How to Start a Business on a Budget – March’s Catalyst Seminar Recap

How to Start a Business on a Budget – March’s Catalyst Seminar Recap

Apr 11, 2014
Catalyst Seminar Recap

Many people have big ideas about starting a company and dream about the impact and fortune they’ll make when their idea takes off.  But how do you get a business up and running when money is tight?

March’s Catalyst Seminar focused on creating a business on a budget. Our own Marc Sedam, Executive Director of UNHInnovation and a former biotech start-up COO, presented his practical tips and advice for keeping costs low: from the inception of your idea through the actual operation of your start-up.  Marc spoke from experience, estimating that his previous company saved about $25K in a single year with these lean tactics.

Here are some of the highlights of his presentation:

Build a Business Model
Marc recommends the book Business Model Generation written by Alexander Osterwalder and Ives Peigner (available on Amazon for under $20) as a resource for developing an efficient and focused business plan. The process of writing a business model will help you put your start-up idea in the context of the real world.  It will teach you to define what makes it valuable, what customer base it would be an asset to, what your costs are going to be, and who might be able to defray those costs. One of the most important exercises Marc suggests from Business Model Generation is to reach out and speak with your potential customers (at least 100 people who are neither your friends nor your family) before investing any money. This will give you the best data on your idea’s viability in the real world.

Inexpensive and Inspiring Work Space
Working from home not for you? Marc recommends co-working spaces like the abiHUB and AlphaLoft as inexpensive solutions. A community space fosters creativity. You may even meet potential customers or resources in the people working alongside you. The cost to rent a desk is relatively low, and your company will benefit from knowledge sharing and interactions with other entrepreneurs.

Cut Costs When Seeking Legal Assistance
If you find that you need legal assistance, Marc suggests initiating the discussion with your attorney by stating your specific budget and directly asking what kind of relationship you can expect from him or her at your price range.  You may not be able to call your legal counsel every day with questions, but you ensure that you are on the same page financially. You remove the stress of wondering whether your legal fees are extending beyond your comfort zone.

Patent applications are often so expensive because people put the burden of drafting the application on the attorney. A much cheaper option is to write most of the application yourself and then employ your attorney to copyedit your work and write the crucial claims portion.  This will enable you to file a solid patent application at the lowest cost.

Healthcare, Enterprise Software, and More
Marc has much more advice for saving money in areas like software, marketing, healthcare, and travel, so check out the full video of this seminar and download the presentation slide deck to learn more.

About the Catalyst Seminar Series
At each seminar in this year’s series of Lean start-up Business Tactics, we tackle a major topic relating to starting and executing your business with Lean Startup principals, led by local experts who teach from their experience. You can get more information on our past and upcoming seminars by visiting the Catalyst Seminar Series page on our website.

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Chelsey DiGiuseppe
Marketing Manager, UNHInnovation

Image: Chelsey DiGiuseppe

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