Interviews

How to grow your startup on a budget

5 min read

08 February 2014

I started my first business, online retailer Jazooli.com, when I was 18 years old on a budget of only £3,000 alongside my brother Sam and my Dad. The lessons I learnt along the way have been invaluable and I’ve taken them into my second business.

Looking at the figures, you can probably tell that it’s been a lot of hard work as it was started on such a relatively small budget. There’s a lot of news in the media around seeking start-up loans and seeking outside investment which are all good options, but it is possible to be successful without that kind of help. It starts with budgeting.
Here are some simple tips to help make your start success:

Premises

Only get them when you need to. There’s no point in renting office or warehouse space straight away, not until you know it’s going to be a success, as it’s an unnecessary outlay. Like with many start-up’s, the first business started from my bedroom. As demand for our products grew, this moved to the garage and I hired a friend to help me – but I’ll come on to staff later.

When you do get to a stage where you need office or warehouse space then be sensible. Don’t go for a city centre location unless you really need to. Everyone wants an aesthetically pleasing working environment but the most important aspect is having decent transport links. Choose somewhere that has those, outside a city centre, and you’ll save on rent and council tax.

The niche starting point

Start with a small range of products/services and expand at a later date. If your business is dealing in the buying and selling of stock then be sensible. Don’t buy a huge variety of things initially. Try a small number, see what works and upscale the amount you offer gradually. That means that you don’t have a huge outlay on stock and you avoid having to pay for storage facilities.

Hire flexible and loyal staff

Hire staff who are willing to learn and adapt their skills or learn new ones. As a start-up you need to have staff who have a main role, but can pick up other work when required. At Freshcig we have a PR & Marketing Director who now also does our SEO activity, an area he had never worked in before but his skill set suited. It’s meant that we don’t need to pay for outside services and we save over a £1,000 a month through that alone.

I mentioned hiring my friend Dan, for Jazooli earlier and he still works for the business, very different from the days we worked from the garage. He’s adapted to all of the changes in the business and remains a loyal and valuable employee.

Negotiate

Negotiate on everything. Even if it’s a few pounds off a mobile phone or internet bill, it all helps in the early stages. Remember that as a new business you can still get favourable deals due to your potential. Large companies have a higher amount of leeway to negotiate, but you can and hopefully, will reach that level. As long as you don’t cut corners and make savings that won’t be detrimental to the business, the extra cash can be reinvested and will serve you well in the future.

Re-invest

Put all profits back into the business initially, or as much as you can. Only draw a basic living wage to give your business the best start. We all want to earn a lot of money whilst being our own boss, that’s probably why most people started their businesses, but that can come later. Keep your money circulating in the business, it’s an investment that can make the difference between a start-up failing and succeeding.

Ben Wilson is Managing Director of Freshcig electronic cigarettes, his second business. His brother Sam runs online retailer Jazooli.com.

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