While it is true that anyone can start a business anytime, it is not a given that anyone can be successful at it. A major obstacle when getting started is getting the delicate balance right between investing in equipment necessary to operate and keeping expenses low at the same time. Spending more than you earn is never a good way to run a business, yet being or seeming ill equipped to do the job won’t get you many clients either.

Luckily nowadays you have dozens of cheap or even free alternatives to what was once thought of as indispensable things for your business at your disposal allowing you to run a professional operation while saving money at the same time.

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Digital Alternatives

Almost everything you need in your office now has a digital replacement. You can start small simple such as banking and bills payment online which ensures that your payments are never late and saves you a trip to the bank.

You can also minimize the use of paper and use a cloud system such as Google Drive or DropBox to store your files and documents. This saves you money on paper and the need for filing cabinets and allows you more flexibility when accessing your files.

Your phone system, an office tool you can’t really do without, can be replaced by using a VoIP service. Not only is using VoIP cheaper, but it is easier to use, easily expandable and comes with a number of neat features such as the option to do video conferences or using the same number for multiple devices and phones.

Another way to save money is to use open source software such as OpenOffice which is basically a free version of Microsoft Office, but still allows you to perform basic office tasks such as word processing, composing slide show presentations and making spreadsheets. For your email needs Gmail is a worthy replacement of Microsoft Outlook, and is also free.

Redefining your office

Having an office building is often one of the biggest expenses a business can incur, since having an office means paying for overhead expenses such as utilities, water, rent and electricity. Nowadays this is unnecessary as you can now work from home, with videoconferences, phone calls and emails taking care of the interoffice communications.

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For the times when an actual meeting is required or you need to receive clients and partners, there are virtual offices- a facility with meeting and conference rooms, receptionist and telephone answering services, a physical and even business address registration services – available. This gives you the image of a professional outfit, as indicated by your business registration and by receiving clients in an actual conference room rather than your living room at a fraction of the cost of having an actual office building. Working from home also comes with the added benefit of being more efficient and flexible with your time, and saving on gas.

Working with others

An alternative to hiring personnel is to have their various services outsourced. This is ideal if you are working from home and cannot accommodate added personnel or want to save money by hiring people only for the day to day operations. Auxiliary operations such as secretarial work, assistants, writers, accountants or marketers can be handled off-site by either freelance operators or businesses designed for that purpose.

Eliminate the bells and whistles

When getting office equipment, keep in mind that it can be basic and/or multipurpose. What it doesn’t need to be is flashy. If your office needs a PC, don’t go for the brand new one with the large graphics card. Yu won’t need it. Go instead for the previous model. All it has to do is be recent enough to be able to run your programs smoothly. Be on the lookout for equipment that does multiple tasks at the same time such as a scanner/printer rather than getting them separately.