How to launch your business on a budget

It is really easy to get caught in the cycle of planning your business and never actually taking the big leap of launching it. There are many reason why people with brilliant business ideas never put them into fruition but a lack of funds can be a huge barrier to taking that dream and making it real.

It is easy to look at those around you and think that they all must have started off with well-paid jobs, excellent funding or supportive partners. This is not always the case. I launched my first product business with £300. I saved £50 a month for six months while on maternity leave. I worked this out to be around £11 a week that I needed to save. That equates to missing out on a couple of trips to cafes and having people over instead, to walking more rather than catching transport or using petrol, or swapping a few luxuries for cheaper versions.

In reality, I probably could have done with saving for another six months but I knew that if I carried on talking about my business rather than actually doing my business then I was at risk of not launching it at all.

I made mistakes, I underestimated a lot of costs but I did it. I launched the product business on £300.

Here are my tips on how you can create the money you need to launch your business:

  1. Work out how much money you do need - Start by making a list of all the things you need to start your business. Website, hosting and a branding pack are a good place to start. Check for hidden costs, like minimum order quantities, plug-ins, shipping fees etc. Add all of these figures up and then add 10 per cent just to be safe. This is now your goal to raise this cash.

  2. Break that amount down into smaller chunks - Take that figure and break it down into months. If you want to launch for a certain time of year then how many months is it until that point? Break one month down into weeks and then have a look at your spending, what can you cut back on for a few months to save the difference?

  3. Check for funding and grants - You don’t have to find all of this money yourself. Getting a business loan can seem scary. It is debt. But you might find there are some schemes or funding available to you. Most local UK areas will have business development managers, often attached to their local council. Usually they can offer free advice as to what funds you might be able to apply to receive. Hunt them out, tell them your idea, show them your plan.

  4. Set yourself a date (and stick to it) - If you have broken your money goal down into months you should now have a starting date in mind. I want you to add two weeks to this and write in your diary or calendar. You have a two-week buffer to get to your launch cost goal. The best way to stick to this date is to tell people about it. Shout it out from your landing page that this business is launching on this date. Start building our launch plan towards this date. Then you can’t back out, people are waiting eagerly for your business to start.

  5. Double check your costs are right - There is nothing worse than getting to a few weeks before you launch and finding out that the products you wanted to get in stock actually have a minimum order value attached to them which blows your budget. I know, I’ve been there. Take a moment to re-check your costs and really dig deep into the possibilities of hidden extras.

  6. Work out your break even point - What do you need to break even? How much do you need to sell? And at what point do you need to break even? If you know these figures now then it seems less scary investing your money into your business idea because you know the point at which you’ve gotten that money back.

  7. Risk as much as you are willing to lose - Remember the real figure you will spend on starting your business is likely to be three times the original amount. Do not let that put you off, just be aware of it and have a plan on how to make that extra money in the early days. If all you can risk is a few hundred pounds, then don’t invest any more. Know in your head what this business is worth to you, what the risk is worth. It is often hard to put a value on that but if you can risk losing that starting money, then why are you not entering launch phase now?

AND WHAT IF YOU’RE A SERVICE-BASED BUSINESS?

As a service-based business your overheads can be dramatically reduced but there are still financial blockers that might stop you from launching your business. The cost of hardware, software, covering the income that a full time job might bring in are all things that might get in the way of your announcing that launch date.

Here are some bonus things you can do to try and get over those obstacles.

  1. Decide if you are going to make this business sit alongside more permanent work - if you are going to work a part or even full-time job while you build up your client base, then you have a guaranteed income coming in as well as that all important sick and holiday pay. There are a lot of benefits for doing this but also many downsides.

  2. Work out your costs - how much do you need to survive? How much do you need to live? And how much do you want to make? These are three very different numbers. If you are happy to survive while you get established then put that figure big and bold in front of you as an amount to save. If you need more income each month than to just survive (by this I mean getting the bills paid and anything else that cannot be missed), you want a little spare as a security blanket regardless of whether or not your business is your only income stream, then put that figure big and bold in front of you.

  3. Figure out how much you want to make - We just looked at seeing how much you need to make. This is a very different figure from how much you want to make. If you know you want to make equal to your full time salary then put that figure down on paper.

  4. Cost out your services - As a service business, if you have packages for potential clients then you know how many you need to sell each month. This works for your client too as they know how much they need to invest in you. For example, if you have a £500 a month package and you need to make £1000 a month to survive then you need to sell three packages a month or have an additional income stream.

  5. Wait, why three packages? - Don’t forget to account for tax when working out what you need to sell. As a general rule, save 25% of everything that you earn as you are paid your invoices.

HERE’S THE MATHS:

If your desired earning is X and your package is Y then:

X / (Yx.75) = Z

This is where Z is the clients.

Using my example of needing to earn £1000 a month:

1000/ 375 = 2.6

You now know that you need three clients to bring in your surviving amount per month. If you work a part time job, you may not need three clients a year. Factor this into your calculations. BUT make sure you know where you will find the hours to service these clients if you are taking a part time job.