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You have an awesome *idea* or a passion you want to pursue but maybe that’s all it is at this point in time, and you know it will take some capital to turn that idea into a legit business reality. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, most small businesses cost around $3,000 to start, while most home-based franchises cost $2,000 to $5,000.
If the thought of dropping thousands just to START gives you hives, I don’t blame you. Sure, you could get a small business loan, but then you end up paying interest at the same time as trying to profit from a new endeavor. Stress city, if you ask me. Instead, I pulled together 8 resources that will cover your marketing, invoicing, branding, graphics, systems, and legalities to get your business idea off the ground this month for less than $1500.
Actually, the total cost comes in under $1100… but I wanted to give you some wiggle room because as you’ll see, some things might cost more depending on your location or the service you choose to go with. I know $1100 isn’t a small chunk of money by any means, but it’s definitely more palatable than coughing up $5000 before ever knowing what your profitability might be.
#1: Flodesk to handle your email marketing.
It’s super important to grow your list even if you don’t have anything to launch or sell yet. With Flodesk, you can send beautiful emails using their amazingly easy and gorgeous templates… seriously, they’re some of the best I’ve seen in the game. Plus, they make it easy to house freebies for your audience to receive after signing up for your list – AND it can also serve as a website for those early days if you use one of their landing pages to communicate who you are, what you do, and then get people to subscribe right there.
Use your email list as market research, use it as a way to start serving, use it as a place to poll people. Start with building something you own and coming from a place of serving and you’ll grow a list you can launch to.
Flodesk is $38 per month but if you go to jennakutcher.com/flodesk, you can lock it at $19/month for the entire first year – no restrictions, no limits, unlimited everything and the best part? You can try it for free, no credit card required with their 30-day free trial! Test it out at jennakutcher.com/flodesk
#2: Canva to handle your graphics and branding needs.
Canva is our go-to resource for graphics and social media quotes, but you can use it for literally anything graphic or design related like creating a free guide as a PDF for a freebie to grow your list, or even to design your logo!
They have hundreds of free templates for any and all graphic design needs, and I think most people in the beginning stages can get away with the free version of Canva – BUT if you want a little more, the Pro version is $9.99 per month and you get access to even more templates, plus a brand kit, background remover, content planner and more.
#3: GoDaddy for your website domain.
Domains from GoDaddy can cost anywhere from $2 to $20, so we’ll call it an average of $11 for the cost of a domain. You want to secure a URL and site that’s easy to direct people to so that you have a simple place for people to learn more about who you are and what you provide.
Search and figure out what .com you can have and use for your business. Fun fact: I own over 75 domains, I literally think of ideas or URLS and buy them and use them, it’s a weird habit of mine but thankfully not too of an expensive hobby, but literally snatch up a URL that you can easily send people to and even if you don’t use it right away, you have it, you own it, it’s yours.
This doesn’t mean that you have to design a full-blown website at this point… in fact, I really believe you shouldn’t spend your time and money designing a website from top to bottom before you have these other pieces in place. Instead, take your domain and you can super easily forward it to the landing page you’ve built inside Flodesk that has a simple overview of what you do, plus a sign-up form to join your email list!
#4: Invest in beautiful photos.
We live in a world that eats with its eyes first, so having nice photos is important and can help elevate your offer or get your brand off the ground. Whether you do a mini branding session to get a beautiful headshot or you join a service like Social Squares to use professional stock photos that you can use to fit your brand, imagery will make a HUGE difference. I promise.
Branding sessions can range from $250 to $2000 or more depending on your location, the photographer and their experience, and how many photos you get. Or if you decide to go with a stock photo membership, my favorite option Social Squares starts at $39 per month for access to literally thousands of curated, beautiful images across multiple industries. We use these stock photos all over our brand from social to websites to freebie graphics and presentation slides! They are incredible. If you want to try social squares and get 20% off, use the code JENNASFRIENDS at socialsquares.com.
For our purposes of keeping this to a budget, I’m going to go with a $250 mini-branding session here, which puts our total at $290 so far.
#5: A project management platform like Monday.com.
This is something that took me years to invest in and man, I could kick myself now. Having a project management system for your business will change everything. I know it sounds dramatic and you’re probably stubborn like I was and thinking, “It’s just me, I don’t have a team, I can just run off of to-do lists and coffee!” Well, I thought the same thing and now I’m wondering how much more efficient and effective I could have been with my time and how many more systems and processes I could have created that I would have eventually been able to hand off to my team.
