THIS LIST COULD SAVE YOU THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS

How to Reduce Expenses for Startups or Small Businesses?

The list of vendors presented on this page results from more than 15 years of experience running lean business operations across multiple countries.

These strategies can be applied almost from any country.

This page doesn’t cover creating a company, product development, or corporate structure but rather the business’s management from an operations perspective. You need to engage with an accountant and lawyer you trust to complete the formation of the company. As a new business idea comes to mind, you’d typically want to start writing a business plan and budget. This will provide you guidance concerning your intended business structure, operations, and sales. 

Most business plans are useless in the daily process.  While we believe in the importance of planning and readiness, it is better to define objectives that you can review weekly, monthly, and quarterly.

There are too many variables that you cant not just foresee when writing the first version of your ideal business plan. After six months, you probably don’t even recognize if the business you are operating resembles the one you defined in your business plan. 

Most businesses fail due to a lack of financial resources to start or maintain the operation. 

It is difficult for most business owners to calculate the real financial investment required to run a business.  In most cases, there are multiple costs associated with running the business that are not considered in the planning phase.

If you search Google for “business startup process”, you will find that most results will have a list of steps, including developing your business plan and calculating the associated financials. In most situations, these numbers are useless. If you ever watched an episode of ‘Dragon’s Den’ the recurring question is ‘how much are you making in sales?’.

It is alarming the number of people who invest (burn) large amounts of money trying to build a business. In some cases, not their own but investors, family, or worst, their savings and retirement in all sorts of unnecessary things. 

Don’t start your business by wasting money on office space (rent), laptops, multi-year agreements with ‘business’ internet providers, professional Business telephone system (PBX), network equipment, and things that don’t provide value. You can plan out your business and your financials to keep your small business startup costs and budget low and on track. The reality is that it does not guarantee that you will have enough revenue from sales to cover the operating expenses. 

That is why we recommend keeping operations lean. Don’t make any yearly or multi yearly contracts; try to use monthly subscriptions and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) as much as you can. Even for telecommunications and computers for employees and resources. Yes, you read that right, even for computers. We will provide the name of a personal cloud computing (Desktop-as-a-Service) DaaS company that we have been using since 2014. Using this service, we saved thousands of dollars in equipment for resources, international shipping, support, and associated expenses.

Why are we giving away this list of services and providers that we build over the years? 

Because we see with sadness how people wipe out their savings, retirement money and get into uncomfortable financial situations with friends and family when trying to start their business.  Starting a business is not easy, but it is possible to take off if you use a lean approach to manage your operations. Some of these providers are well-known companies, but, in some cases, people don’t know what type of service or license the best for startup companies or small businesses is.

You will need every dollar to invest in marketing and sales. 

Every other expense is irrelevant if you don’t have customers.

As you probably know, most big companies, like Google, HP, Facebook, etc., started in a garage or university dorm. People try to emulate these big corporations and spend thousands of dollars on branding, marketing materials, design, and computers when this is not needed at an early stage. Your business needs to look professional, but you don’t need to break the bank or, what is worst, enter into debt when trying to launch your new venture.

This is our approach to building and operating companies spending the minimum possible a month for the basic infrastructure. The monthly budget will be increased based on the number of users you have.

We will start from scratch. If you are already operating a business, you can skip the initial steps, but maybe make sense to review them if you can find value and save by changing your current provider.

Follow this step-by-step process to provide the structure to support the growth of the product or service you offer at the core of your business.

1. Company name – This one simple but essential task that will consume a lot of time. Our recommendation is to use the ‘Business Name Generator’ from Namelix (https://namelix.com) once you have a name in mind. Cost: Free. Once you have few candidates, check if the domain is available on AWS domain registration service, AWS Route 53: https://console.aws.amazon.com/route53/

2. Logo – Here, we recommend Looka https://looka.grsm.io/xmedia247. This AI-powered logo maker gives business owners a quick and affordable way to create a beautiful brand. The platform takes a non-templated approach to logos to generate tons of unique options that you can customize in an easy-to-use editor.  Answer a few questions about your business and design preferences, and you’ll immediately see a wide variety of logos to start saving and editing.

Looka uses computer machine learning to provide users with better “out-of-the-box” logo options than other online logo makers. Once you have a logo you love, you can buy a one-time package OR a logo and brand kit subscription. Cost: $ 59.88/year. If you are a marketing or design agency providing these services to clients, Looka could increase your team’s productivity.

