We've all seen those episodes of Oprah where the mom had an idea, and for less than $100 she started a multi-million dollar company. I've personally met several women over the years who have done the same thing.
Although it's not easy to turn $100 investment into a multi-million dollar company, it is very simple to start a business with less than $100 and save approximately $27,000 from the tradition model of business start up.
1. Set up your business as a sole proprietorship rather than a corporation. Go to IRS.gov and set up your business TAXID number for a sole proprietorship that's different from your personal social security number. Setting up a TAXID number is free (sole proprietors can also get free checking accounts for your business this way with some banks). If your business is wildly successful, you can always create a corporation and "sell" your assets to your corporation Before you incorporate ask yourself, "Does incorporating save me money on taxes? Does this business put me in high risk (or any risk) of being sued and losing my assets?" If the answer is yes, then seriously consider incorporating. COST: free. SAVINGS:$100 to $2500
2. Write your own business and marketing plans rather than hiring a company. For help on how to write your business and marketing plans go to the MIBN Knowledge Center and find the "How To Write a Business Plan" and "How To Write a Marketing Plan" courses. COST: free. SAVINGS: $1500 to $10,000
3. Buy a Domain Name from GoDaddy, Namecheap, 1to1, etc. for less than $10 vs. buying your domain name from a more expensive retailer. COST: $1+. SAVINGS: $15 - $25
4. Build your website using a free blogging tool such as Google's Blogger or WordPress.com, or on a social media site like Facebook or LinkedIn Page. For a little more money, you can buy your domain and a website less than $20 a month and have a more professional site that's easy to create yourself. COST: free. SAVINGS: $100 to $2500+
5. With the right timing, you can still get 250 business cards from VistaPrint.com for free (just pay shipping). COST: $4.99 for shipping. SAVINGS: $50
6. For Brochures: Opt for postcards instead. They can be mailed easier and cheaper. They are cheaper to print. It's also important to note that most start up businesses change their business offerings, programs, etc. quite often in the start up phase. Brochures often become obsolete before you receive them due to economic changes, vendor cancellations, etc. DON'T spend tons of money on brochures because I guarantee you will have to throw some away. Use your website as your brochure and a postcard as your promotion piece. If you really feel you must have a brochure, then create a downloadable brochure that's accessible from your website. With OvernightPrints.com and other online printing companies, you can receive 100 postcards for $9.95 plus shipping. COST: $15 SAVINGS: $25-$100.
7. Home Office vs. Commercial Office Space: Some of the most successful moms in business literally started at their kitchen table. Read the stories of Melanie Corpstein, CEO of AdorableOriginals.com, Lisa Price, founder of Carol's Daughter Cosmetics, and Lillian Vernon, founder of the Lillian Vernon Catalog Co. There are hundreds more. When I first wrote this piece, home office businesses are all the rage, now telecommuniting and home offices are the norm. COST: free. SAVINGS: $250 to $2000 per month
8. Use PayPal, Square or Swip vs. a commercial credit card processor. Until you have sales there is no reason to pay a monthly fee for credit card processing. Paypal is easy to integrate into almost every site, and there's no monthly fees. You pay only when you make a sale. COST: free. SAVINGS: $49 to $89 per month
9. Don't carry stock. There are many ways to sell products from online wholesalers and THEY process the shipments...from print-on-demand booksellers to gift items. You can be a reseller for almost any product and never have to own any stock. Avoid MLM businesses where you have to buy hundreds or thousands of dollars in merchandise. I've heard too many stories of the MLM company buying the merchandise back from the reseller for 30-60 cents on the dollar. COST: free. SAVINGS: $500-$1500
10. Use Twitter vs. a Newsletter. When your businesses is booming then you can convert your Twitter followers into newsletter subscribers, but in the meantime don't shell out the dough for just a few subscribers unless it's really necessary. You will also build your following faster with Twitter than with a newsletter. For example, I have one online property that has 79 subscribers of the newsletter, but I have 85 followers on Twitter, and it's growing very quickly. I have another online property that attracted 25 followers in 48 hours. I learned the expensive way, and I don't have a newsletter for that second media property. If you do need (or want) to write a newsletter to get emailed out, then Mailchimp and Graphicmail are awesome free options. COST: free. SAVINGS: $15 to $50 per month.
End Count: Total Savings: $27, 075
KEY TO SUCCESS #1: Don't listen to sales people that are trying to sell you services or products you don't need yet. A great sales person helps you buy what you can use and succeed with. They don't oversell you products.
KEY TO SUCCESS #2: When times are tough, most people cut the marketing budget. That's not the best place to cut because simply No Marketing = No Income. Put most of your time and money into marketing because marketing, and only marketing, will bring in the money.
KEY TO SUCCESS #3: Don't overlook legal. Before you go into business, ask several accountants and lawyers for advice. Go to your local Women's Business Center to legal and bookkeeping advice seminars (often free). You'll actually find that you may get conflicting advice. Keep asking your questions until you get a level of consensus that helps you feel confident in your business structure and plan.
This article is in no way considered legal, accounting or any other kind of business consulting advice. These are just tips.
About the Author
Gina Robison-Billups, is the founder/CEO of Women's Money, and is the past-president/founder of The National Association For Moms In Business. Privately Gina does speaking and consulting via SheGetsResults.com and is the co-author of several books.