How to Start a Small Business on a Shoestring Budget

September 07, 2017
Businessman at Desk

Have you ever had an idea for a small business? Maybe it’s a unique product you believe would be a hit, or a brick-and-mortar storefront that would provide a needed service to a neighborhood.

For those would-be entrepreneurs who actually take steps to realize their business idea, however, many eventually hit a brick wall. Financing a business startup can often prove too big of an obstacle or present too much of a commitment in time and resources. As much as you may want to run your own small business, quitting your full-time job and mortgaging your home in order to get a business off the ground can be too much risk to take on.

But many businesses can be started on a shoestring budget without a full-time obligation. In fact, some of the best small business ideas can be found in favorite hobbies you’re already doing in your spare time. There are countless stories of entrepreneurs who turned their weekend passions into full-time, successful businesses. The key to a successful shoestring startup is to combine an activity you enjoy with an identified business niche.  It’s also wise to protect your new startup and its assets with the right business insurance, such as Nationwide’s businessowners policy (BOP), designed with the small business owner in mind.

Building a hobby into a business

Following a passion can be a key ingredient in a successful shoestring business, which is loosely defined as requiring less than $1,000 in startup costs. Such startups should not require special skills, or skills that can’t be acquired in a short time with the right resolve.

An example of a shoestring business might involve a person’s love of photography—the shutterbug who is always taking photos of family events or nature scenes. That passion could be parlayed into work in wedding photography, gaining experience by assisting an established photographer or building a portfolio by photographing friends’ or family members’ weddings for free. It’s also a business with working hours on the weekends, making it easier to manage with a full-time job.

Likewise, an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast could turn his passion into a business by leading tours as a field guide. Or, a dedicated knitter could build a following by selling her unique patterns and designs online.

Promoting your new business

Small business owners such as these are able to keep marketing expenses on a shoestring level by promoting themselves through word-of-mouth, or by designing a website on the cheap to help drive business. Social media sites such as  Instagram and Facebook are excellent tools to attract customers and are free—other than the time needed for posting content.

Harnessing the power of social media is a great no-cost way to promote a shoestring startup, such as one inspired by a love of food and cooking. Whether you enjoy baking desserts or re-creating beloved family recipes, posting a menu and photos of your day’s offerings and taking delivery orders can be done online or through popular mobile apps with no overhead costs required. A food-centric business such as this can also gain customers at farmers markets or as a street vendor tweeting out times and locations to followers.

Protecting your new business

While money can be tight for a startup, you shouldn’t cut costs when protecting your company and yourself from the risks involved with running a business. Luckily, Nationwide offers customized insurance solutions tailored to your budget and needs. Learn more about how small business insurance can help build and protect your company, and request an online quote today.

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