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How to Start a Business for Free

How to Start a Business for Free

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Apr 12, 2011
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02/03/2013

 
Apr 11, 2011 6:00 pm
 
How to Start a Business for Free
Two and a half years ago I wrote about the economic difficulties facing the modernsmall-business owner,and, well, it looks like nothing has changed since then.Times are still tough, money is tight, and starting your own new business takes aniron gut.
What has changed is the technological landscape--with social networking and mobility now critical themes in the startup world. Everything from raising money to finding staff to getting theword out about your business has evolved with the times, even if your wallet hasn't.How do you start a business today with practically nothing besides a good idea and a lot of freetime? By following this advice.
Raise Money From Your Neighbors
Writing a business plan is for suckers. Today the hottestway to raise money for your startup--provided that youdon't need a whole lot of it--is withKickstarter,a crowdsourced fundraising (aka "crowdfunding") systemthat can help you collect any sum from a few hundredbucks to almost a million. All of the seed money comesfrom the plebes...if you can prove yourself worthy of their investment. Funds must go to "projects," notongoing businesses, so if you're trying to launch a comicbook or design a prototype iPad sleeve, Kickstarter is a good bet.People whose aspirations have more of a business focus may considerProfounder,  which employs much the same idea as Kickstarter for entrepreneurs with ongoingoperational designs.
 
Get Your Product Produced on the Cheap
Going into the world of invention and manufacturing? Have a genius idea for anew class of product--but no idea how to get it built on the scale required forselling to the Walmarts of the world? Offshore manufacturing is now a viableoption for even small shops, though sky-high transportation costs and politicalstruggles worldwide haveput some pressure on this tactic by eating into the cost savings of sending piecework to China, India, or other distant destinations. (Hint:Try Mexico instead.)Offshore manufacturing lacks the turnkey Web services that other sectors of thebusiness world now boast, and online directories of offshore service providersseem awfully spammy; your best bet may be a simple Web search for offshoremanufacturing providers using the country of your choice as a keyword.Googling "offshore manufacturing
countryname
" reveals credible providers likeChinaSavvy, MagicPrecision Taiwan,and thePhilippines Business Processing Association.Getting services up and running can be time consuming, but usingthem can make the difference between crafting a high-quality product on a largescale and whittling widgets by hand out of driftwood.
Office Squatting
The true startup cheapskate sets up shop in the basement, in the garage, or on theliving room couch. But if those options don't cut it, check outLiquidSpace,which offers short-term, part-time, and temporary workspace options ranging from fullbusiness centers to unused conference room tables. An iPhone app makes it easy tofind the nearest available place to squat.Loosecubes offers similar features, but it isn'tdesigned for mobile users. Naturally, if the prospectof spending even a dime on your desk rental fills youwith horror, there's always free Wi-Fi at Starbucks.
Find Workers Around the World
 
You can outsource manufacturing--and you canhire someone anywhere to do justabout any other job you can imagine, too. If you're comfortable giving the work tosomeone whom you won't be interacting with physically--and who may not evenspeak English--a host of online services will help you find a warm body whopossesses the skills you need.Elance is probably the most visible outsourcing site, andoDesk  andGuru offer similar services. All three sites are set up to help you find contract work via a systemwhere you can post your job and invite users to bid ondoing the work. Those in the know say that your bestbet is to search through contractor résumé pages andportfolios until you find the best candidate for the task,and then to approach that individual directly with anoffer. Cattle call job postings on outsourcing sites rarelyend with your drumming up any decent applicants at all(as I can attest from my own experience), and thewasted effort delays your project and costs you extra money.Another hiring tip: Craigslist remains a rich market for talent, but the associatedfees can add up.A job posting in the San Francisco Bay Area costs $75; but in allother major metropolitan areas, the cost is just $25. If you need talent that canwork anywhere, post the job in New York or Los Angeles; work-at-home typesaround the country are likely to search those major hubs for listings, even if theylive in San Francisco.
Market Your Business for Nothing
Absolutely no surprise here: Social networks are where all the action is in theworld of low-budget marketing. But updating a blog, a Facebook page, and aTwitter account doesn't have to be a time sink. Though you still need them all, nowyou can easily link them together.Starting with your blog, Facebook can now (finally) automatically pull contentfrom it and repost on your business Fan Page. Start by going to your business'sPage (I assume that you have one already), and click 
Use Facebook as
your

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