Like every entrepreneur, you want your business to have the best outcome possible. You want your business to succeed.
This often means getting the best that your resources can allow — technology, equipment, even marketing and advertising strategies to spread the word about your business. You want the best that money can buy, which is fine (if your business has a bottomless well of money to support it).
However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that paid items are always the best option. There are a lot of free things that you can use and do that are just as good as their paid counterparts. Just because something costs money doesn’t always mean that the product or strategy is far superior to those that you can get for free.
For most startup entrepreneurs, especially home-based, money is tight and the earning potential of the business is still uncertain. You can break even and start making a profit in a month — or in two years. It is important to be prudent and keep a tight rein on your expenses. This means exploring less costly alternatives, including those that are free. There are a lot of free options and strategies out there that you can use for your business that may be on par (or even better) than the paid options.
Think marketing, for example. To get the word out about your business, you may think that the $1,000 press release package of a major press release distribution company can get you the media mileage you need.
But you may get more relevant links and mentions by simply contacting the editor or writers of your local newspaper and offering yourself as a resource that they can quote for their stories. Or you can pitch your story, or write articles for bloggers and other websites that are looking for content. Reaching out to editors is free and will not cost you a dime, and it may even have a better result than spending $1000 for a press release distribution. You can search for opportunities by subscribing to the newsletter HARO Helping A Reporter Out and be on the lookout for publications where you can contribute or be interviewed.
Another example is building a website. You can hire a programmer and create a fancy website for $25,000. But instead of spending big bucks, a less costly option is to create a website using WordPress, which is free. You can buy a fancy theme for less than $100, and then customize it for less than $500.
When resources are tight, it is important to research first what’s available in the market, exploring both the paid and free versions. Here are steps you can take to help you save on costs and explore free alternatives:
- When you are in the market to purchase technology or equipment, check out review sites to help you decide and explore your options.
- When purchasing software, consider open source. For a file transfer protocol software needed to upload files to a server, for example, there’s the WS_FTP that costs $54.95 and there’s Filezilla, which is free and does all of the things that an average website owner needs.
- Consider crowdsourcing sites for tasks such as Crowdspring.com for logo design
- Barter with other site owners
- Look to auction sites for less costly options
- Explore sites like Fiverr where you can get some custom work done for only $5.
- Check freelancer sites such as Odesk.com or Freelancer.com. There are many opportunities to save as some freelancers and professionals are willing to lower their prices (just be sure to protect yourself with regards to quality and deliverability).
For more ideas, read Money Saving Tips for Entrepreneurs