Setting up your own business is expensive. Apparently. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Most startup businesses spend an absolute fortune on those first few months – the first few months when you’re not actually generating any income. To be successful, you need to maximise profits and minimise expenditure. You can’t get more minimalist than zero expenditure, so here are some tips on how to start up a business without spending a single penny!
To start operations, you will need to register your business. This is usually free, and will give you a certain degree of protection from day one, such as safeguarding the business’s name and any corporate identity you may be developing. You are required to register your business with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) under the Companies Act 1965 and the Registration of Businesses Act 1956 .
Get your finances in order
This may seem like a strange piece of advice to give in an article that’s showing you how to avoid spending any money, but if your finances are sorted from the outset you will avoid costly accounting mistakes (and possible taxation violation fines) further down the line. Look for cheap accounting software such as QuickBooks Online, and make sure your financial records are kept up to date from the start.
USE THE INTERNET
Domain names can cost a fortune – or they can be free. Spend a bit of time hunting around for a domain name that encapsulates your business identity, and doesn’t cost anything to acquire. Once you’ve registered your domain name you can start to build a website. You don’t need to employ expensive webmasters to do this, as there are plenty of online resources for startup businesses that can help you to build a very basic website. You don’t need bells and whistles at this point – but what you do need is to get your name out there quickly. So blog, Tweet and use social media sites like Facebook as free advertising platforms to grab the attention of your potential customers.
Check out sites such as Yalwa.my and Malaysia.Craiglist.com. These sites are incredibly popular and a great place to start pushing your business. MeetUp.com (http://meetup.com/cities/my) is another option – this site connects people who have similar interests and can help you to build your local customer base. Make sure you have something to offer and that you’re pro-active in your approach. Another alternative is posting videos on YouTube. You don’t need fancy cameras or professional set-ups. An effective and very professional-looking video can be shot on a smart-phone or tablet and uploaded onto the site in seconds. Once it’s up there, point people in the direction of your video by Tweeting about it or telling your followers on Facebook.
Emails are free, and take your message direct into the heart of someone’s home. Use it wisely and ensure that you do a little bit of research on the principles of email marketing first, but this can be one of your most effective marketing tools.
All of these techniques enable you to set up and promote your business without spending any money, and can form the foundation of a successful marketing campaign. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to get started, but if it isn’t costing you anything except a little bit of time and effort, why not give it a go?
By Carlo Pandian, freelance blogger and tutorial writer. Carlo also speaks at conferences on how the Internet can help entrepreneurs to boost their business.