Souped Up

Do It Cheaper

Who doesn't want to save money when starting a business? While you don't want to scrimp on everything, here are a few areas where you should definitely shop around:

  • Insuring your business: You'll have a variety of insurance needs to cover, from insuring your property to liability coverage. Talk to businesses that are similar to yours to see what coverage they carry, says Madelyn Flannagan, vice president of education and research with the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America in Alexandria, Virginia. A big way to save is by asking agents for extras they might throw in your coverage package. Visit and for more advice. Or check out's own extensive Insurance Center.
  • Finding affordable office space: Look into incubators, temporary or subleased office space. "Sometimes that's cheaper than finding a long-term lease when you don't know where your company's going to be," says Roger Staubach, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and co-founder, chairman and CEO of The Staubach Company, a real estate firm in Dallas. "Try to get the terms of your lease as short as possible, or at least [include] a buyout [option] so you're not stuck with liability if your business plan doesn't work." Also check with your city government to see if it subsidizes space leased in less developed areas. Visit for 12 tips on finding affordable space.
  • Equipping your office: It's easy to spend too much. To cut costs, look for office surplus stores and be aware of local business closings. Another tip: Did you know that your state government sells surplus office equipment at bargain prices? You just have to know where to shop. To get started, check out the National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property (NASASP) online at and check out the NASASP roster link for the office in your area. Another place to look is, which sells federal government surplus items, including office equipment and supplies.
  • Shopping around for phone and ISP rates: Do you want to rely on a cell phone instead of a landline, or use both? When it comes to the Net, there's DSL, cable modems, dial-ups and T1s. Rates vary, so you'll have to shop around with providers' sites, such as The key is not to buy too much, too soon. "Don't sign a three-year contract. Only sign for a year at most," says Tom Heslin, president of Sunsar Communications, a telecommunications agency in Trumbull, Connecticut. Besides cruising the sites of your local Baby Bell and long-distance providers, try sites like, where you can find links to a bill calculator, a long-distance glossary and tips for setting up a calling plan.
  • Outsourcing: You need someone's expertise, but you don't have any employees yet. Looks like you'll have to outsource. How do you hire talent on a budget, and where do you find these people? Thanks to Web sites such as and, you don't have to shop locally anymore. When negotiating rates with free agents, don't be afraid to offer equity, future bonuses, advisory or board positions and other incentives in lieu of hard cash. Sell them on your vision, that you're in it for the long haul. "Think creatively and lay [your vision] out before you even start communications," Wilson says. And don't forget to check out for a handy link for employers.
Start-Up: Do It . . .

Contact Sources

  • Fox Rothschild O'Brien & Frankel LLP
    (215) 299-2000,

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Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog,

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This article was originally published in the October 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Souped Up.

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