Start-Up On A Shoestring

Got a business idea, but worry about how to get your Insta just right? Forget about the details and focus on the big prize.

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Got a business idea, but worry about how to get your Insta just right? Forget about the details and focus on the big prize.


Start-Up On A Shoestring

Got a business idea, but worry about how to get your Insta just right? Forget about the details and focus on the big prize.

Share this article

Amidst the ping pong tables, beer taps and Steve Jobs’ wardrobes, somehow the idea that you don’t need a bucketful of cash to start and run a successful business has got lost.

There’s an instant image that springs to mind when you think of the word ‘entrepreneur’, usually a man in his 20s, a bit flashy and wearing jeans and a t-shirt. A big part of the problem is that people have become so fixated on the idea of owning a business that the purpose and value of whatever business that might be has become second-best.

I can happily confirm that I don’t fit into the profile of the ‘serial entrepreneur’, but what I did have was a purpose. I had a tangible figure written down on a piece of paper of how much money I needed to make to send my children to a great school, and I had a deadline of the term dates to make that money.

This (along with £600 and my kitchen table) gave me a laser focus that I feel is getting lost these days in a landscape where having a certain number of likes on an Instagram post about setting up your business is more valuable than the idea itself and how it’s executed.

You don’t need a fortune in the bank to start a business. You don’t need to spend six months agonising over a font to make a success out of your idea. What you do need is to get on with it. But for those who don’t have a big team of investors and experienced professionals behind them, this can be daunting.

It’s easy to procrastinate if you don’t know where to start, so here are three top tips about how to get off the ground when you’re going solo and trying to do as much as possible for the least amount of budget.


Forget about the likes, focus on your own priorities

Be specific and clear in your vision

By this I don’t mean paint how you’re going to change the world on the wall of your office (or kitchen). Get real about what you need to achieve and by when.

Ask yourself honestly what does success mean to you? What do I really care about and what will make me carry on when things get tough? For me, once the original objective of paying the school fees had been achieved I re-established my goals and my reasons for carrying on.

Now, supporting other small businesses and founders gives me that same drive and sense of purpose.

Break it down into bitesize chunks

You don’t have to tackle every problem on day one, but by breaking down each mammoth task into manageable actions you can effectively figure out where you need to start.

That might be by creating a list of the things you don’t know how to do and working out how you can change that.

The Business and IP Centre, run through the British Library and with centres scattered across the UK, is an amazing (and mostly free) option which houses thousands of resources and runs talks and workshops on everything from market research and advertising to trademarking and branding.

The team are both highly knowledgeable and extremely welcoming and will help you to fill in the gaps in your knowledge.

Get on with it

You hear so many stories of start-ups spending months (and thousands of pounds) agonising over a logo and a brand name before they’ve even really got a viable business. I created the logo for the Cambridge Satchel Company in Microsoft Word.

I gave myself half an hour, ended up doing it in twenty minutes and it still stands today. I still get a rush of pride whenever I look at it because I remember the excitement I felt knowing I’d created it with my own two hands.

Alarm clock

Time waits for no one, so get going on your business now

Somewhere along the way, people have lost their bravery. YOU are the person who knows what’s best for your business.

It takes confidence to tackle every aspect yourself but that will more than pay off when you know it inside out and have created something totally unique, because it’s come from you, and not a team of ‘experts’ who have done a similar thing one hundred times over.

Having a tight budget to set up a business with is not a bad thing. It can be a real asset to you, forcing you to meet tight deadlines and trust your gut rather than spend weeks or months making single decisions.

It also guarantees that you’re doing it for more than money, it’ll mean you really, truly care and believe in it if you’re poring over Google Analytics at 3am, and despite being down to your last £50 you stick at it.

That’s what makes a real entrepreneur, not just a pair of ‘cool’ trainers and a ping pong bat.

Julie Deane is founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company.

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Start-Up On A Shoestring

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