So we use a program called Monday. I can’t tell you how much of a game-changer it’s been for my business. We went from unorganized Google Docs all over the place with no system to having a systemized, organized way of tracking every single moving piece and project of the business, from weekly content planning to tracking and mapping out larger launches.
It’s a place to organize, track, and create systems so that when you get busy, you’re able to stay consistent and create a structure that will carry you forward AND have a process that you can hopefully, eventually hand off to someone else! Monday.com offers a free trial and then starts at $24 per month and you can get started for free, no credit card needed at jennalovesmonday.com.
#6: Honeybook for invoicing and client communication.
I put this one off, too, (notice a trend here?) I was reluctant to invest into things that would simplify or systemize and now looking back, I see how these things would have saved time, money, frustration, energy!
So Honeybook is an online hub for you business that allows you to have everything in one place and digitized and it also helps you serve your clients well. Something like Honeybook, known as a CRM or a customer relationship manager makes sense if you are more of a service-based business and you’re sending out invoices, contracts, and other consistent client communications.
It also lets you create workflows in one spot, store email templates, upload pricing guides, track leads, and follow up with clients seamlessly and professionally. It sure beats an old school filing system and snail mail that I started with, and it keeps everything in one spot for you and for your clients, you can get started without a credit card required and save 50% off your first year. The Starter plan begins at just $9 per month.
#7: A well-designed pricing guide or media kit.
When just starting out, charging for your products or services can feel scary. If you’re anything like me, talking money feels awkward and when someone asks, “How much does it cost?” you want to have a plan.
When I first started, I had a word document with my photography packages and it was all numbers, nothing else. Creating a guide that explains your offer, shows the value, and includes the prices can give you something to send that takes the pressure off of talking money and the best part is, you can create this intentionally once and use it over and over again.
Depending on your business type, a beautifully designed pricing guide or media kit can go a LONG way. We have customizable templates for both at $79 each and if you use code GOALDIGGER you’ll save an extra 20% bringing the cost down to 63.20 per guide.
Having a beautifully designed guide whether you buy one of my templates or create your own in Canva can be a simple way to look professional and to systemize the way you’re sharing pricing information with potential clients or providing brand information to potential partners. A lot of times, the most daunting parts of starting a business are the business-side of things, and so investing in or creating your own templates can be a lifesaver and can help express your offerings and value in a beautiful and thoughtful way!
#8: Invest in professional contracts and an LLC.
Lastly, starting off on the right foot! I hired an accountant before my business made a single dollar and they helped me set up my business, plan for profits, and save for taxes. Making sure you’re a legit LLC and investing in things like contracts to protect yourself and your new business can not only help you feel more legit, but can save you a ton of money in the long run!
This will likely be the steepest cost in starting your business, but for good reason. You want your business to be airtight legality-wise, meaning you’re protected from people who might knowingly or unknowingly take advantage of you, your offers, or your brand in the future. Filing fees for LLCs range from $40 to $520 depending on your state. For budgeting sake, we’ll average these numbers out and say you’d pay about $280 for your LLC.
I also partner with the woman-owned Contract Shop, run by attorney Christina Scaler for all small business contract needs. She literally offers dozens of different contract agreements spanning a ton of industries in The Contract Shop, and many run around $455 for a fully fleshed out, customizable and secure contract to use in your new business. Head to The Contract Shop and you can also save 20% with the code JENNA20 at checkout which actually brings your cost down to $364.
They have contract templates for so many industries including coaches, copywriters, bloggers, photographers, graphic and web designers and more, and I can’t recommend these enough if you want to make your business legit and as secure as possible from the start.
The Big Picture
So, between everything I’ve talked about today, that brings our total to $1,069.19 to get a business up and running with all of your marketing, invoicing, client communication, legalities, branding and more set up for success. I mean, we’re so darn close to $1,000 and that figure includes the expenses after those one month trials, so we’re not leaving anything out there.
Now, if you were setting aside more than $1000 for this new endeavor or if you’re early success affords you some extra income that you can invest back into the business, I’d also recommend hiring help in the form of a virtual assistant to keep you focused on the needle movers OR taking a business course or some other kind of online learning so that you are in the right mindset to take off and grow with strategy and ease.
There’s a lot that goes into starting and launching a business but something I want for you to remember is to make decisions like a CEO and move on. A lot of times we procrastinate on simple decisions and that procrastination keeps us paralyzed and holds us back from making progress. Start small, start where you are, work big and remember that above all, starting a business is less about the bells and whistles and so much more about YOU: what kind of commitment you have, the consistency you bring, the authenticity you share, the desire to provide exceptional service, your honest and friendly communication.