It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post. It’s not for lack of trying , but each time I’ve sat down to do so, something has cropped up that required my undivided attention. Suddenly two months slipped past and I’ve been left with several half-finished ideas scribbled onto a piece of paper that’s lost between myriad other pages littering my desk.
You see, several months ago I was retrenched… Made redundant… Lost my corporate day job due to the company down-scaling. Although it came as a shock on the day it happened, I can’t say that I was surprised as there had been rumblings of a shake-up for a seriously long time. Having been unhappy for a while, I decided to embrace the circumstances, seeing them as an opportunity rather than a roadblock.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.“– Viktor Frankl
How it all started
Towards the start of 2018, I was desperate for a creative outlet and ended up starting this blog. In what seems like a knock-on effect, it turned into a bit of freelance writing and, since my retrenchment, a fully fledged business. It seemed like a pretty natural progression, however I thought I’d let you all in on a little secret… At the time of creating my blog, I didn’t even own my own computer!
I think that pretty much goes to show that you do not need the latest technology or the most up-market set-up to make things work. Too often we let these things stand in our way, using them as an excuse to not follow through on something – or even try in the first place. All that you need is a little creativity.
Below I run through three cost-saving measures I used to get things off the ground. (I’m still using this minimalist approach as I grow my freelancing gig).
As mentioned above, when I started my blog back in April 2018, I did not own a computer. Before finally buying one that September, I would switch between my company laptop and Mrs Megamalist’s machine.
Needing to balance my budget with computer capability, hours of painstaking research ensued. I found an entry level model for a really good deal and still currently use the same ASUS 4GB RAM notebook for running my business. It may not be a Mac, but it does what I need it to do – access the cloud, browse the web and run software I need to to create text-based documents, graphics and record / edit podcasts. Granted, it’s a little slow, but I have yet to miss a deadline and it’s helping me work on exercising my patience in the interim.
In fact, it’s the same thing with my smartphone. I’ve had the same “cheapie” for three years now and it still works fine!
Takeaway: learn the difference between your wants and needs. You do NOT need a top of the line computer (or smartphone) to start and run a business. Get the tech that you can afford without going into debt. Don’t go so cheap that you’ll need to replace it after a few months, but resist the urge to over invest too.
I’ve spent the better part of my adult life studying. I may not have a formal degree to show for it, but I have explored short courses in several different fields, ranging from journalism to social media marketing. Investing time into learning something new is ever wasted, even if you do not have a piece of paper to show for it.
Fees for studying can wrack up pretty quickly. In addition to course fees, textbooks, extra reading and getting to lectures all cost money; cash that is probably not just lying around.
While some sort of formal education is highly recommended, there are a wide variety of free options available to help you up-skill, deepen your understanding of a subject and help you develop yourself in different directions by teaching you practical applications of certain topics.
Online “universities” such as edX, Udemy and Coursera have hundreds, if not thousands of video courses on everything from digital marketing to the history of rock ‘n roll. These courses are all available either on a free or minimal-charge basis and while you may not get any official certification at the end (some do offer certification, but have to then fork out for the paperwork), the know-how you gain is invaluable.
Lastly, nothing beats teaching yourself. If you want to know how to do something, Google it! There are thousands of resources from big business websites to personal blog posts that will tell you pretty much everything you need to know. Take the information you need, discard the rest and apply what you’ve learnt to what you are doing – because theory means very little unless you know how to use it in the real world.
Case in point, my podcast started with me Googling “how to create a podcast”, followed by trial and error as I fumbled my way to my first episode.
Takeaway: Stay curious. Keep studying. Apply what you learn. Everything you know adds to the unique service you can offer your current or future clients.
Perhaps you need one, maybe you don’t. Perhaps you have the space, maybe you don’t. Personally I find having a space that’s designated as a “business area” keeps me focused and helps my mindset every morning – as soon as I enter that space, it’s work time!
My office cost me next to nothing to set-up. I use the same crappy desk I had in my bedroom as a kid living at home. I have a filing cabinet that looks like it teleported straight out of the 1970’s. I do not own a printer, preferring to pop to the print shop down the road if I require that service (this helps me from needlessly printing, thereby saving paper and ink… and money).
Suffering from semi-chronic back and neck pain, I invested in a decent ergonomic chair. Seeing as I spend more time hunched over a computer than ever before, I viewed the expense as an investment in my well-being and I’m glad that I did! An ergonomic laptop stand goes along way in negating the effects of hours in front of the PC too.
Takeaway: The reputation you build for yourself along with the value of the service you offer is worth more to your bank balance than whether your desk is made of plywood or oak. Use what you have lying around, or find equipment and furniture you can re-purpose or take off someone else’s hands.
“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”– Jim Rohn
Don’t let what seems like high set-up costs stand in the way of doing what you really want to do, whether that be setting up a business or anything else for that matter. There is very, very little you need to get started, so, do just that – start! Budget, find work-arounds and make use of the countless free and cost effective resources available right beneath your fingertips!
Started your own business? I’d love to hear your start-up cost-saving tips, so please share them in the comments below!