I was recently asked by a reporter to comment on the things that entrepreneurs need to purchase to start up a business. Actually, I suggested, entrepreneurs shouldn't purchase anything – the goal should be to spend as little as possible while getting the business started.
Don’t spend money if you don’t have to! Golden rule of small business is to conserve your resources and spend your imagination before you spend your money.
The old entrepreneurial rubric still holds:
Don’t buy new what you can buy secondhand
Don’t buy at all what you can lease.
Don’t lease what you can borrow
Don’t borrow what you can beg
Don’t beg what you can scavenge
In this day and age, with businesses under duress, you can usually find a whole set of office supplies inexpensively by being creative. Live near an office park? See if there are any businesses there shutting down or moving – often they are only too happy to get someone to take their gently used desks, lamps, chairs, file cabinets and whatnot away. Try searching on your local “freecycle” site for objects people are getting rid of.
As to what you need, it takes very little to set up a business these days. Probably an Internet connection, decent phone, usable computer (often available for very little on eBay), a few pens and pencils that you have around anyway are enough. One investment that is worth making is in business cards – but perhaps one can barter for that with a printer, by offering something in exchange.
Food for thought.