I started my business, The Australasian College Broadway with just $1,600. Today it has been independently valued at more than $70 million.
I’m not blowing my own trumpet, but rather trying to convince business owners that you don’t need a huge stack of funding behind you to start a business. You need to be creative, strategic, driven and determined. You also need to spend the money you do have wisely.
The following are three key tips that helped me build my business from the beginning with very little money:
1. Keep overheads down
If you can, run the business from home initially. Don’t start out by selecting a stylish office in a sought after business area with a hefty monthly rent. In the early stages, you merely need a desk, laptop and phone. There are excellent serviced offices available for meetings if required that charge an hourly rate. This is a great option in terms of portraying a professional image without getting yourself into unnecessary debt.
2. Milk those contacts
It seems like a cliché but trust me, the people you know now, can actually help build your business. Don’t be afraid to reach out to all of your contacts through family, friends, former colleagues etc. Let them know what the business is about and the services you are providing and ask if they can help you in terms of introductions. Leveraging your contacts to generate leads and new business opportunities is an excellent way to kick start a new venture
You could also consider social media as a tool to assist with this. If you’re trying to keep costs down, then create a Facebook page for your business in the interim before building a website. Share the page with your contacts and spread the word virally across social networks. LinkedIn is another great outlet that you can use for free to spread the word about your business and connect with contacts.
These tactics won’t cost a thing but will deliver results.
Another useful way to leverage contacts is to have a coffee with another business owner who can offer you advice and recommendations based on their experience of starting a business. Reach out to contacts that have been finalists or winners of business awards such as Telstra Business Women and ask them how they have achieved success. It could be the best $4 you’ll ever invest.
3. Invest wisely in infrastructure
Speaking of investments, use your funds wisely on infrastructure so you can hit the ground running from day one. Think about the essentials and purchase only these in the beginning to ensure you can do the work you need to without the extravagant niceties. These can come later, once the business starts to prosper.
Purchase the right equipment, such as a reliable and reputable laptop and printer, and ensure your mobile phone is smart enough to handle your daily business requirements. Beyond that, you shouldn’t need to spend much more to get set up.
Making money clearly requires spending money. Mistakes will happen along the way and investments will fail. We operate in a risky environment so my advice is to spend as little as possible in the beginning to safeguard yourself. Ultimately it comes down to a lot of hard work, long hours and dedication. Think creatively about how you can keep costs down while also developing the business and work towards quarterly targets.
Starting your own business and building it into a successful entity with dedicated staff and a strong brand, is one of the most rewarding things any entrepreneur could wish for.
Maureen Houssein-Mustafa OAM
Maureen is the Founder and Chairman of The Australasian College Broadway. In 2011, Maureen was recognised for her leadership in business receiving the 2011 NSW Telstra Business Women’s Award – Business Owners Category. The College is considered to be the benchmark college in Australia for hair, beauty and make-up and is a highly awarded and recognised centre for learning and educational excellence. Visit www.tac.edu.au for more information.