I’m only on a six month contract with my current employer, and as much as I love my job (and I hope that they are happy with me), I can’t be sure that my contract will be renewed in November, either temporarily or permanently. Never one to sit and wait for good things to come to me, I’m making plans for possibly launching my own consulting business* if and when my contract finishes.
Of course, I don’t have a lot of money with which to splash out on fancy stuff. Not to mention that, having lived through several business booms and busts, I’ve seen what happens when small companies over invest in ‘stuff’ rather than ideas. So when, and if, I start a consulting business, I’m going to need to do so as frugally as possible.
The most important tool for me when starting a new activity has always been networking. Through the networking association that I belong to I have made some invaluable contacts, including the designer of the squirrel logo for Almost Frugal. I’ve also met marketing and communication consultants, HR managers, cold sales experts and so on. The contacts that I’ve made will not only serve as a possible introduction to others, but more importantly, as a guide to how successful business are run.
The association that I belong to happens to be for English speaking women in the Grenoble area, but other groups are all over the place. You might try the local Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary club, your religious organization or even the PTA at you kids’ school. Any group in which you take an active and regular role will be a source of good, frugal, leads for your new business.
Networking is not strictly related to offline activities. Online activities, of which blogging is one of course, are a great frugal way to spread the word about your own business, whether it’s the Etsy user groups that help Etsy sellers network and find customers, or Twitter, on which it’s becoming more and more common to see overtly commercial messages.
Another very important tool for any (new) business is a well designed business card, and I have to say that I am in love with Moo and their business and greeting cards. I am not affiliated with them in any way, but I have ordered business cards from them before, as well as seen cards ordered by my friends. I love the way they look, and the price is more than reasonable, especially considering that you can order cards in denominations of 50. Finally, as a prospective consultant, I’m not going to be looking to rent a fancy office, nor any office at all in fact. I’ll also be making do with my run of the mill laptop and getting my printing done at the French equivilent of Kinkos.
I know that I’m not the only person trying to start my own business- some of the best advice you hear when you’re trying to balance your budget is to earn more money. So what are your frugal tips to starting your own business? How are you going to (or how did you become) a success?
*I can’t start my own business, or work for another employer, while I’m still under contract with my current company as I have an exclusivity clause in my contract. I do have the right to work on my blogs, and two projects that I had already started before beginning work with my current job. Similarly, if my contract is renewed, I either have to try to renegotiate it or give up on the idea of starting my own consulting company.