When you are starting any venture, money can be a tricky part of the deal. Of course, you have your bills and rent and equipment to pay for. But beyond all these things, you also need resources that lead you to knowledge and learning to help you grow. Paying for these resources right at the outset could be quite a challenge. However, there are several free resources available that could help you through to the next level.
Libraries, Community Centres and Public Organizations
For decades, Libraries and community centres have been a central part of society. Libraries could be a great place to start. They always have numerous books, publications and periodicals on any topic that is of interest or relevance to you. You might also be able to access information manuals, and research journals for business and technical information from your local library. Community centres are great spaces to network and make new contacts. Often, local community centres hold regular events and workshops that are useful for both entrepreneurs and businesses. Public organizations like governments, schools, or service centres offer financial services or legal advice to new businesses for free. These services provide valuable support and help avoid costly private alternatives for start ups.
PRO TIP: If you can’t find what you’re looking for in your local library, always mention it to the librarian. Most likely, they will be able to direct you to a place where the resource will be available.
The tentacles of social media spread far and wide – or so they say. Social media can connect you to the audience or spread news about your company quickly. Whether you are looking to advertise your new product, build a portfolio of videos or pictures, or get an advice or opinion from people, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram provide free online exposure for multiple start up needs and uses.
PRO TIP: If you find it too overwhelming to be on several social media platforms, learn Twitter and LinkedIn. Statistics suggest entrepreneurs rely on these the most when it comes to business mingling.
Family and friends
Networking 101. Your network starts with your family and friends. Remember that course in networking that talked about “warm prospects”? Your family and friends will not just be your first customers, they will also be the people you will turn to when you need help – whether it is to move into your parent’s basement or to use the spare bedroom in your girlfriend’s apartment as a temporary office space. Remember, they can also be counted to share with you their business experiences, offer an extra hand when needed, lend money in an emergency, or encourage you to move ahead.
PRO TIP: Whenever you start looking for business customers, approach family and friends first. They can always vouch for your honesty and integrity, which will make initial sales very easy.
In every big city, networking groups meet regularly to share their knowledge, tips, and news. In addition to making new contacts and community groups, these events also help with practicing your “elevator talks” and other introductions to the point you become comfortable saying them in front of actual customers and large audiences. Many of these events are often free to attend and could help with making important connections, gathering experience, or finding that office space you’ve been looking for.
PRO TIP: Whenever you choose to attend a networking event, always go armed with more than necessary business cards. Not only does it make you look professional, but you never know who might be impressed enough to want to do business with you.
Open source software
If you are someone looking to design a logo or create a brochure or website for your start up, and every quote you’ve received from a professional seems way out of your budget, you might want to explore multiple open source software options. Many like OpenOffice, Krita, or Inkscape are available for free and can help your company obtain the right brand image and identity.
PRO TIP: It might be wise to shortlist all the Open source software available and do a feature comparison to determine which software bests suits your needs.
Mandeep Badesha | The Edge Blog