Are you looking to start a new business?
Starting a new business isn’t easy. It can also get very expensive. You will need some basic tools to get started and they don’t need to break the bank. There are many ways to start on a budget.
You will need to cover all the basics: Computer, Email, Notebook, Printer – just to name a few. On the technology side, I can help to recommend a few items to get you started for little to no cost. The only investment is a little time to learn. If you need training on any of these items, we are always ready to help.
Along with the technology basics, another need you will have is a means of marketing your new endeavor. This too does not need to cost a lot of money. You definitely want to make sure the time and effort you invest in the beginning will not go to waste.
Here are some great resources for you – Quite a few can start off free – and grow in capability (and price) as your business needs grow.
Computer – You probably already have a computer, so we will make the assumption you are good to go. You will definitely want a virus program installed. If you have high speed internet many service providers offer free virus software for their clients. The added support offering can be quite good as well (your mileage may vary). Some of the providers offer service that is quite good (nods to Cox Cable).
Data – The next thing is a way to save your data and have it backed up or you. One of the easiest ways is to use a cloud data service. There are many to choose from including: Drop Box, Skydrive, Box.net, Copy to name a few. Each has their plus and minuses. They all offer a free edition for personal use. Once you start to use for business, you will benefit by upgrading to one of the paid offerings.
If you need to access your files, you can log on to their website and access from any computer with a web browser. There is also an app for your smart phone.
From my experience, I would start off with Drop Box – and refer the service to your friends. Each referral will give you an additional 500 MB to use.
Next up, Email – There are quite a few services for free email. One of the most popular is GMail with Outlook.com not far behind. I have tested and used both offerings. The nod on this one goes to Outlook.com. The lack of advertisements and the ability to migrate seamlessly to Office 365 are two big plusses in my book. While both offer MAPI services (sync between devices) the capabilities with the hosted exchange service from Microsoft seem a bit more polished – if you are used to using Microsoft Exchange (business email).
Note taking – Another key item you will likely start to use quite a bit is a note book. Why use pen and paper? With todays technology note taking has a whole new meaning. Applications like Evernote and OneNote make note taking easy, centralized and one of the most important features – searchable! These online notebooks will sync your files between device (just like Drop Box) and you can access your notes from any computer too! If you have a table computer, you can still use a stylus and take notes the old fashioned way. The built in character recognition is pretty good so you can easily convert your hand written notes to typed text.
Now you have the basics covered… time to start marketing your new business! Get a website!
While many people tend to choose the various social media platforms to market their business, there is no replacing your own web site. The social media platforms keep changing their rules, making it harder for non paying businesses to compete on a level playing field.
Purchasing your domain name is rather inexpensive. Even if you are just thinking about starting out, look to purchase your domain name and get it before someone else does. Stick to the top level domains (.com and .net) I wouldn’t worry about the other vanity domains for now.
You can use a starter page, which is relatively easy to setup, while you work on getting the proper resources lined up for a professional site.
I recommend using WordPress. This platform is relatively easy to use. You can even start out with a free wordpress.com account and try it out.
As your business grows, and the needs for your business grow, WordPress is very extensible and can grow with you. There are a LOT of consulting resources and forums to help you along the way too!
Consulting – as you grow, and your needs change, you will want to focus on your core competencies. This will allow you more time to focus on your business and less time worrying about the technical side of things. A great free resource is SCORE. They are executives and entrepreneurs that help out business that are just starting, or looking to grow.
From the beginning – starting a new business – to the growth and expansion – we are here to help! Let us know if you have any questions.
Leave a comment and tell us about any of these items you may have used – or any other options I didn’t list. This is just a quick post that brushes the surface of technology solutions. Good Luck!
P.S. – I am doing a presentation on these subjects for SCORE. I will post a link to the presentation afterwards.