6 Silly Expenses To Avoid When Starting A New Business
Plus much better ways to use your money.
New business owners waste money on certain things that make them feel good but are ultimately meaningless — at least in the beginning.
If anything, these expenses eat into your capital, waste time, and distract you from the work of finding and serving customers.
In no particular order, these expenses are:
#1 Business cards
Yes, business cards look fancy with your name and number on them, but business cards only make sense if you often run into potential customers in person.
If you run a remote business, business cards are largely pointless. Ditto if you spend all day in your apartment and never meet people IRL.
If it makes you feel better, print 20 business cards and only get more if demand rises. Most likely, you’ll end up using your business cards as bookmarks.
You might think you need new lights, mics, machines, or gadgets to get your business off the ground, but you often don't.
If your old Macbook still works, use it. Dust off that old camera (or pull out your phone) and shoot.
Your kitchen equipment, garage, and microphone all work fine — and you can use them to make money before upgrading them.
Nobody cares about your logo initially. They want to know how your offering solves their problems and how much it’ll cost them.
Your content and online presence are probably more important than whatever logo you slapped together.
Fussing over your logo is like worrying about the air freshener flavor of a car you’re trying to sell.
A potential buyer doesn’t care about that — they want to know if the tire treads are decent, if the shocks work, and if the service record is complete.
Whether your car smells of vanilla or lavender is low on their priority list.
I typically slap the first letter of my business’s name on a random color. If you absolutely must, use a tool like Canva to generate a free logo and get to work. You can always change your brand identity later.
If your business needs specific software, find the cheapest one that does the job well. Don’t pay for a full Adobe subscription; use one of its alternatives or design your graphics in Canva.
Skip Quickbooks and use Wave or Zipbooks for accounting (both have free plans as of writing). Google offers a free email address, online drive, spreadsheet tool, word processor, and presentation tool — all for free.
Find a free or low-priced tier for each tool you need — and upgrade only after you’ve made your first sale.
I’ve been guilty of this in the past — sinking hours into building websites and securing domains instead of validating the business model, finding customers, and selling. Don’t make the same mistake.
In the beginning, all you need are answers to your customer’s main questions: who, what, when, where, why, how, how much, and how long.
A simple one-page Carrd website is enough to answer these questions — especially if you sell a service.
You can even create a LinkedIn Article on your business page with more detail about your offering, or write a Note and pin a screenshot of it on your Twitter profile.
Your website itself doesn’t matter — the information on it does.
If you’re selling products, use an e-commerce platform like Yola or Wix to create a bare-bones online store.
Whatever you do, don’t waste time or money on fancy web development. Once you’ve made your first few sales, there’ll be plenty of time for that.
Done well, paid marketing puts your brand in front of new customers. Done wrong, it’s a money incinerator.
My advice? Start with the tiniest amount of money you can afford to lose and use Canva to create simple image ads (here are some templates).
Better yet, shoot a 60-second video of you explaining your service or showing off your product, then boost that video on social media.
Only use paid ads earnestly after you become profitable.
Start with sales
The message here is clear — start with sales and earn the right to invest in everything else.
Think of it as a game — “three more sales until I can hire that developer” or “one more sale till I get a new logo.”
When you put income before image, everything else follows.
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