Got dreams of starting your own retail business, but haven’t got the funds to make it happen? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need lots of money to make money – even with a retail business which requires you to keep a stock of inventory, there are still ways to save money when starting up without sacrificing your professionalism. Here are just a few trick for starting a retail business on a budget.
Start without a physical store
Every budding retail entrepreneur wants to have their own physical store, but you may have to delay this expense if you’re on a shoestring. A physical store comes with running costs such as rent/mortgage, energy bills and various maintenance costs. You’re far better off starting as an online business or renting a stall first and then later expanding and buying a physical store when you have the money. Many successful retail giants started this way – it takes patience, but could avoid you getting into lots of debt to begin with.
Running an online retail business is fairly straightforward – your main running costs are likely to be packaging and outsourcing a delivery service. People shopping online want fast deliveries, so finding a good courier is important.
As for operating from a stall, you may have to rent a market stall space, however this overhead is likely to be very cheap compared to renting a shop.
It’s possible to run a stall and an online business simultaneously. This could give you the best of both markets and help you to raise the profits to expand more quickly.
Keep your inventory small at first
You don’t want to be stocking a huge range of inventory to start with – neither do you want a huge amount of each product. Until you know what sells well and what doesn’t, keep a limited inventory. It will cost you less when stocking up on this inventory and you won’t need as much storage space. It will also be easier to keep track of. If you’re selling handmade goods, it may benefit you to similarly limit the materials or ingredients that you use. As your business starts to grow in popularity, you can then start to expand your inventory and offer more to your customers. Be careful if you’re going into high-end retail as you’re inventory is likely to cost much more to buy in.
Make use of free software
There are free ecommerce platforms that you can use when starting an online store. This could save you huge costs when starting your business. There are also free accounting programmes available to download on the web. As you grow you may decide you want something more complex, but when it comes to running a startup most of these free platforms are perfectly suitable and may be all you need. Read reviews before using these free programmes so that you can be sure that they’re reliable as there are some freebies out there that you don’t want to be using.
Market yourself for cheap
You don’t need to hire a marketing company in the beginning – there are lots of DIY marketing methods that are much cheaper and just as effective when starting up.
On top of owning a website, it’s worth setting up social media pages such as a Facebook page and Instagram page. These cost nothing to set up and can be great marketing platforms for posting news on promotions and products that you can offer. You can grow a following by inviting all your friends and family members to like your pages – this will help your company to look bigger and more credible. You can also pay to promote posts using Facebook’s advertising feature, helping you to reach out to strangers and generate new leads.
As for improving your search engine rankings, there are lots of DIY tricks for helping you to get more visitors. Starting a blog can give your website more content. You can also encourage other people to link to your sites on their own sites. You can even use Google’s paid web ad platform AdWords as a way of displaying your site at the top of Google’s rankings.
As for promoting your business offline, use networking to your advantage. Word of mouth can be very effective when owning a stall. You also be able to get local businesses to endorse you in exchange for endorsing them.
Consider borrowing money
Rather than saving up money to fund your business, you could always take out a loan. Business loans are a popular means of funding a startup and could prevent you from having to skimp as much to start with. You should shop around for business loans in order to get the best interest rates. Bank loans offer great interest rates, but may not be able to transfer the money immediately and may also require you to have a good credit rating. Private lenders may not have such strict requirements and may be able to offer you the money you need more quickly, but may charge higher interest rates.
Ask investors for funding
Another means of funding your business on a shoestring could be to get money from investors. In order to persuade investors to fund your startup, you’ll likely have to offer them some kind of incentive such as giving them shares in your profits. Most investors will want to see evidence that your company has the potential to be successful. You can approach investors in-person or you can find them online. Crowdfunding is one effective way of seeking investment that involves raising funds from multiple investors instead of just one single investor. These can be less intimidating and sometimes easier to get investment from.