When you start a business, if it is like most, you will need stuff to operate. Whether it be computers, desks, chairs, phones, coffee makers, you get the picture. If you want to increase your chances for success here are a few things you can do:
- Use what you already have – Chances are you already have a computer, you have a desk, you have a chair, you have a phone, and you have a coffee maker. Use what you can from what you already have to keep your expenses down. It might be inconvenient to share some of these items, but if you really believe in the business you are starting these sacrifices will be worth it.
- Buy used – This is a really a good rule for buying stuff in general personal or business. New loses its value, and often times is not any better than what you can find used. New becomes used the minute you start using it, so it’s really only New until you buy it. You can save a tremendous amount of money by being patient and finding the right deals. With that said you should always use discretion. If it seems like the deal is too good to be true, and has a certain smell to it, trust your intuition and move on. In this economy, businesses and individuals alike are looking to dump their assets for pennies on the dollar so there are some unbelievable deals out there that are for real. This past weekend I purchased a 1 year old Steelcase Leap chair for $220. The guy I bought it from payed $650 for it new a year ago and he treated it very well. He needed to move it quickly so I paid about $200 less than I should have. I could put it on eBay today for $400. The other nice thing about buying used is that items have already lost most of their value, so if you want to upgrade something you have purchased used, you can get most of what you paid for it back out. Craigslist and eBay are two great places to look, but don’t stop there. You can get good discounts at major retailers by purchasing open box items. They won’t be the very best deals, but still good nonetheless.
- Stay simple – Many of the things you think you will need, you don’t. For instance, you may thing you need big expensive filing cabinets, but you might be able to get a good document scanner instead. That would limit the space you need and is more scalable. If you need to keep the paper, get cardboard storage boxes to keep old paperwork in. Sure they might not be as attractive, but attractive isn’t important in this case, conserving cash and not being wasteful should be your priority. You don’t need polished and fancy to start out. Truthfully you never will. Focus on addressing the problem you need to solve instead of looking at the solution for what you think the problem is. Focusing on the solution is a wasteful approach. I speak from experience. The more simplified you make things, the easier it will be to go in different directions as your business matures.
- Always negotiate – The asking price is never the price. This even applies to retail stores. If where you arrive in the deal isn’t a win for you, then walk away. When negotiating, always try to focus on creating a win for both sides. You can do this by collecting information and understanding what the other party is trying to accomplish.
- Pay Cash – You can get better deals when you have cash in hand, and you won’t go into debt buying this stuff.
- Keep your finances separate – You don’t necessarily have to have a “business checking account.” If you are trying to see if your concept will work, there is no reason to incorporate and spend all the money to become a business, but you do need to keep good records. The easiest way to do this is to keep your “business” money in a different bank account. Buy all your stuff from this account.