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Dominic List: How to do business on a budget

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1. Website: Don’t skimp on this. It’s your business’s front door and shop window. However, great-looking five-page websites can be bought for under £200. Remember you can always upgrade later when the business takes off.

2. FFF (Family, Friends and Fools): These are the best sources to raise seed capital but also get work done. I had my father’s accountant do the accounts for us as a favour on the understanding that if we took off, they would have us for life. We did and they have.

3. Outsource: There are plenty of companies both in the UK or overseas who will do your invoicing, handle calls, provide PA services etc. Much cheaper than hiring full-time employees.

4. Work from home or in the car: I lived in a shared house at the time I started my business so my car was the only guaranteed quiet space I had. I could pretend to clients I was in my “City office”.

5. Use a forwarding address: I had perceived W1 office space for only £30 per month by using a virtual office company. This will give your firm the “big company” feel.

6. Beg, borrow and steal: I fitted out my first three-man office with chairs, desks and filing cabinets by paying my mate £40. I still use the same chair to this day.

7. Non-geographic numbers: 0800 or 0844 can give you national coverage and a “big business” look for a very small outlay. These numbers can also be forwarded to your mobile to hide the fact you don’t have an office.

8. Google Apps: This is similar to Microsoft, yet free to use. If I was starting again, I would probably start my business on these. Again you can always upgrade later.

9. Think big: In my experience, perception is nine tenths of reality. Don’t apologise for being small; every business had to start somewhere. Be big with your suppliers for good discounts. You may not have much business to give them now, but they’ll be glad to have you in a few years. Don’t be shy of asking for volume discounts.

10. Customer is King: Customers are the best marketing tool you can have – and they don’t cost a penny! I figure that about 80 per cent of my business comes from word-of-mouth recommendations.

Shropshire-born Dominic List has grown Comtact into a £6m-turnover business in just three years. For more information, check out www.dominiclist.co.uk or www.comtact.co.uk Related articles:Dominic List: Poster boy for startups

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