When you run your own business, especially when you're just starting out, you're aware that you need to save money where you can. You want to be sensible with your money until you’re making a profit, so naturally there are some costs you can hold off on for now.
However, there are a few things that are worth forking out for at the start of your entrepreneurial journey. They’ll often help you to grow your business and save you money down the line, so really what you're doing is investing in the future of your business rather than spending money you won't get back.
A reliable computer
Now, you probably already have a computer. You’re probably reading this on a computer. So forgive me for stating this very obvious component for starting a business, particularly in the digital age we live in.
However, if you currently use a really old or slow computer, you might want to think about upgrading, particularly if you rely on it for work, or at least put some money aside in case it breaks.
If you use an unreliable computer and it stops working suddenly, you could be unable to work for a period of time or even lose your work forever. So make sure you're well prepared in case this happens, and make sure you back up your work, just in case!
One of the most important things for building a successful business is a good online presence. When I need something, be it a plumber or a new eyeliner, the first thing I do is a bit of research on the web.
Your website is often the first thing that a potential customer will see of you, so you need to make it attractive to your ideal clients to give a good impression of the products or services you offer.
It’s well worth investing in a domain name (e.g. .com or .co.uk) as it gives a much more professional impression of your business than something like www.yourbiz.wixsite.com.
If you're building your website yourself, you may want to use a website builder like Wix or Squarespace to create your own website. They make it super simple to create and tweak your website if you aren’t a coding pro, and they usually have offers where you can also purchase your domain name, email address and other extras in one tidy package which is often cheaper and easier than buying them separately.
Depending on how much you'll enjoy creating a website, and how much time you have, you may wish to hire a designer to create your website and branding. It’s a pricey investment, but you’ll stand out and it will most likely pay you back tenfold. I love Gatto, Cat's designs are so beautiful and very reasonably priced.
Woo, exciting! Not. However, definitely make sure you get professional indemnity insurance if you offer advice or professional services. You might be the number one pro in your chosen profession, but everyone makes mistakes and if you do, it could cost you dearly.
Professional indemnity insurance will cover you for compensation and legal costs in the case of something going horribly wrong. You do not want to be paying that out of your own pocket.
You should also make sure any equipment you rely on to work is insured, for obvious reasons.
Simply Business is an excellent comparison site for getting quotes for both of these kinds of insurance, as they ask a series of questions about your business to get you quotes from insurers who can offer you the type of insurance you need. AXA Business Insurance is another great option; you can tailor your insurance policy to suit your requirements.
It's also a good idea to check whether you need to declare your business to any professional or public bodies and how much this costs (yes, you get charged for being responsible) - for example, if you process your customers' personal information you'll need to register with the ICO.
You probably know by now that running your own business is so, so much more than just doing what your business offers every day.
It’s being active on social media, marketing, advertising, staying in touch with clients, staying on top of multiple to-do lists…it can be exhausting and take time away from what you actually set up shop on your own to do.
Automation is a fantastic solution to this, especially for social media. I use Buffer for our Twitter and Facebook, which I recommend and it’s free if you want to schedule up to 10 posts at a time across multiple platforms, or you can upgrade to schedule up to 100 posts at a time for $10 a month (at the time of writing, that’s £7.40 a month).
You can also automate the emails you send out to your mailing list, create automated sales funnels, use Tailwind to help with traffic from Pinterest if you’re a blogger, pretty much all marketing, really. You could even take it one step further and simply outsource these things to someone else.
Why is this worth paying for? Well, marketing is probably the main way to get your business out there and attract new customers. A successful marketing automation will keep a flow of potential customers coming to your business, so it's worth taking time to research what will work for your business and how you can fit it into your business.
Whether it’s through becoming a member of a community of entrepreneurs in your chosen sector, working with a business coach or simply utilising the contacts you have and taking them out for a coffee to pick their brains, having someone who’s been there, done that and built the empire to bounce ideas off is a great asset to have and something you should take advantage of if you can.
The self-employed life is an amazing experience full of freedom, but it can also be lonely and overwhelming. A mentor will be there to cheer you on, lend an ear when needed and offer advice from a place of experience.
Working outside of your home
On a similar note, while working from home is #livingthedream for some, most people get cabin fever or start feeling isolated when they're stuck in the house nearly every day.
This is where coworking comes in handy. Renting a desk in your town or city can give you the fun office atmosphere while still working on your own and is often flexible (for example, paying for a desk once a week rather than every day) and a lot cheaper than you’d expect. They also usually offer fast wifi and free coffee as well as other perks, so you might actually save some money.
There are also tons of free coworking sessions around now, I know that there’s a fab group called Jelly near where I live who do a free coworking day every Thursday for freelancers where they can have a change of scenery work with other freelancers.
But the really great thing about coworking, which makes it worth paying for, is the fact that it will often help you to find new clients as you’ll be working around other likeminded entrepreneurs who may want to use the services you offer, or maybe you’ll be interested in using theirs.
You might even find a mentor, or even better, some new friends who understand what it's like to be your own boss.
I'm a financial coach and mentor helping female business owners to gain the knowledge and confidence they need to manage their finances successfully and have a positive relationship with money. If you're ready to take control of your finances, click below to find out how I can help you.
I also have a range of amazing resources which you can use to help improve your business finances.