3. Company registration – based on your country of residence or where you would like to establish the business legal entity. As mentioned before, we won’t cover this subject in this document, but we can refer you to these specialized providers:

4. .com Domain – Why do you need a domain? Because the first thing that somebody does is search for your business on Google. Business executives (B2B) or individual customers (B2C), depending on who your business is targeted to, will look for details about your company and social networks online. Also, this domain will be used in your business email. It is not very professional to send business messages from a Gmail or Hotmail address.

Would you hire a lawyer, accountant, or financial advisor using a free email address to run their business? Probably not. Only use a .com domain, forget about .net, .co or another fancy domain extension. Also, avoid hyphens or long domain names. We recommend AWS Route 53 https://console.aws.amazon.com/route53/ .com domain registration with Privacy Protection included. Cost: $12/year, renewal $12. AWS Route 53 includes Privacy Protection, DNS management; other providers charge $80-100 for these services. In some cases, the domain will cost $0.99 for the first year. Still, the renewal will be more than $19 – $25.

5. Hosting (Virtual Server) – Now that you have a domain, you will need a computer (virtual server) to store and host your website.  Don’t’ worry if you are not technical.  You need a reliable, simple to administer but powerful global provider like AWS LightSail. We recommend selecting a Linux/Unix virtual server on AWS LightSail: 2 GB Memory, 1 Core Processor, 60 GB SSD Disk, 3 TB Transfer. Cost: $10/month. Cheaper options are starting at $3.50 (only use these if you are on a budget) and more expensive Windows-based machines, but these are not required to set up your website. Don’t worry about not knowing Linux or Unix. You won’t need to know anything technical about these operating systems.

Content Management System (CMS) – WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS. It is included with your AWS LightSail virtual server. Cost: Free. This will provide at least $2,880/year in savings if compared to other CMS options that offer similar functionality.

Steps to configure WordPress in AWS LightSail:

• Access https://lightsail.aws.amazon.com then select the ‘Create Instance’ orange button.

• Then, on the ‘Select your instance location, Select a Region’ section choose the place where you think the majority of your clients will be based.

• On the ‘Pick your instance image, Select a platform’ click on ‘Linux/Unix.’

• On the ‘Select a blueprint’ section, select ‘Apps + OS’ and ‘WordPress.’

• Finally, select ‘Choose your instance plan’ and click on ‘Create instance.’

• After this step, follow the instructions on this page to complete the WordPress installation and access your website:

o Access and credentials: https://docs.bitnami.com/aws/apps/wordpress/get-started/first-steps/

o Remove the Bitnami banner: https://docs.bitnami.com/aws/how-to/bitnami-remove-banner/

o Uninstall all WordPress plugins and Themes: https://wordpress.org/support/article/wordpress-housekeeping/

6. WordPress Theme – instead of paying an agency or graphic designer, we recommend getting a customizable theme like Avada and NewsPaper. We recommend these two because besides being totally flexible with respect to design, they come with an auto-update function that will save you hours of pain and frustration when dealing with software upgrades and patches. Avada Cost: $60/once. Newspaper Cost: $59/once.

7. Unlimited Stock Images and Video – For years, we tried to find a reliable source of quality stock images for our website, newsletter, and corporate documents. Yes, we also paid for the expensive pack of five images for $49 offered by the leading company in this market. As well as tried the lower quality image free websites until we found what we were looking for. Our recommended option here is Envato Elements. Cost: $198/year.

8. SSL Certificate – HTTPS is super important. Surprisingly, companies, even design, and marketing that are supposed to be specialized in online media, skip this step. You probably want to avoid wasting money on paid traffic to your HTTP (unsecured) website. Most modern web browsers will present a warning screen asking you if you want to continue and visit this unsecured website. At that point, most people will just close the tab. You can get an SSL certificate from the ‘Comodo SSL Store’ (https://www.comodosslstore.com?aid=52914729) in minutes. Select an ‘SSL DV’ that typically includes a high assurance domain validation (DV) certificate and a $250,000 warranty on average. Cost: $62.00/year. 

9. Project Management, collaboration, and remote management – Monday https://mondaycom.grsm.io/xmedia247 is a project management platform that enables organizations to manage tasks, projects, and teamwork. Cost: $33/month.

10. Cloud computer – PaperSpace https://www.paperspace.com is a Desktop-as-a-Service company that will allow you to access a Windows machine using an Internet browser. Cost: $22/month.

Come back to this page to discover more resources for your business. We will be adding new vendors we trust each week.