Build Your Startup Business Infrastructure on a Budget
There are quite a few steps to take when building a business from the ground up. This article assumes you have already gained a basic knowledge of these steps and are at a point where you have some funding and you are ready to put the building blocks of your business in place. If you are not familiar with the basic steps to build a business, I encourage you to go check out the multitude of publications you can find on the web and then come back and revisit this article.
In most cases, it is paramount to build your business in steps, being very careful how you spend the precious funds that are available to you, regardless of the source of your capital. By now you should have a list of components that need to be put in place, such as the IT infrastructure, including but not limited to email accounts, a website, internal software systems (both “canned” packages as well as custom software) and more. On the creative side, you will need to decide on your branding (logo and color theme). Then most likely you will need business cards, brochures, letterhead, fliers, signage and the like.
Building a business in steps (or increments) can be done, but you need to look for the right talent. At the beginning, you will be much better off finding individuals that are competent in several different areas. The less resources you have to employ, in most cases, the lower your spending outlay will be. If one individual can perform the duties of six or eight people, your budgetary savings should be significant. Later on, when things are taking off, you can replace these multi-talented individuals with dedicated resources, as each duty will likely become a full-time job. Over-staffing too soon can put you out of business in a hurry or put undue pressure on your business to perform sooner than it is capable of.
Let’s turn the clock forward and assume your business is gaining traction. Let’s say your multi-talented individuals just helped you get your business off the ground and now you are going to replace them with employees dedicated to specific business segments, or departments. It will be painless to replace them because they will be expecting it. Why? Because you brought them in as contractors. You have a lot of flexibility with contractors. If it’s in your interest, and the contractor’s interest, you can propose a contract to hire arrangement. Then if things work out well, you could bring them in as part of your senior staff since they will have such a good understanding of your business. Or, they could simply move on. There are many advantages to using contractors in a case like this. If things are not moving as fast as you hoped, you can reduce the contractor’s hours to stay within your budget. You can cut them loose if they are not performing as expected. You will also save money because you will not be providing benefits, and in many cases, not providing a work-space for them.
Another smart move may be to secure certain essential services on an outsourced basis. These days, you can even outsource your human resource department. Outside services are becoming more popular these days. Such services take the worry out of keeping up with ever-changing legal requirements, minimizing the exposure to your brand new, fragile business. The cost is normally a lot less than in-house staffing for comparable services. A good service company will come with a guarantee (they will have an insurance policy) that protects your company should the service company fail to keep up with current legal requirements, unintentionally creating a liability for your company. It is not practical for in-house personnel to make such a guarantee. In that case your business is assuming the risks for your hired employees.