How to Launch on a Budget: AKA Avoid Buying Things You Don’t Need

I’m the first to say that launching is an important part of building any type of business.

Launching helps validate that you are focused, directed, and talking to the right people.

And if you’re missing any of those elements (focus, direction, and audience), you figure out which one really quick and shift gears to further develop it.

So – you’re going along with your launch, making improvements, hiring odesk workers, really getting into the process, when you stop and ask.

“Hey, what’s all this costing me?”

When you start to calculate all those little costs that have crept up, you start to get a little nervous.  You’re not even where you want to be and you’re already spending too much!

Before things get too out of hand, it’s time to ask:

How can you keep the costs as low as possible on your launches?

Act with the end in mind.

Remember that you might not really need Wishlist member now, but if your plan is to create a library of online programs, each with it’s own membership site, then yeah – investing in it now may feel like a big deal, but you’re going to do it anyways.

List all the software, plugins, wordpress themes or whatever else you think you might need.  Use a filter question to ask yourself if it’s a tool you’ll use down the road or if you will ramp up to using it as a primary tool.

Example:  Dropbox and Basecamp.  Both of these are tools I’ve used with various teams and clients.  I hesitated buying them, but then realized that I use them as part of my workflow with other people – and decided to go for the paid versions of both. I use these tools far beyond one single launch.

Seek out alternatives.

There are free or nearly free alternatives that might not have the huge name recognition that the big plugins, themes, tools have, but you can find ones with a good reputation that work well.

One example is Amember. Amember has a free version of their membership site plugin.

Another example is Send Pepper – a less expensive version of Office AutoPilot.  Grow your list and business, and when you’re ready, you can seamlessly transition into an Office Autopilot customer.

And where do you really need to spend the money?

You’re doing an online launch. So your costs will be spent on resources and things online – tools, people, website, technical, making mp3s, etc.

Here are the basic tools needed to execute any online product launch:

  • Project management – something to manage all the tasks
  • Content Creation
  • Website Setup + Creation
  • Payment Processor
  • Email List Manager

Phase 1: Find FREE (or darn close to it) tools to get the job done

Google Docs – can be used for content creation, task management, and team communication, password documents, etc. – FREE

WordPress Themes – Many Free Ones That Are Awesome – FREE

Paypal – No cost to set up – Create buttons and payment processor – FREE

Mailing List – Aweber – $19+ per month

Making Mp3s – usually onboard mac and pc application or itunes – FREE

Make PDFs – print – and save as pdf in the print process – FREE

Video hosting – youtube unlisted, vimeo, amazon s3 – FREE

Membership area – password protected page or amember – FREE

Simple Graphics – Fiverr – $5+

Phase 2: improve your launch by hiring out or finding experts to fill the gaps

Phase 2 is about taking what you’re already doing with the free or inexpensive tools and improving where you can.  Think making things simple and making things work better as your guide to what you should spend money on first.

  • Hire someone to design your website + product materials
  • Swap out systems that require too many steps
  • Hire someone else to manage the launch
  • Use tools other reputable online business are using (or not)

How LKR approaches spending money for launches

We approach launching and hiring and spending money a bit differently than many businesses.

Our goal is always to make things better and easier, more automated…and more fun.

We hire experts that can handle from top to bottom a part of the process with limited supervision and no micromanagement.

That’s where we spend money. That’s how we launch.

For specific new launches that might require a bit more attention – we decide the important parts of a launch and we focus our spending on that area–like hiring a designer for our new site design.  Thank you, Lisa!

We make sure we look at the resources we currently have – and only if it’s required do we put out additional money for additional experts.

That’s why we have Stacey on customer service (because she’s literally the nicest and most kind person we’ve ever known).  That’s why Erin is the content manager (if you knew how much content she manages and creates several months in advance, you’d be shocked).  That’s why we have Emelie creating our course content – because anyone who’s been touched by her creativity knows what we saw in her. Holy moly.  And why we brought in talented, motivated, and dedicated web developer Matthias. I’m not giving away his gold just yet, but he makes launching easy. Period.

You get the point.

So the next time you find yourself about to shell out money for the latest and greatest sales page or optin plugin, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Am I likely to use this tool again? Or, should I do the free trial?
  2. Am I buying this just because everyone else thinks it’s the only way to go pro?
  3. Will this tool make my launch better, simpler, stronger in anyway?
Image credit: Budget by 401(K) 2012

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