Do you have a business idea that’s been nagging you for the last few years? According to the US Census Bureau, over 590,000 new start-up companies open their doors in the US each year. One of these could be yours.
Small companies and businesses take a lot of time and energy. You have to be passionate, diligent, and patient. You have to wear the hat of many different skilled employees, such as marketer, public relations person, CEO, CIO, etc. But perhaps most of all, you need to find a way to legitimize yourself in the eyes of your target consumers on a very low budget in order to thrive. Yet if you succeed in this, the results can be quite rewarding: be your own boss, make more money, and set your own hours.
Here are some resources to help you start-up that pet project of yours. Good luck!
Start Up Resources
- Small Business Administration (SBA): Check out the SBA website , for many free and low-cost resources for start-up companies. Free resources include: the Small Business Training Network (SBTN) with free courses such as accounting, marketing, and “Winning Government Contracts”; law and regulation compliance assistance, sale leads and more.
- Free Websites and Blogs: One way to quickly open up shop and legitimize your business is by starting a website. You can do this for free using Microsoft Small Business  or WordPress  (the one I recommend). Also, add a blog function to your website by periodically writing articles in your subject area. This will increase your legitimacy as an expert in your line of work. Next, submit your website/blog to google , to increase traffic to your site, thus increasing exposure.
- Free or Low-Cost Business Cards: There are many websites that offer free or low-cost business cards, which can increase your exposure as well as add to your company’s legitimacy. Check out Vista Prints , where you only need to pay shipping (approximately $3.99), BizCard .
- Open a Free Email Account: Add an email address that is just used for business purposes to a contact page on your website as well as on your business cards. You can get a free email account at Hotmail, Yahoo, etc. Or, if you want to have your email account correspond with your business name to look more professional, you can use the Google Apps for Business email  program.
- Free Accounting Software: Keeping track of expenses and profit is extremely important, especially in the beginning when you need to determine if your new business venture is making sense or has the potential to create a profit. Microsoft Office Accounting  offers free software for small businesses, or you can check out a discounted version of Quicken with the business  option.
What other free services have you found for your business?