Hand holding dollar bills

Budget Minded Business Building

In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.
Nikos Kazantzakis

One of the biggest challenges facing most small businesses is how to succeed on a limited budget. There are plenty of stories in business journals about businesses operating with budgets of millions of dollars. But what about businesses with budgets measured in hundreds and thousands?

The simple truth is that most businesses have modest budgets. All it really takes is an idea and a Website. Everyone has ideas, and Websites don’t have to be expensive.

It’s also true that most businesses don’t succeed. Unfortunately, merely existing isn’t enough. In order for a business to succeed, it needs to grow, and that is where budget becomes a factor.

Customers – The Life Blood of Business

It might be obvious, but many great business ideas fail due to lack of customers. There are lots of ways to get customers, but at the end of the day, it always boils down to putting on offer in front of an audience.

If You Build It, They Might Not Come

Many businesses fail because they focus entirely on their offer, and ignore how they will get it in front of an audience.

I’ll let you in on a secret: When it comes to offer development, the trick is to put less time into developing your offer, not more. The reason is simple, the first pass on an offer is the most general. Every time more work is done, it gets more specific. The more specific an offer is, the fewer people will respond to it. When an entrepreneur spends too much time refining their offer, the result is something that is perfect for them not their customers.

Once this concept is embraced, the results are almost magical. Define an offer, file off the roughest edges, and then get it in front of real people. After that, the offer is revised based on what the market wants, instead of what the marketer wants. See the difference?

Don’t worry if you’re not sure where to find an audience, I’ll go into depth on that in another post.

Budget Time Too

Most entrepreneurs work to stretch their dollars. That’s smart, but all too often, they waste hours of precious time just to save a few bucks. That’s not so smart.

I’m guilty of doing this far more often than I’d like to admit. Here are a few pointers that I myself use to budget my time more effectively.

Assign an Hourly Value

As an entrepreneur, you are actually two different people. You are an investor, and you are an employee. For this exercise, just imagine yourself as an employee. How much would it cost to hire someone to do what you are doing? Use that to establish an hourly value for your time.

Once you’ve got that hourly value, you have an objective way to decide whether you should do something yourself, or whether you should outsource it.

On a super tight budget? No problem! You can adjust your hourly figure down to a more realistic level. Just remember to move it back up when your revenue increases.

Ask in an Hour

It’s really easy to assume something will be easy to take care of. Unfortunately, many “easy” projects are actually not. The trick is to give it your best effort for an hour. After that hour, pause and evaluate. If the task is much harder than you thought it would be, don’t throw good time after bad. Find someone that can help you, and move on to more important things.


One of the great benefits of networking is that no two people have the same skills. One of the best ways to get things done is to trade something you are really good at for something you are not so good at. For example, if you are a great writer, you might write some copy for a graphic artist in exchange for a logo.

Is it Important

An interesting thing happens when you decide to pay someone else to do something. Suddenly, some things seem like they might not be necessary after all.

Final Thoughts

Building a business on a budget is hard work. The trick is to be focused on what’s important, and not waste time (or money) on other things.

When Marcus and I created Tilden Tasks, we were especially focused on creating a service that would fit into even the most meager of budgets. Even more important than being budget friendly, we estimate that we can save an entrepreneur up to 60 hours a month!

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