How to get your business started on a shoestring budget
How to Get Started on a Shoestring Budget
ieva lacaine - shoestring budget

Guest post by Ieva Laicane

Building your own business is one of the most exciting and challenging things anyone can do. Pulling off your own business on a shoestring budget is the next level of challenging. How to do it without spending nerve-wracking hours staring at your bank account and even more important – where to invest to succeed?

The good thing is: there are many services that are offering free plans for the very basic or even all the necessary features. You can not only start using apps like Evernote, Buffer, Canva, Google Apps without worrying about monetary investment but also try out the ones that are offering a free trial period. Find what suits the best for you and your business!

If you’re just beginning and your budget is tight there are only very few things that you really should invest in:

 

Your website

Proper website is one of the main things that make your business look legit. Domain and host won’t cost you much, just make sure to choose the service you feel comfortable using. You don’t have to invest in a custom design or development. Start out small, start from where you are and go from there, step by step!

 

Custom e-mail

There are loads of arguing going on about whether you should create custom e-mail like name@yourdomain.com instead of name@gmail.com. I’m standing along with those who say that custom e-mail IS important. As the general rule stands: personalized business e-mail will make you look more legit along the other business owners. It might not always be true but it will give the right impression!

 

Accounting and invoicing app

To ease up your daily life you should seriously consider spending some money for any of many accounting apps. That way you can save loads of time as well as your own sanity. After all: it is important to get some money rolling and accounting is a big part of your business but you might be not all that comfortable with these questions yourself. Apps like Wave or Freshbooks will be the right choice for you!

 

Branding design

There’s no need to go full-out on a whole graphic design package, but it’s important that you at least start with a really strong idea of who you are, who your audience is, and how you can help them. To start with, keep your visual branding elements simple, but be consistent with them – use the same colours and fonts across everything you produce – your blog header, your newsletter, your graphics, your business card, etc. Being consistent with your visual elements helps to convey the idea of consistency and trustworthiness in business too.

 

Once you’ve set up the very basics and you’re looking forward to do the next investments, I’d suggest you to consider:

Accountant or VA

Hiring help is a scary thing to do. You’re not only trusting someone who you might not know but you will also get back a bit of your own freedom! Don’t be afraid to add accountant or Virtual Assistant (VA) to your daily life. That way you will be able to spend more time doing what you actually love instead of doing the tasks that can be done by someone else.

 

Custom design and development for your website

If you’re not a designer or developer and you’ve created your website all on your own, it might be super important to take the next step and reach out to a designer and/or developer. There are many offers out there who are tailored to specific businesses and one of them will be the best one for you. It’s a big investment that will go a long way!

 

Program and app upgrades

When your business is stable, it’s the right time to check all the programs and apps you’re using and consider upgrading some of them. Please, keep in mind: the fact that you have some money for that doesn’t mean you actually have to do it if you don’t feel like it. Many people are fine with the basic plans for their apps and programs but maybe for you it could be the way to be able to take your business to the next level!

If you feel like all this is already said and done for your business, great for you! There are several other ways how you can build your business bigger and stronger from there:

– Hire a business coach;

– Upgrade your laptop/camera and other technique you’re using for your business;

– Buy e-books from the best in the field or take some online classes (e-courses);

– Hire social media manager or graphic designer;

– Upgrade your office space or buy a membership to a coworking place.

 

After all, always remember: business does take investment and you shouldn’t be afraid to make one! In the same time, be mindful about where your money goes and how well it’s spent and your business will succeed.

 

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Author Bio:

Ieva is a website designer & strategist traveling and working as a digital nomad. Ever since she found freelancing it become her biggest passion, therefore, she came up with an online course for new freelancers and became a new freelancer coach at www.readysetstartfreelancing.com You can follow her at www.twitter.com/therandomp.

Best 5 tips for branding: Part 1 – Graphic design essentials
5 best branding tips- graphic design essentials

 

YESSSSS a brand new series for you – and a short one so that you can get back to doing what you do best! Five posts on the five things I think are absolutely essential for branding your business, whether you’re selling a physical product or selling a service. Get these five things sorted, and you’ll be a very long way in front of your competitors. First one’s on Graphic Design Essentials.

