How to start with a limited budget
Follow our guide to getting your business off the ground
If, like Sophie, you have a
burning desire to turn a creative passion into a business, but have limited funds to make it happen, some of the following pointers may help you get started in a local setting at minimal cost. Never forget that by starting local and thinking big, anything is possible.
Learn to wear many hats. To begin with, do as much as possible yourself to save money. However, don’t scrimp on brand image. Like Sophie, invest in a stand-out design for your brand. This is a customer’s first interaction with your business so it must look professional.
Research cost-effective shop
premises. Get to know local farmers/ landholders who might be able to offer you cheap rental premises away from expensive high-street locations.
Optimise your buying channels. Sophie supports local business by buying flowers from a nearby cutting garden. She also orders on a weekly basis from international suppliers that deliver direct. Being independent and local does not mean limited choice.
Buy in limited runs. Ordering can be stressful as quantities can make or break a business. Sophie began small, buying in seven different varieties at a time to work out what sold. Time allows you to perfect your buying skills and helps you to be braver with your decisions.
Be inspired by the trends. Local does not mean parochial. Sophie follows the new styles and colours in fashion and lifestyle – ensure you do the same to keep ahead of the curve.
Get to know your customer base. Sophie was lucky to attract the attention of three local schools and found a group of regular customers. This initial footfall was important to get the brand started. It is, however, vital not to rely on just one customer stream. Sophie is always looking for ways to reach new customers. Consider trying local interior fairs, pop-up shops and community and seasonal events to take your brand out to a new audience.
Think big. Save profits and plan for the future. Starting local does not mean always remaining local. Use social media/pr and press coverage opportunities to create national awareness, so when you are ready financially to take your brand to the next level, the awareness will be established.
Be proactive with collaborative
opportunities. Link with local, like-minded businesses that have a similar customer philosophy to you. The power of shared or collaborative thinking can be very rewarding.
Look for new channels to promote
your message. Sophie’s skills as a wordsmith and her creative eye could lead eventually to book deals or feature opportunities. Use your creative talents to develop ideas for future initiatives.
Take yourself out of your comfort
zone. Keep pushing yourself and your abilities with bigger and better projects. Sophie is now doing large-scale events that would have seemed unimaginable just three years ago.
Improve your business acumen. Seek advice from an expert and be sensible with your pricing. Don’t under-sell your creativity as this is the basis of your future success. Websites such as startupnation.com, startups.co.uk, smallbusiness.co.uk and entrepreneur. com offer advice for new businesses.
Provide outstanding customer service. Happy customers will keep returning and new leads will multiply.
‘No two bouquets are the same when you are working with colour, texture and Nature. Follow your senses and allow your creativity to Flow’