4 smart and cheap ways to start your business

Starting a new business can be as scary as it is exciting. You have a great idea, some great products or maybe even just the beginnings of a business model. You’re ready to take the next step, to make your business idea a business reality. But how to start a business?

Here are four ideas that let you test and develop your business in a relatively low-risk way.

Market stalls

An old-school, traditional market stall can be a great way to start your retail business.

We spoke to Nitty Brown, Business Manager at the online market directory, Markets and Community about the benefits of markets.

Brown says the best thing to do is “think of going to market as your market research”.

“A market is probably the first place you should trial your product as it helps you conduct research on price, packaging, target market and buyer behaviour towards your products,” she says.

“Observe your customers carefully, what are they looking at, are they reading your labels, are they attracted to the aesthetics of your products and packaging.  You can even try to speak to some of the customers and ask them what they think about the price, packaging and product.”

Markets can be a cost effective way to test and promote your product. If you find the right market for your product, it can give you invaluable insights into your customers.

Online markets

Finding potential customers online can be tricky, especially if you don’t have much money or time to spend on marketing. This is where online market places come in.

Sites such as Etsy  and Made It expose you to a global audience of potential buyers.

Nitty Brown says online market places offer a “cheap way to distribute your products online with advertising and exposure included”, however you need  “quality images to promote your products”.

They also provide users with free educational material on how to promote your listings and ensure your products and brand come up in searches.

Pop-up shops

Pop-up shops are the new, big thing and are quite literally popping up everywhere. They are temporary retail spaces with very short leases (a day, a week, a month) and can be found in major shopping areas, art spaces or any suitable disused space.

Nitty Brown says pop-ups help extend your reach.

“It is a way of saying you can purchase these gorgeous products at your local craft market or online through stores like Etsy or Made It,” she says.

To make it work, though, you need a clear sense of brand – who are you and what are you selling – so it’s clear to passersby what you offer. Obviously finding a good location with lots of potential customers is critical.

The MANY cooperative in WA is one such location.

Coworking space

Coworking is another way of taking your business to the next level without having to take out a long-term lease.

Coworking spaces give you access to a communal working space where you can meet and collaborate with like-minded start-ups.

It’s often a great place to network and most co-working spaces offer free lectures, seminars and events on all aspects of running a business.

The other benefit is access to professional spaces and equipment such as meeting rooms, photocopiers, printers and – of course – fast internet access.

In the early stages of a business you need to minimize costs and maximize exposure. Most importantly, you need to test your idea and respond to feedback.

So, if you are thinking of stepping out into the big, wide world of business some of the above ideas may be just right for you. Of course, you could always do a combination of all four.