the corporate world that came with the job, but now are at a cost in running my own business.
I have found several ways to save money in my business. I want to share these with you so you avoid making the same mistakes and wasting thousands of dollars figuring it out.
You know what that money could have done? Certainly help me be successful more quickly. I wish I had been open to these ideas, but I had to learn the hard way. I definitely value learning from others mistakes to keep from making them myself. In this case I didn’t know what I didn’t know… now I know and you will too. Here’s my gift to you…3 ways for you to save money during the launch of your new business!
Test Before You Buy! I signed up for every system I thought I needed because I heard successful entrepreneurs using these same systems. There were shopping carts, customer relations management systems, project management tools, marketing automation platforms, teleconferencing, webinar hosting, and video conferencing to name a few. I was overwhelmed and could barely use any of them. Save yourself time and money and try a few of these as tests to see what you like and what is easy for you to use. If no test is available, sign up for a shorter term. It may cost you more in the short-run, but if you never use it, it will end up costing more (just like that gym membership I’ve had for years!).
- Get a free or low-cost website. You can always upgrade. Unless you are strictly an e-commerce business, then having a basic website so your potential customers know you are legitimate is all you need for starters. Save yourself time and money and pay a college student who is studying web design to create it for you. The Art Institute has these students around the country. You may need to be more searchable later, but for starters it’s enough to get you going while you create your products or services.
- Use FreeConferenceCall.com. It’s free and super easy to use. Until you grow your business, it’s a great resource. You can record your conversations and offer playbacks, and you can start an audio library of resources for future programs or as free offer for subscribing to your email list.
- Use EventBrite as your shopping cart and link it to Paypal. There are small fees for both of these, but they are nominal for starters and based on the amount of your transactions. I had a shopping cart that was a set monthly fee and too complex to figure out how to use it. Eventually you can move to a more robust system as your business grows.
- Use Constant Contact or Survey Monkey to manage your customers. It’s free until you grow your list. Once you grow your list, you can afford a program with more bells and whistles.
Hire a Business Coach! This may seem counter-intuitive, however, hiring a coach was the smartest decision I made for my business. A coach knows the money-sucking, time-wasting mistakes you will make in your business (and trust me, you’ll make them). She will keep you focused, help you in the right direction, and move your business along faster than you can on your own. Plus, you dial into a whole network of other business owners like you who you can share ideas with and who might become customers of your own. Here are some tips to hiring a coach because I don’t want you to do what I did and follow my heart, jump in with both feet, choose the wrong coach and waste a small fortune on nothing.
- Research at least 3 coaches to ensure they have what you need. Make sure the coach you’re considering has experience with your type of business. Ask questions about how they can help you, what they like to do most, what are they best at, and how have they helped other businesses just like yours become successful. Ask how was success measured? Prepare a list of 10-20 questions, (Click Here for a downloadable list), of what’s important to you. Interview at least 3 coaches with the same questions. Get at least 3 names of current clients of theirs and interview them too. Ask to attend a complimentary tele-class, webinar, or a live event (this is the BEST WAY). Make the decision based on your heart AND your mind.
- Ask your business friends for a referral. Referrals from your current business associates will help you cut through the clutter of thousands of business coaches available. They will find you online, Facebook, email, and I’m sure other clever ways. Getting referrals from friends who work with a coach is a great way to ensure you have the right fit. NOTE: make sure your friend has actually worked with the coach. My first experience was a referral, unfortunately, my friend had not worked with this particular coach and I wasted away valuable dollars. Definitely interview any referrals too.
- Find a coach in your proximity. Everyone may not agree with me here, but I find a coach that is in traveling distance, who I can have in-person 1:1 time, is the absolute best investment. I will drive 2 hours to meet with one of my coaches, and the time I get is extremely valuable. There is something about in-person meetings because you get the energy and interpersonal communication you do not get on the phone. Now, here are a few exceptions:
- You have previous experience with this coach. For example, one of my clients is in Germany. She is a friend of mine from a long time ago, so that works.
- You are in driving distance or you can easily fly to attend one of her live events. I would hire a coach if she had a live event in a city that was easy for me to fly to and I could get 1:1 or group time with the coach during my trip.
- She has a unique specialty that you cannot get elsewhere. If your needs are not met by someone within proximity, then it is perfectly acceptable to hire someone you cannot meet in person.
- Determine what type of help you need before you hire a coach. Your business may need help in many areas, including: operations, finance, sales and marketing, administration, and management. You may also need help psychologically with your confidence, money-blocks, and health. You may be an expert in a field, but your time could be better served elsewhere. For example, perhaps you are an expert in marketing. You should have a marketing coach! Why? Because you need a second set of eyes to see your business from an objective view and because often we are better at seeing ways to help our clients than we are at helping ourselves. A sales, marketing or business strategy coach is the best place to start because they generally have a team who helps with the other areas of business too.
Get a Virtual Assistant! If you want to save money, BIG TIME, then hire a VA. Same rules apply as they do for coaches (see above) with the exception that your VA does not need to be in your proximity. It is probably best if she is in the same country and possibly in your time zone. You can waste hours of time doing work that does not get your business light-speed ahead. I have several assistants now and while I’m writing this value article for you, they are posting my blogs, ensuring my website is up-to-date, updating my speaker sheet with my new programs, creating fliers for my Positively Successful Retreat for Women and so much more. See how your productivity can soar? Again, make sure your VA is doing the work you need. If you follow the first list above, you can choose your VA by determining if she has experience with the suggested programs and can help you migrate into more complex systems when the time is right. A good place to start is a Virtual Assistant who works with your business coach. She will understand your business and strategy the best.
Bonus Tip! Take a sales and marketing course or two or three or four. You’re starting your own business, by all means, you need help getting the message out there to your future customers. There is no truth in the phrase “if you build it, they will come.” No, you need to build it right and let people know you are building it before they can even consider coming to you.
For more helpful tips, please visit my website and sign up for your FREE GIFT, 7 Tips to Help You Get More Customers webinar.
About the author: Jennifer “is a powerful, enlightening, positive force to be around!” Jennifer Darling is a business growth coach. She has worked with 1,000s of small businesses in strategic planning to help them grow. She is the creator of 7 Steps to Positively Simple Sale and 7 Secrets to Positively Effective Leadership Jennifer possesses 20 years in sales, marketing, leadership and personal development for companies such as FOX, NBC, CBS, and Comcast. She holds a Master’s Degree in Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising & Promotion. Visit her website at www.jenniferdarlingspeaks.com.