Maximizing Your Resources
What is the most important resource a business needs to get started?
Chances are, one of the first things you thought of was money. However, there are a lot of resources you should consider before jumping straight to finances that could save you a lot of money in the end.
Use Free Resources
Back towards the beginning of the year, I walked into Deb Bilbao’s office, Business Consultant at the WBC, and shared my desire to transform my hobby into a business. Deb pointed me in the right direction and has been a great resource to me as I’ve learned what it takes to start a business. And it didn’t cost me a dime!
The Women’s Business Center is one organization that offers free business consulting. There are several other organizations that offer similar services, such as SCORE, an organization made up of business professionals who give back to the business community by volunteering their time as mentors. There is also the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which has offices throughout the state of Utah. You could use one or all of these resources as you build up your supporting cast.
As we learned from Karin Palle’s blog last week last week, mentors can have a big impact on your success. Keep in mind, however, not everyone who serves as a mentor or business counselor will bear that job description on their name badge. Sometimes, a mentor can be as simple as a friend who works in the industry your business will be in.
After meeting with Deb, I took a friend to lunch who works as an illustrator and learned all sorts of useful information from her experiences and the resources she’s been using. I have followed up with her several times since then and I now consider her one of my mentors.
At the WBC, we often meet budding entrepreneurs who think they need to get an office or brick-and-mortar storefront as soon as possible. That’s not always the best use of your money. Often, when you’re starting out, it’s more important to build a following online using social media and email marketing than to rent an office space.
A good example of this is Rags to Raches owner and founder, Rachel Nilsson. Money was very tight for her and her family so she decided to start making and selling children’s clothes to help earn a little cash. She posted her clothes on Instagram and gained in impressive following, eventually ending up on ABC’s Shark Tank, all without a physical storefront to sell her products.
The benefit of turning a hobby into a business is that you already have a lot of the materials. I’ve been painting and drawing most of my life so the decision start an illustration business didn’t require a large monetary commitment to get going. I already had all the art supplies, a computer, a scanner, and the software to create and edit images digitally in addition to my traditional art, so there haven’t been many expenses for me to worry about yet.
That’s not the case with every business endeavor but that doesn’t mean you can’t still keep your expenses to a minimum.
One of the best ways to do this is to borrow, rent, and buy used rather than going out and getting brand new materials and equipment.
In Build Your Dream Company, several entrepreneurs share how they managed to minimize costs while starting their companies, including Justin Gold, founder of Justin’s, a natural nut butter company. He found some old industrial food processors and combined them with additional equipment to create exactly what he needed rather than purchasing a new peanut butter mill, saving his business thousands of dollars.
These are just some of the resources available to help you save some cash as you start your business. The next step is to think about what you really need to get started, what you already have, and what you could get through a friend or acquaintance for cheap or free. Check back next week for some more advice on keeping costs low and learn all about how to bootstrap your way to success!