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How to save money when starting a business

Today’s technology can help you pinch pennies as you get your company off the ground

As an entrepreneur, you are by nature an innovative problem-solver. Finding unique solutions to spend as little money as possible when taking your startup from ideation to development will allow you to invest more in your company’s future. Thankfully, today’s digital economy offers many ways to help you pinch pennies when you are just starting up.

Work remotely

Working remotely is one of the easiest ways to save money when starting your business. With today’s technology making it possible to work from almost anywhere, running your business remotely allows you to avoid the costs of renting and maintaining commercial office space.

“The digital economy has meant more Canadians are working remotely, freelancing or starting businesses,” says David Hamilton, Managing Director at Lab T.O., a co-working space in Toronto.

Working from home or at local public spaces, like coffee shops or libraries, are popular remote work choices. But if such locations don’t work for you, co-working spaces are great alternatives. An innovative solution allowing workers to make their own schedules, co-working spaces include desks, cubicles, meeting rooms and offices to suit their specific needs.

To make the most of remote work, wherever you choose to do it, download the right tools and apps to help you be your most productive self. Talk to your team using Slack, a phone and desktop messaging app that allows for individual and group messaging, as well as file uploading and sharing.

Seeing your team face-to-face can happen with the click of a button—instead of an hour-long commute to the office—with tools like Google Hangouts and Zoom. You can use these tools for video conferencing, webinars, instant messaging and phone calls. You can even use a Google Hangouts plugin in Slack.

Bring your own device(s) (BYOD)

If working remotely is not an option for your startup, consider making your office a BYOD-friendly environment. Having employees bring their own devices to work will cut down on your equipment costs. Further, employees will be more comfortable with the devices they’re already using, which can increase their effectiveness and efficiency.

Beyond the startup ecosystem, many other businesses and organizations are adopting BYOD policies. In 2015, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, together with the British Columbia and Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioners, issued Is a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Program the Right Choice for Your Organization? This document outlines security and privacy considerations associated with, and recommendations for, adopting a BYOD model.

Become a fan of free software

In today’s competitive digital market, more and more software companies are offering free tools and services to try to outdo their competitors. These free versions often lack premium features but still provide all the tools you need in a basic package. Not only can free software options save you money, but they can also help you decide whether or not to invest in more advanced software solutions down the road.

Consider these free software tools as you get your business off the ground:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform HubSpot lets you track and store sales leads, marketing software and customer information; this can help you and your employees make informed decisions and build lasting relationships. HubSpot also offers plans for a general CRM tool, a Marketing Hub and a Sales Hub.
  • Hootsuite is designed to take care of social media scheduling. Free plans include three social profiles, analytics, thirty scheduled messages and two RSS feed integrations. It also offers free social media courses to get you and your team up to speed on the latest in social media know-how.
  • For all your graphics needs, check out Canva—it’s like a free, basic version of Adobe Photoshop.
  • On its free plan, Slack offers users 5GB of storage, but with only the most recent 10,000 messages remaining searchable. For a small business, this is still great value for a tool that keeps team members constantly communicating with one another.
  • Grammarly can help you craft perfect emails, strategies, campaigns and other professional correspondence directed towards your audience.
  • MailChimp is your go-to service for creating easily digestible newsletter campaigns. MailChimp’s Free Forever Plan allows you to sign up a maximum of 2,000 subscribers and to send 12,000 emails per month.
  • With up to 30GB of data storage and a free email platform, Gmail and Google Drive together offer a great beginning point for startups. You can also access Google Forms, Google Presentation, Google Play and more with Gmail setup.

Take advantage of online education

Skill development and training are important at any stage of your business journey, but especially early on when you may be working with very limited capital. Investing in broadening your skillset early will save you money in the long-run, too, as you’ll be able to manage a variety of roles and tasks without paying for a lot of outside resources.

A quick Google search will find hundreds of online learning resources, such as Coursera and LinkedIn Learning, available at little or no cost, so you can enhance your knowledge in any area of your industry.

Every little bit counts

There's no avoiding the fact that running a business costs money. However, finding small ways to spend less from the very beginning will help you scale faster and create invaluable cost-cutting habits. These good habits will continue to save you money as you grow.