Starting up and scaling up is hard to do … not to mention expensive.
So while we applaud you for being brave enough to build a biz from scratch or commit to exciting expansion plans, we also urge you to be realistic about the belt-tightening you’ll face ahead.
Luckily, our members are (unsurprisingly) an enterprising lot, and have shared some of the great free tools they use to get things going, growing and running smoothly … without breaking their bank accounts.
Here’s a selection of 10 resources and tools for startups, that are inspiring and advising Work.Life members, while also saving them money and time:
Knowledge is power – and available free-of-charge at your local library. Signing up takes seconds, and will give you access to an incredible depth of business subject matter. As an example, the library next to our Reading office has hundreds of books on productivity, leadership, marketing, presentations and sales, as well as biographies of Richard Branson, Duncan Bannatyne and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Enjoy the inspiration – just return your books on time to avoid the fines! If you don’t fancy the walk, we also have some mini Work.Life libraries dotted around some of our spaces, with the biggest selection in London Fields. Simply grab a book, get stuck in and try swap it for an old one lurking on the back of your shelf #sharethelove
2. Growth Hubs
Good news – The Government wants you to succeed! Its 38 public/private sector ‘Growth Hub’ partnerships provide free advice, workshops and support to start-ups and scale-ups. Our members have benefitted from advice on strategy, funding, and business model design. And if you’re a potential ‘high growth’ business, extra services including 1:1 mentorship and coaching are available. You can find your local Growth Hub website here.
3. Business Support Helpline
Ignore the name – this is much more than just a helpline. Dedicated web chat, phone and email advisors are ready to answer queries on issues such as VAT and registering as self-employed. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages also share useful tips on everything from cyber security to marketing. All the links can be found here.
4. Tech Nation
Ambitious technology businesses make up a large proportion of Work.Life members, so any support in finding funding or scaling up is gratefully received. Tech Nation has a budget of £5.2m from the Department for Digital Culture, Media & Sport to do just that this year. Find out how it’s being spent and see if you qualify for free support here.
Making fiddly templates for invoices, business plans and pitch documents from scratch can bite chunks out of the hours you should be devoting to billable activities. So don’t bother… a quick Google search will lead you to a plethora of ready-made templates that enable you to fill in a few gaps, rather than many hours of your day. There are even templates like these that will help you fine tune your own ideas before you go out to clients.
Events – the perfect way to introduce yourself and your business … often available completely cost-free (and sometimes with nibbles thrown in). We recommend searching on Eventbrite for your areas of interest. You may be surprised how much is going on – we found more than a dozen free business events in London on a single day last week. We also run lots of events in our Work.Life locations, you can take a look at our events page here.
7. Start-Up Donut
Disappointingly, despite the name there are no free jam-filled treats, but there are plenty of ‘how to’ guides, checklists, entrepreneur interviews and even free trials and discounts available at StartUp Donut. A great wealth of resources available to you … gratis.
Removing unknowns from the equation is a vital step in saving time and cash. SurveyMonkey provides a cost-free way of asking a sample of potential customers their opinions about your plans or products. It’s super-simple to use too.
Stop staring at the screen and get some audio inspiration via the power of podcast. The Secret Leaders interviews are particular favourites of Work.Life members; recent interviewees include the founders of Not On The High Street, Moonpig and Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels.
Yes, we know we should be spending a little less time on our smartphones, but there’s no denying the convenience and value business apps can bring. Whether it’s time-tracking tech like Hours, team communication tools like Slack, or receipt scanners like Expensify, a swift search of the App Store now could save you ££££s in the months ahead.
And finally …
… one more freebie to consider. If you’re serious about starting or scaling up, or just sick of shuffling between café to café with your laptop, why not have a trial session at Work.Life? All you have to do is follow us on Instagram and you’ll be sent your free trial day… and we’ll even throw in as much coffee as you can drink. If you’d prefer to have a little look around first that’s fine too, you can book a tour in any of our locations at the top of our homepage.