Updated: Apr 14
By Natalie Ward: Marketing 2025 . April 4th, 2023
It is a misconception that starting your first business requires a large investment up front. Many successful entrepreneurs started their first endeavor with the bare minimum. In order to gain the skills you need to build your entrepreneurial portfolio, or to go all in on an idea, you absolutely do not need to break the bank. Here are some tips to save your time and your wallet:
Leverage Free Marketing Channels
Marketing can be one of the most expensive aspects of building a business. Fortunately, there are many free marketing channels that you can leverage to promote your business without spending a dime. Some of the most popular free marketing channels include:
Social media: Platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest are great places to connect with potential customers and build a following for your brand. Use social media to share interesting content, engage with your audience, and promote your products or services. Check out my other posts on how to use social media for your business!
Content marketing: Creating valuable content like blog posts, infographics, and videos is a great way to attract potential customers to your website. Not only is content marketing free (aside from the time it takes to create the content), but it can also help you establish yourself as an expert in your field and build trust with your audience.
Email marketing: Email marketing is a highly effective way to stay in touch with your audience and promote your products or services. You can use free email marketing tools like Mailchimp to create and send newsletters, promotional emails, and more.
Optimize Cash Flow
Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, but it can be especially challenging to manage when you’re just starting out. Managing the money coming in and out of your business is essential to stick to your budget. Here are some ways to track each dime of your cash:
Negotiate payment terms: When working with vendors or suppliers, try to negotiate payment terms that work in your favor. For example, you might ask for longer payment terms or a discount for paying early.
Invoice promptly: Make sure you invoice your clients promptly and follow up on any overdue payments. You can use free invoicing tools like Wave or Zoho Invoice to make the invoicing process easier.
Keep your expenses under control: It’s important to keep your expenses under control, especially when you’re on a tight budget. Look for ways to cut costs wherever possible, whether it’s by using free software instead of paid options or by finding more affordable suppliers.
Finally, it’s important to minimize your expenses as much as possible when you’re building a business on a budget. Here are some ways to keep costs down:
Start small: Do not start out by buying tons of inventory and expecting it to all sell. You need to start out small and sell out in order to measure the demand for your business. Doing proper market research and gaining experience selling will help you plan your expenses accordingly.
Hire freelancers or peers: Instead of hiring full-time employees, consider hiring freelancers for specific tasks or projects, who are often less expensive. If you are on campus at Clark, there are many student businesses and those who have expertise in many areas. They might be willing to work for you at a low or free rate. Do not be afraid to ask the people who care about you for help when you are starting out!
Use free tools: There are many free tools and resources available that can help you run your business more efficiently. For example, you can use free project management tools like Asana or Google Calendar. Don’t pay full prices until your business is already creating enough revenue to back it.
A Message From The Author: Natalie Ward
Starting your business can be super exciting and you might want to go all in, especially if it is your first business. However, I can tell from personal experience that you absolutely do not need to throw all of your money into something that might not even work out. You need to build trust within yourself and learn the supply and demand of your business. As things grow, you will have the budget for expanding your expenses. Especially as a college student, there is a whole network of resources that you can use to make a safe investment in your business. If you really need a large sum of money to start your business, look into grant, loan, or crowdfunding options. Good luck, and remember that it is normal and important to make mistakes during your entrepreneurial journey.