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Basic graphic design mistakes are something I see ALL. THE. FREAKING. TIME.  And it’s really the main reason that made me want to get started in branding (soooo many ugly Etsy shops!). Because before your customers even get to your lovingly crafted words and inspect your lovingly crafted goods, that mess just stops them in their tracks. They’re too spoilt for choice, and something prettier’s only a click away.

I KNOW technology’s made it easy for us to DIY everything (yes, Google’s my friend too). But in this age of DIY everything in five minutes, there is a huge amount of excellent knowledge that’s lost in translation, with inevitably poor results. And bad-looking websites with terrible layouts and awkward graphics make me sad.
(OK, getting off my ranty high horse now.)

 

Now that I’ve said that, I would also like to say that these simple fixes are super duper easy. You don’t have be a graphic design guru to get these things right; heck, you don’t have to have any kind of design training – anyone can do them, with even the most basic of image editing programs.

 

ALIGNMENT.

Please. Make sure things are lined up. A header on the left and a thumbnail pic in the middle and a quote that’s kinda halfway across the page and random assortment of different sized pics doesn’t convey “free-spirited and creative” – it conveys “disorganised, messy, and unprofessional”. Yes. You’ve seen those websites too. And you’ve cringed a little bit, haven’t you.

Especially in graphics, if things are supposed to be centred (like your name in your website header), make sure they’re actually centred. Don’t do it by eye; use whatever snap tool or guide functionality you have in your image editing software. (And I know PicMonkey doesn’t have a guide, so I’ve made this handy free downloadable grid overlay here.)

Make sure that when you use images in a straight line, that they’re all the same size (i.e. if they’re in a column, make sure they’re all the same width; if they’re running horizontally across the page in a row, make sure they’re the same height).

Text needs to be aligned properly too. If you’re writing a document and you want to put in sub-headings, make sure they’re all aligned with each other – whether that’s left or centred doesn’t matter so much, as long as you’re consistent through the whole document.

When you’re working with a space that is going to present only a small amount of information (such as a website header, a business card, or a social media graphic like an ad for Facebook or a pin for Pinterest, make sure it’s all aligned together.

 

alignment tip for FB

 

 

HIERARCHY.

Make the important things stand out more. When it’s text, and you’ve created variety through size, colour, italics and bold, think about what your eye is drawn to the most, and use that for your most important headings. Newspapers are experts at creating hierarchy within text – check out how they arrange their articles for headline, subheading, author byline, and article text.

 

5 best branding tips1- graphic design-fonts

 

Also: “Show me where to click.” I love Seth Godin, and this little gem from him’s been stuck in my head for quite a while now. You can use contrast to create hierarchy too – if your brand colours are mostly black and white with a pop of red, DON’T fall for the next-to-useless ‘make your BUY buttons red’ rubbish; you need to make them contrast so that they stand out, so make those buttons bright blue or green or yellow, so they pop!

 

 

NEGATIVE SPACE.

Don’t try and jam everything into the smallest amount of space possible. I won’t know where to look. Too much choice = confusion and as I said before, there’s bound to be something prettier that’s just a click away.

Let things breathe. Surround them with enough space so that it’s easy to look at, and easy to read. Your products, your images, and yes, this goes for text too.

When you’re photographing your products, make sure it’s obvious what it is that you’re selling, and don’t crowd your shot with props. When you’re placing images on your website, ensure they’ve got a bit of blank space around them so that they’re easy to focus on without distraction. And break up a big slab of text with headings, and/or important snippets – solid slabs of text are for academics, not for your sales page, or for your “About” page.

 

5 best branding tips1- graphic design-text1

A BIG slab of solid text.
Boring, right!? Did you even read past the first line?

Let’s try it again –

5 best branding tips1- graphic design-text2

 

Now doesn’t that look a whole heap better? Think about it. You scanned the second article, didn’t you? And then you got intrigued by the fabulous house, and read a bit more. Ha! The text is absolutely no different; it’s all to do with layout.

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OK, go fix up your websites!! Go on, I’ll wait 🙂

(And come back here and tell me when you’re done, ‘k? I’d LOVE to have a look!)

See you next week with the next tip.
(Update: You can find all the tips here)

 

Julie x