The past few years have been characterized by an increase in the number of young professionals choosing to embark on entrepreneurial paths and the subsequent rise in startup companies. We have witnessed a rise in YP-owned startups in everything from tech and legal practices to event planning and interior design. Of course, every YP optimistically thinks their business is going to be the next best thing – and it very likely could be – but, especially in the early stages, it is easy to get ahead of oneself and splurge on an assortment of unnecessary costs. Here are a few ways you can avoid falling into this trap.
Increasingly, it is possible to work without the presence of a physical office. Office space within city cores is expensive, especially for the YP already paying increasingly high rent and mortgage payments for his or her home. Countless YPs who are now the founders of hugely successful startup companies, will tell you that, for at least the first six months to a year of their company, it was run from their home. Don’t be embarrassed – fellow YPs and entrepreneurs know there is no shame in your office address being the same as your home address. Alternatively, with the rise in startups has come the rise in business incubators that provide a “one-stop-shop” of support for entrepreneurs – equipped with meeting rooms, office equipment and some with secretaries. Some allow for the rental of office space daily, weekly or monthly. Such spaces are filled with other young companies, offering the opportunity for network building and cross-promotional initiatives. Some great options to check out are the Toronto Business Development Centre (our favourite), Centre for Social Innovation, and the Intelligent Office. Another increasingly popular option is sharing office space with another young entrepreneur. His of her venture does not have to be similar to yours, but it would be of benefit if the two companies could complement one another, resulting in increased business for both of you.
Even if it is just to deck out a home office, many YPs go overboard in the beginning, dropping all kinds of cash on desktop computers, scanners and printers when they can probably afford to do without for a few months. Depending on the nature of your business, as long as you have a laptop you could be just fine. For the amount of time you use the printer, you may be better off visiting a Kinko’s and spending less than $5 on your printing – and to save yourself that always annoying panic of running out of ink mid-job. Not to mention, less of your precious home or office space will be occupied with equipment that may be collecting more dust than providing use.
Hiring People You Can’t Afford
Of course, in an ideal world, you would want to hire the most seasoned professionals to elevate your startup to instant success. It isn’t a perfect world, however, and it is unlikely you are going to be able to afford such talent and maintain a stable pay, raises and bonuses. Once you hire someone, ensure that the income that is promised to him or her and outlined in contract is sustainable; he or she is now depending on you to pay his or her bills. Take advantage (not in that sense) of interns, who either need the practical working experience as a program requirement (an increasingly common occurrence) or can enjoy the benefits of working for a minimal cost in exchange for the experience gained, connections made, and material produced for their portfolios…especially in arts-based professions. In some cases, especially in professions like fashion or technology, an intern may actually provide more insight than an older, more “seasoned” YP. Not to mention, they are enthusiastic and, with their shades of green, bring an unmatched energy to the company.
Time after time, we hear of young professionals seeking the “expert” advice of a business consultant only to emerge more unclear of their goals than beforehand, second guessing him or herself and financially poorer as a result. We are not suggesting that all business consultants are a horrible idea, and there is definitely merit in seeking a third party opinion in your business, but do your research before choosing one. Rely on referrals from other YPs when making your decision, or opt instead to pick the brain of a fellow YP who has embarked down a similar path, set up an informational meeting with a seasoned professional eager to share his or her wisdom, or seek out a mentor.
Lavish Launch Party/Wining and Dining
Once you’re all good to go, you obviously want to celebrate the launch of your company and introduce it to the world. There are better ways to raise awareness than to splurge on a fully catered, open-bar launch party all on the company card. Of course, there are ways of throwing a party that involve minimal expense on behalf of the host (and we are all for a good party) but approach with caution. The same can be said with wining and dining potential clients and business connections. Seek out young professional networking events, where powerful business connections can be made, and all you have to pay for is your ticket. Even charity event tickets are less expensive than the typical dinner. Choose lunch meetings if you want to meet one-on-one, where menu options are less pricey and the bottle of wine is likely removed from the equation.