Looking to make a fresh start in 2016? Then why not think about starting your own business? There are plenty of people out there that think they could do it but are put off because of one simple reason: the money. But, what if it wasn’t wildly expensive to start a business? The truth is, it isn’t – depending on what you want to do, of course. So, we’re going to go through how you can set up a business for less than £500 – maybe it will give you some inspiration to start the new year with a bang.

shutterstock_258518462Decide on your business

The first step is to choose what line of business you want to get into. Now, if we’re trying to start a trade or company with less than £500, then one thing is clear – we have to avoid anything with significant startup costs. So, think about doing something that you love, or already know a lot about, that requires nothing – or very little – at all to get started. It could be anything from starting an industry blog on your specialty subject to setting up a window cleaning company. Take a look at these ideas to give you some inspiration.

Make it legal

Your next step is to announce yourself to HMRC – and don’t forget to do this within three months, or you could face a fine. If you’re a sole trader and will be self-employed, it’s as simple as filling out a form on the HMRC website. If you’re going to start a company, it’s a little more complicated. You will have to look at company formation, and make your business a legal entity. There are plenty of companies and lawyers that can help you do this for a small charge.

Set up a business bank account

It’s important to have a business bank account so that it is easy to separate your business dealings from your personal spending. And, the good news is that you can make a little money while you’re doing it. A lot of banks offer a small sum of money when you open an account, so take a look around and see what you can find.

Create a website

Whatever line of business you are in, it makes sense to have a website – and it’s never been easier to make one yourself, or at low cost. Of course, if you have the budget, we would always advise that you spend a little on design, responsiveness, and usability. But, as we are trying to keep costs down, we’ll look at the most basic method to get you started. You’ll need to register your domain name first, at a service like 123 Reg. You’ll also need to buy a hosting package, to ensure your website is up and running – the combined cost can be as little as £25-50 per year. Next, set up a WordPress account, and look around for some templates to use. You can pick up free ones, but it is worth spending a little bit on something that looks more professional. Once you start earning money, you can always use it to make your site more appealing to visitors.

Find your first customers

You will need to invest one of two things to get your first customers – your time, or your money. But, to get started, why not ask around some of your friends or relatives to see if you can offer them a service? It’s a great way to kick things off, and it can earn you a little extra money to get you going in the right direction. Plus, of course, it gives you some great examples of what you can do, which you can use to plump out your testimonial and portfolio pages. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the better you are at selling your business, the more people will be interested. While not everyone is a born salesperson, there are some basic skills you can learn – check out this guide to get you started.

Conclusion

OK, so as you can see, it’s possible to start a business with little investment. So why not take the plunge? If you have some time free in the evenings and weekends, you can easily fit it in around your current working hours. And, if you are doing something you love, you won’t feel like it is a burden. Of course, getting started is the easy part – but who knows? Perhaps your business idea will take off, and you will find yourself heading up a small but successful company in the near future?