My Current Office Corner Still Life: I get lots of art, computer paper, furniture, business cards, banners, and many more supplies for free or close to it. Read below for lots of details!
Cheapskate Tip 1: Use Your Free Local Small Business Resources
Your local library is loaded with helpful business start-up books. Your librarian may recommend small business classes hosted by the library or help you find some in town. Universities often have free and low-cost business classes to investigate.
Cheapskate Tip 2: Deep Purge Your Home and Sell The Excess to Fund Your Start-Up
This one does double-duty, you'll need a clear and organized home life when you start your business. Be ruthless (tips here on removing emotional attachment from items) and put every single thing you no longer use or want in boxes to sell at yard sales, on eBay/Etsy or to consignment shops.
* Another perk, if you're selling these items for the same price or less than you paid for them you're not making a profit and don't have to report this "yard sale" income to the IRS. (Source.
Cheapskate Tip 3: Buy as little as possible- or nothing at all!
There are three easy ways to accomplish this:
1) Access what you have on hand to accomplish your goals, you may have all you need to start
2) Sponsorships & Trades, detailed below
3) Ask friends/family/businesses if they have anything you're lacking. I got a free laptop from an drafter-friend's downsizing architect firm! Oh, and a free flat screen TV, PS2, TV stand, couch, computer chair...
Cheapskate Tip 4: Get as much sponsored as possible
Make your sponsor an offer they can't refuse- an ad on your website, banner in your shop, giveaway or review in exchange for free supplies, it's win/win all around.
Cheapskate Tip 5: Trades
Trade your services or merchandise with others who have merchandise/services you need to get started. For example, I'm trading business consulting/marketing services for editing services starting this week. Hell, e-mail me if you're game for a trade, I could always use printing/design/coding services.
Cheapskate Tip 6: Shop Smart: Wholesale, Reward Cards, Bulk Buys.
Get rewards cards at places you stop at often to rack up bonuses and cash-back options. Consider credit cards that pay you back.
Cheapskate Tip 7: Thrift Store and Second-Hand Shopping
This is for everyone, not just vintage sellers. You can get a wide variety necessary tools and supplies from thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales, and estate sales.
Cheapskate Tip 8: Using eBay and Online Bulk Website Deals
I love to shop eBay and bulk supply discount websites (like uline.com) for clear sleeves, price tags, and other little bits that make a big impact for my brand. Buying in bulk means I pay pennies per sleeve or tag.
Cheapskate Tip 9: Consider Getting Your Business EIN Number
An EIN number is often required for you to shop on wholesale websites and access bulk discounts and reap other savings for businesses. It's easy to apply for one here
Cheapskate Tip 10: Get Help From Partners, Friends, or Family
Splitting your business with partners can be tricky, but also rewarding. You have someone to split labor and costs with, someone to bounce ideas off of and improve your business with. It can be a big money-saving move. And of course when friends or family are willing to help you with your business, take it!
Any more suggestions for pinching pennies and starting a business for the lowest amount of money possible? Do share in the comments.