Many soloists feel they need to have significant funds available in order to launch a business. While every cent helps, it can be done on a shoestring. Once you’re up and running, you can build on improving your branding and marketing where necessary. But for starters, here’s how it’s done.
- Register your business name to ensure that no-one else can operate under that name. In Australia this costs less than $200.
- Register your domain name and set up web hosting (about $100 per year). This will enable you to set up emails at your business domain and host a website at your business domain address. This looks far more professional than a third-party email or website provider.
- Decide on your brand image and obtain an effective logo. You could pay thousands of dollars for logo design work; however, there are some companies online that can provide you with a professional, customised logo design suited to your brand for as little as $49. Beware of “free” offers, as you may not get the quality you want.
- Set up a website. The best low-cost solution is WordPress, a free website content management system that allows you to update website content. This will save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. It is advisable to purchase a premium website theme from a third-party company with built in functionality that can then be customised to suit your branding ($20-40).
- Purchase website maintenance training. A professional-looking website is critical for an online business’s success so I highly recommend investing in an online training program (for WordPress, about $200) that covers everything from the basics to using recommended plug-ins and widgets, as well as search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques.
- For a professional look, purchase high-resolution images. Source these from a stock photography website (about $1 per image). These can be used on your website and any other print and graphic design projects, so long as credit is given.
- Design and purchase business cards consistent with your branding. There are numerous online companies that offer business cards for a minimal cost (about $30). Having your contact details on hand is important for networking and marketing your business in the early stages.
- Set up social media accounts under your business name with Facebook and Twitter and consider extending this to LinkedIn and Google+. Ensure that your branding is consistent across all of these social media platforms and connect with other companies that have a similar audience. Invite your personal and professional networks to connect with your business via these platforms and ask them to recommend to their networks where relevant.
- Set up a blog. Write concise, relevant and informative articles to your target audience and issue this on a consistent basis (weekly or monthly). Repurpose these documents and submit to other websites or blogs that serve a similar audience, and to content websites such as Ezinearticles. By having other websites link back to yours, you will get significantly better results in Google searches and drive traffic to your site.
- Consider some cost-per-click advertising and set a low budget ($25 per month) with Facebook or Google AdWords.
Want more articles like this? Check out the business marketing section.
As a final tip, sign up for as many reputable business newsletters that provide free tips and resources in online marketing, branding, social media networking and search engine optimisation (SEO). In the online age there is so much to master and many businesses provide enough free content to allow you to be successful without blowing your start-up budget.
There are many more branding and marketing activities that could be undertaken, but the ones listed will get you off to a professional and importantly low-cost start.
How did you save money when branding, marketing and launching a business?