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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Staring Your Own Small-Business Doesn’t Have to Put You in Debt!

by Carla Cooper1446153_67635331

A lot of people dream of having their own business; being their own boss.  There are advantages to being self-employed.  That list could be another blog post in and of itself.  When I first decided that I wanted to start my own business, the idea, though exciting, seemed to be a daunting task.  I mean one needs money, and lots of it to get a business off the ground; right?  Wrong!  Granted it depends on the business, but in the case of a service offered business, it doesn’t have to be something that will break the bank. 

Here are the steps and challenges that I faced in my journey to get my business off the ground.  In my case, I was blessed to have a good friend give me the software I need to do bookkeeping for my clients.  I already own a computer, which is more than sufficient to use as a personal as well as a business computer.  I will be operating from home, so there will not be any office overhead. 

Then I needed some equipment.  First, a multi-function machine (color laser printer / fax / copier / scanner).  For this, I waited until a discontinued model went on sale at Staples.  I got it at a fantastic price.  It’s not a large sized model, so it’s perfect for a small office like mine.  Secondly, I needed an adding machine.  I got a moderately priced model, also at Staples

Then I needed some basic business supplies, which doesn’t have to cost much either.  I got a case of paper for my new printer at Costco, which is a much lower price than at Staples.  Some other basic supplies I got at the dollar store; things like staples, tape, file folders, notebooks, clipboards.  I purchased some self-printing business cards, designed my own, and printed them on my new printer. 

I got a new business phone line installed.  I called my cable and internet company and got their lowest priced basic home phone service.  I had an old answering machine packed away in a storage bin, so I am using it instead of paying for a voice mail service with the phone company. 

I already had a couple of small filing cabinets for personal file storage, so I weeded out some old files files, and shredded them, to make sufficient space for some client and business files. 

I registered my business for GST (Goods & Services Tax) / HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) in Canada; a free service.  Also, an expected expense that didn’t occur in the end was when I called the City of Barrie to get a business license and was told, that I didn’t need one. Go Barrie!

I considered opening a business bank account, but decided against it after reading the “Guide for Canadian Small Businesses” by the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency).  As a sole-proprietor operating under my own name instead of a registered business name, I don’t need a business bank account that has high service fees. 

Next, I registered with a company called Square; for the service that allows me to accept credit cards from clients for payment.  It is the perfect service for small businesses.  It allows you to accept credit cards from clients with the use of a small card reader that you plug into your smart phone.  The fees are very low at only 2.75%.  That’s only $2.75 on $100.00.  Very acceptable expense for a small business. 

The next thing that most businesses need these days is an online presence.  I created this basic website thanks to Blogger.com.  They have very user-friendly templates that you can use and create your own website/blog for free.  Plus, there’s no monthly hosting fee either. 

Next, I created a Facebook page for a social media presence; also a free service. 

Finally, I needed a logo.  I’m pretty good with computer things, and design, so I sat down one day and played with some shapes and colors until I came up with a logo that I liked. 

With all the basics in place to begin all I needed was some advertising.  My first choice was to put an ad on Kijiji; also a free service.  As a result of this ad, 411.ca saw my ad, called me, and offered me a wonderful low-cost deal on advertising with them.

Some final notes to think about are:  Many people, when starting their own business, want to start with a professionally prepared business plan; which is a fantastic idea.  However, this can cost thousands of dollars, and for me, it just wasn’t in the budget.  Plus, if you have a business where you are selling products you will need money for inventory as well.  For example, I am also an author.  I have to buy my books at cost, so I can sell them to customers.  This requires money for my inventory of books. How much this will cost you, depends on what your inventory is and how much you want to buy to start.

This is my business start up story in a nutshell.  I am a small-business sole-proprietor, who operates part-time.  It didn’t cost me a lot of money.  I am flying by the seat of my pants in regards that I don’t have a business plan, but it’s working anyway.  So you see, it doesn’t have to cost you much to become an entrepreneur; to be your own boss; to set your own hours.  It’s worth it, even if you choose to just have a part-time business. 

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