If you’re planning to start your new enteprise in 2013, you’ll doubtless be concerned about the financial impact. But there may be ways for you to get your venture up and running without breaking the bank.
In this extract from Make Money from Makes, Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones considers four ways to start a business on a budget – and looks at one small venture that is achieving success without serious expenditure.
1. Start the business from home
Why take on the cost of an office when your spare room/attic/garden shed will do just as well? Think of the money you’ll save: no premises, no commute, no overpriced sandwiches at lunchtime…! We’ve already talked about the admin side of starting from home and how to turn a home office into the perfect working environment.
Plus if you have children, you can work the business around them so that you get the most out of your time together – not to mention the savings on childcare!
2. Embrace social media
Make the most of free or low-cost technology tools to raise your profile and make sales. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are excellent places to shout about your work, display photographs and interact with customers and other crafters.
3. Beg, borrow and barter
When starting out, access all the resources you can. Need a space in which to host an event? Approach someone who has the space and would welcome the footfall you can bring. After some heavy duty equipment that your start-up budget just can’t afford? Reach out to someone who has the equipment and ask whether you can use it in their downtime hours. It is perfectly possible to put together a
business/event/project through bartering your way to success!
4. Work 5-9
You can plan the business, register the business and indeed continue to run the business successfully by ‘working 5 to 9’ – this is the term I apply to the millions of people who are holding down a day job and building a business at night and during weekends. While you might work as an estate agent during the day, you could get your pottery business up and running in your spare time, giving you the financial security of your full-time job and allowing you to build the new business at your own pace.
Working 5 to 9 is a very sensible way to start and grow – you give yourself the time to build confidence and cash flow in the business, plus you can keep putting money aside until you’re ready to go full time. If you are keeping hold of the day job and growing the business in your spare time, here’s what you need to do regarding your current job and boss.
Your employment contract
Your contract is likely to contain reference to the pursuit of personal business ventures outside your contracted working hours. The clauses to look out for include ‘the employee’s duties and obligations’ and what is commonly known as ‘whole time and effort’. These clauses usually require the employee to devote the whole of their time, attention and abilitiesto the business of the employer.
If your contract contains these or similar clauses, don’t despair – many employment contracts are drafted using standard templates with little consideration to personal circumstance. You know your job better than anyone, so if you don’t think your business venture will affect the way you do your job, it probably won’t – and your employer will recognise this.
The best thing to do is to arrange an amicable and informal meeting with your employer and be prepared to negotiate, be flexible and compromise.
Budget start-up success: Emma Maudsley
Emma Maudsley (left) started Sock Monkey Emporium while holding down a day job and has built the business to the point where she’s working on it full time. Established in 2010, the business has grown at pace, with monkeys travelling to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore (not to mention to Enterprise Nation!). However, Emma’s business story began after she needed to raise some cash to buy a second-hand car after passing her driving test.
“Facebook is perfect for gaining worldwide exposure,” she says – and with more than 4,500 likes, Emma has an engaged community keen to see the latest designs and hear her news. She also has an Etsy shop and is a member of The Artisan Group in LA, which participates in gift lounges prior to events such as The Oscars and The Golden Globes. Through membership of this group, Emma has been able to send her products to celebrities such as Beyoncé and Jessica Alba.
A key part to the success of Sock Monkey Emporium is the quality of the products Emma makes and the customer service on offer: “Repeat customers are very important and supplying a quality product along with good customer service is key,” she explains. Emma works alone and every monkey is handmade, meaning this business owner has to plan her time effectively to be able to supply orders and make as many monkeys as possible.
“I have had to withdraw from supplying shops as demand for monkeys is so high. I have adapted my selling policy so I am able to make as much stock as possible during the week to take with me to craft fairs and then sell the remaining stock on Facebook the same evening. Custom orders are carried out from September 1st to allow people to get monkeys for Christmas gifts.”
Emma has ambitious plans for Sock Monkey Emporium: “I would like to make more business mascots as it allows me to explore my creativity. I have also started making handbags from upcycled men’s ties and would like to be able to make more of these.”
With so much in the pipeline, this busy monkey is staying safely out of trouble!
Emma’s top tip!
“Embrace social media. I have not had to pay for any marketing or promotional campaigns yet I am able to sell on a global platform!”
Buy Make Money from Makes from £3.50
Published in association with Prima Magazine, Make Money from Makes is the ultimate guide to turning your hobby into a business. It’s available as both an ebook and a print book from the Enterprise Nation shop.