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Starting An Organization From Scratch #11 Minimize Operational Costs

When you start an organization, most times you have limited resources before you secure funding unless you have your own money set aside to invest in the organization. Even then, you want to be sure that your money gives the highest returns possible. Starting strong involves managing operational costs that means only spending on the things that are essential to the smooth running of the program more so your pilot project.

One of the common mistake that start up organisations fall prey to is spreading their limited resources too thin. For example, some start up organisations rent expensive offices before they have any tangible impact to attract funding. Others start with a big team of staff which eats into resources that would have been used to fund program activities.
When I started my organization, I didn’t have an operational budget so I opted to negotiate for free working space. At first I shared a friend’s office then moved to a redundant room that wasn’t being used in the building before I was able to afford my own office space. I would offer documentation services in exchange for office space. When I was allowed to use the redundant room, I had to clean it up myself and then asked friends to donate office furniture. That’s how I set up my office and progressed to what it is today.
Use your negotiation skills to acquire most of what you need to start. If need be, start by working from your home space and expand as your organization grows. The same applies to staff, it is advisable to start with volunteers then eventually grow them into staff. Leverage your networks and relationships to out source your start up team. However don’t compromise your standards by taking on people who don’t share your vision. Settle for like minded people with a similar passion as your mission. Take your time in selecting the core team because it defines the brand and culture of your organization.
You should also pay attention to daily operational costs. Be intentional about managing costs. For example alot of money is wasted on stationary costs, limit how much you print by sharing soft copies until I final document is approved. Recycle some waste paper by using the flip side to take notes. Print on both sides to save paper. Invest in a flask instead of having everyone boil their own tea. Share a tea bag or even better put the tea bags in the flask. Small things like this can make a big difference in your operational budget.
Lean start up is the way to go. Manage your resources in a way that enables you to have the highest impact. Be vigilant in controlling waste at all levels of the organization. Set systems in place that enable you monitor your efficiency. Teach your team to take ownership of the organization by allocating resources to the best of their ability. Start small and grow into the fullness of your mission.

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