By Kelly Tolosa-Hayashi

After 6 years of working as a stay-at-home mom, I decided it was time to jump back into the work force. With a Digital Marketing Management Program certificate from the University of Toronto, I decided to take a big leap of faith. I launched Social Platform – a social media marketing and branding company to help local and small businesses.

“Can I really do this, financially?” was a thought that crossed my mind many times while starting my business. My two children, my husband who works 55+ hours a week, a single income, a mortgage, bills and costs of extracurricular activities were just a few of my many financial concerns. I had to get just as creative on cutting start up costs as I was with helping my clients build their social media presence.

As Marie Forleo, entrepreneur, writer, and philanthropist says, “Everything is figureoutable.” After much research, brainstorming, and some trial and error of my own, here are my top 7 tips for keeping costs to a minimum when starting your own business.

Self-learning is critical to small business

With so many online resources available to us, learning to build your own website and making your own graphics and logo will save you immense costs. Website builders such as Squarespace and Wix are great to start.  And, graphic design programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Canva and Lightroom are easier to use – all thanks to Google and YouTube tutorials!

Be resourceful with what you already have

Chances are, you’ll need to take photos of yourself and your new biz either for your website or other marketing purposes. Don’t be in a rush to invest in a brand new DSLR or hire a photographer. Instead use what you have. You’re probably reading this directly from your smartphone, why not put its amazing camera and capabilities to use.

Collaborate with fellow entrepreneurs

This is one of my personal favourites. You reap the benefits of saving and cutting start up costs, and this gives you the opportunity to network. Spread the word about your new business and start building a community! Collaborate with photographers, graphic designers, social media managers, or other contractors that could help you get your feet off the ground. After all, it’s about community over competition, right?

Save on disposable spending

This may seem obvious but trust me, a latte here, a lunch there, a few times a week – it adds up quickly! It can get a little isolating and lonely working from home everyday. As much as I would love not having to brew my own coffee everyday, I do limit my coffee runs to once a week. As for going out to eat, I try to save these lunch dates for face-to-face client meetings. We all deserve to treat ourselves, so, set a weekly budget for your flexible spending. Cut costs where you can and redistribute extra funds to your business.

Keep track of your business expenses

Whether it’s a course you took online, a conference you attended, a new app you purchased or anything business related, keep track of everything. Yes, that includes that coffee meeting you had with a client. If you’re commuting, pay attention to your gas mileage and parking meter fees. Don’t forget to plug them into a spreadsheet or use a budgeting app.

Know what’s tax deductible

Most of us launching a new business will be using personal savings for our business expenses. Do your research and find out what’s tax deductible. When in doubt, ask questions, visit the CRA’s website or ask an accountant.

Have an emergency fund

It’s no secret that launching a new business is not for the faint of heart. Statistics say that 77% of small businesses are dependent on personal savings for their startup costs. Only 40% of small businesses are profitable, 30% break even, and 30% are continually losing money. I know this sounds intimidating, but don’t let this stop you. Build an emergency fund well before your launch date and continue making contributions even after your business is bringing revenue. This way you’ll be ready for those ebbs and flows of entrepreneur life.

While I still have moments when I ask myself, “Can I really do this?”, these tips have helped me stay financially grounded. Yes, I may not be able to splurge on that new pair of shoes, and my family and I may have to wait an extra few months to go on that vacation. But, nothing great comes out of anything easy, right? So, take that leap of faith, launch that business you’ve been dreaming of, and remember to plan and budget!

Ready to level up your side hustle? GRAB YOUR COPY of our “Freelancer’s Guide to Worry-free Finances”

Kelly is the founder of Social Platform, a freelancing company focused on helping other entrepreneurs, local and small businesses with building their social media presence and branding identity. When she is not helping her clients with their social media content and branding strategies, she enjoys reading, working out, party planning, and hitting up Home Sense for new home decor finds. She lives in Markham with her husband and two daughters and loves visiting local restaurants and shops.