Shoestring Creativity: How to Launch Your Product on a Budget

Shoestring CreativityNo matter how much money you have to start your business, it will never seem like enough. Different types of businesses require different levels of funding to get off the ground.

When you have limited money it takes more creativity and time to get things moving but it can be done. For service businesses, often a computer and some business cards and some basic supplies can get you started. Product businesses are a little harder to start with only a little money. Without significant startup money it would be hard to manufacture overseas but you could probably find a manufacturer in the United States that will work with you on lower volumes. You may have to pay a little more per unit but you can keep your overall cost down.

Other money saving ideas:

  • Work from home rather than renting an office space.
  • Use free boxes from shippers like the USPS to keep shipping fees down.
  • Ask family and friends for extra packing supplies. Many people throw away bubble wrap and packing paper. Ask if you can have it instead.
  • Enroll in savings and ink recycling plans at office supply stores.
  • Search for your supplies online at different stores. For example, Walmart and Target carry many office supplies online that they don’t carry in the stores. Often, their online prices are lower than you can find locally.
  • Print business cards, stationery and brochures yourself. You will avoid minimum quantities. As you are starting a business you will want to tweak your marketing materials fairly often. If you can print small batches yourself, you will be able to make those changes more effectively than if you have to use up 250 brochures before you can print more.
  • If you are starting your business by yourself, consider hiring a virtual assistant to proof read materials before you send it to a printer. Their hourly fee is certainly less than the cost of a print run that you must reproduce because of a typing error.
  • Use services like SCORE for free business advice.
  • Start as a service business then add product sales. Service businesses, like marketing, web design and public relations consulting, are easier to start on a limited budget than a product business. For service businesses, often a computer, business cards and some basic office supplies can get you started. If you want to start selling products, add them to the business after the service aspects are established and profitable.
  • Bartering is one of the best ways to get the items you need for a business. You may offer a website designer your services for free and they will then help you develop your website at no cost.Look for local community small business groups to join. Often groups are eligible for reduced fees at other businesses.
  • Buy used or refurbished office equipment.
  • Pay your bills online and use online shipping to enjoy discounted postage rates.
  • Review your bills regularly and look for ways to combine services. For example, we use Ring Central ( for our toll free number for Mini Me Geology. We were able to eliminate our local business telephone service by adding our local business number to Ring Central for only five dollars per month. Ring Central also accepts faxes electronically, which saves us the cost of paper and ink.
  • Find a few, high quality vendors to save on shipping costs. If you can purchase all of your office and shipping supplies from one vendor rather than two or three you can save on shipping fees and ordering time.
  • Purchase business checks from private printers rather than directly from the bank.
  • Gather bids from at least three vendors when you are locating a new source for a particular product, part or service. Let the vendors know that you are receiving multiple bids so that they can offer their best price. Once you find a quality vendor, stick with them for the long term if possible.
  • If you own a brick and mortar store, share advertising with neighboring businesses to cut the cost.

If you have other money saving tips as you start your business that we should add to this list. We’d love to hear them in the comments or on Facebook.


About Tracy_Barnhart

I was born and raised in Princeton, West Virginia. Both of my parents were scientists and educators. My mother was a middle school biology teacher and my father taught chemistry at a nearby university. I remember doing a 6th grade science project on plate tectonics but I never knew that I was headed toward geology. I attended Furman University, planning to be a business major. Since it’s a liberal arts school the students must fulfill a series of science requirements so I chose two geology classes my freshman year. It was during those classes that I realized that geology was fun, but microeconimics made me want to scratch my eyes until they bleed. After Furman, I received a Master’s degree in Geology at the University of South Carolina where I specialized in groundwater computer modeling. I have been a professional geologist for almost 20 years now. Yikes! It feels weird to put that in writing. I work with environmental companies to assist with the assessment of soil and groundwater contamination. If a property has contamination, I work with engineers to design and implement a remediation system. Several years ago, I took my love of rocks and minerals and turned it into a small business. Our line of rocks, minerals and fossils keep me busy when I’m not assessment contaminated properties. You can find out more about my business at
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4 Responses to Shoestring Creativity: How to Launch Your Product on a Budget

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  3. Gayle Rupp says:

    This actually answered my drawback, thanks!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Enjoyed reading through this, very good stuff, thankyou .

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