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5 Tips from Entrepreneur Pros on Starting a Business

Starting a business can be a challenge and often entrepreneurs need guidance in various areas. Here five established founders reveal their tips for getting a new business off the ground.
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Starting a business can be a daunting proposition.  There’s so much unknown that most entrepreneurs can find themselves creating a patchwork of systems and processes in order to get their business off the ground. 

But, with all the successful entrepreneurs out there, wouldn’t it be great if new entrepreneurs could receive some tips from those who have already made it?  Well, look no further. 

I’ve asked some of the smartest, most successful entrepreneurs I know if they could share with me their money and time saving tips for getting a business off the ground.

1. Outsource your IT. “Most entrepreneurs know they can outsource services such as web design, marketing and book keeping, but one of the biggest costs for a growing business is IT. There are many groups that provide outsourced IT services. These services can range from computer maintenance and care, cloud hosting and colocation and telephone system setup and maintenance.  Don’t try and be an IT expert or pay for expensive in office visits.  Outsource your IT needs and save a big chunk of change.”
- Seth Bailey, iTok

Related: 5 Places to Look on Social Media for New Business Ideas

How to do it: Ask friends for recommendations. You can also look at freelance services like Elancer or freelancer for IT services you can outsource, search for expertise areas, check reviews and pay for services using the third-party platforms.

2. Protect your intellectual property. “Litigation can be a very expensive proposition for a new company.  I’ve seen large companies crush their smaller competitors under the weight of legal fees.  Any new company with a technology or intellectual property they need to protect, should take the necessary steps to secure it through patents and copyrights.  Those tools are there to help level the playing field for small companies.”
- Perry Clegg, Trademark Access

How to do it: Many people assume that you must use an attorney to apply for a patent, a trademark or a copyright.  But the U.S. patent office has always allowed individuals to apply for patents without the need of a lawyer.  Filing fees can be as low as $100.  While this will not provide as secure a protection as working with an attorney, it will give an entrepreneur a certain level of security for their intellectual property.

Related: Testing, Testing: Is There a Market for My Product?

3. Find your free advertising. “Bing, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and many other online advertisers offer new businesses free advertising for signing up for their services.  Before you spend your hard earned dollars, find one of these offers and take advantage of the free money.  It’s not much, usually $25 to 100 dollars, but I’ve seen some great success."
- Jacob Baadsgaard, Disruptive Advertising

How to do it: Sign up and be on the lookout for advertising offers from sites like Twitter, Facebook and AdWords. Also, if you do enroll, make sure you utilize their resources. Often, there are advertising experts that will offer tips on how to setup your campaign to achieve optimal results. You can find the free advertising money herehere, and here.”

4. Share your workspace. “Office space is expensive.  When you’re first starting off in business, signing a long-term lease can be a bad idea.  Also, working from home and having your home address on all of your business cards can also portray the wrong message.  Instead, look into co-working spaces.  It’s a great way for small businesses to get the office they need without all the hassles of high rent and long-term leases.  As an added benefit, working in a co-working space is an awesome way to make connections and network with other entrepreneurs.”
- Michael Zaro, Startup Dojo and Coding Campus

How to do it: With the startup world growing, more and more co-working spaces are popping up. Before you take the first available desk, make sure you do your research. Not every co-working space is created equal. Make sure you look into amenities offered, the price, what kind of private spaces the location has and if there any add-on resources like events or any office hours.

5. Don’t buy software. “With today’s cloud software, there’s little reason for a new company to purchase their software.  Most companies now offer subscription plans that allow you to spread the costs of using the software over several months.  If you end up using the software in perpetuity, yes, the costs can start to become more expensive than buying it outright but when you’re first starting off, it’s difficult to come up with several hundred dollars for a piece of business software." 
- Dave Turner, SkyCentral

How to do it: Many companies understand the investment in software can be expensive and have joined the cloud and subscription movement. Adobe, Microsoft, Quicken and Salesforce are just a few that offer these types of models. Before you commit to purchasing software, try it out in the cloud. Also, many businesses offer a 30-day trial. 

Related: 50 Signs You Need to Start Your Own Business