Written by Andrew Fabbri
Edited by Jill Smith
Having enough capital is a problem that most new businesses face. Luckily, there are resources available to the public that can be used to help start your business and overcome this obstacle. Recently a friend of mine decided to start her own part-time landscaping business and she came to me for help in lieu of this very problem. Using four primary resources that I guided her to, she was able to successfully acquire customers and maneuver through the rough patches of her startup. These resources included websites where free or low cost marketing material is provided, email blasts are sent out, a free business telephone line is created, and where free or discounted Microsoft Office products could be purchased. All four were user friendly and had high success rates for use.
The marketing of a company is a very important foundation that can make it or break it. With low capital at hand, I had to help her find ways to get her name out there without having it cost a fortune. A great website to get clean cut professional marketing material from is OvernightPrints. By using a free online coupon service called Retailmenot.com, you can look up coupons for Overnightprints and save yourself lots of money. The most common coupon provides 100 free business cards or post cards, but their promotions may vary.
Did you know marketing could potentially take up a 1/3 of a company's budget? Thankfully e-mail marketing is inexpensive. If you would like to send professional HTML emails to your customer you can use Mailchimp.com. In my profession, I have used Constant Contact and Exact Target for clients which has monthly fees. Surprisingly, Mail Chimp has user interface functionality, template designs, tools and integration technology that is comparable to Constant Contact and Exact Target. I used MailChimp.com for a client this past month. A highlight is their free plan that allows you to send 6,000 emails per month to up to 1,000 subscribers. The only kicker is Mail Chimp puts a small logo of theirs in the footer of your email--- an area that tends to not distract the reader from the body of the message. By utilizing their Pay-As-You-Go plan, you can minimize the amount of money going out every month.
One of the third areas I told my friend about was Google Voice. If you would like to have a separate business phone number, you can use Google Voice at google.com/voice. It allows you to use the existing capabilities of your phone, regardless of which phone or carrier you have - for free. It also gives you:
- One Number
- Use a single number that rings you anywhere.
- Online voicemail
- Get transcribed VM messages delivered to your inbox.
Google generates a professional number based on the area code you are in, and you get to separate your personal life from your business one.
Lastly, are you tired of paying out of the nose for expensive Microsoft Office products? Well at microsoft.com/student/office, you can buy Office Suite in its entirety for less than 80 dollars. That includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook and more. But unfortunately, this offer only applies to college students. All you need is a college email, i.e. ones that ends with a ".edu". Not a college student? You can always use Google Docs at docs.google.comand their free software, which is similar to Microsoft Office Suite.
I am sure that if you dug around hard enough you could find many more resources out there that would help you save money in the start up and maintenance of a business, but these four in particular help create a great foundation for the marketing in particular. One of the most important buttresses of the ultimate success or failure of a company, it cannot be ignored for the sake of saving a pretty penny. By taking care of your email blasts, business telephone line, computer programs, and physical marketing material, I have created an effective plan that can be utilized by any business owner to turn a pretty penny.