Fortunately it is possible to start your fledgling business for less than you might think and at the very least there are ways to keep your costs low whilst you test out your idea and figure out whether it’s going to work. Here are a few:
Build Your Own Website
Seriously, even if you know absolutely nothing about web development it is entirely possible to build a website for your business. If you want to sell things you might have a bit of a learning curve ahead of you, but it’s all doable.
The simplest option is to use WordPress, just sign up for some Linux based webhosting which includes Installatron or Fantastico, these are software Apps which will automatically install a fresh new WordPress site in about 4 minutes, no tech no-how needed.
Using WordPress is relatively easy to learn and if you want a nice bespoke look to your website you should be able to get a developer to design you a theme for less than $100 (check out peopleperhour.com to find cheap developers).
Do Your Own Marketing
Start with some SEO, if you build your own WordPress site install the All-in-one SEO pack, give each page a nice title and description and that’s the basics sorted.
On a shoestring things like Adwords or banners aren’t really affordable, but I find the best marketing methods are the free ones anyway. Start building a list of the sorts of sites where your potential customers hang out and then start to contribute to those sites.
All this stuff is free and only costs you time; the best ways to contribute to sites are by commenting on blogs, participating in forums and guest posting on the more popular blogs if you can. Never actively market, just be there and be helpful
Manage Your Own Accounts
Hiring a book keeper is expensive, but regardless how bad you are with numbers you can keep your own financial records. Just keep a simple spreadsheet (or two) and write down every cost and every bit of income – note things like; date, description, cost and payment method.
You might find it easier to get a records book and keep a physical copy – make sure you have a filing system for your receipts too and whatever you do, keep a copy just incase.
You won’t generally have to do any paperwork until the business has been running a while, but it will pay later if you keep your stuff tidy from the outset. If things go well you can always hire a book keeper later to handle all your money and currency related issues.
Let Someone Else Keep Your Stock
Buying stock and storing it is expensive and personally I don’t like to commit myself until I have to. Don’t buy tonnes of stock immediately, just buy enough to test your idea and get a feel for what sells.
Don’t let a discount or a favourable exchange rate convince you to over commit either – cheap stock is only a good deal if it actually sells. Otherwise it is an expensive mistake.
When I started my first business I just advertised stuff that my competition sold and if I sold an item I would buy it and ship it to my customer – overall netting a slight loss. This allowed me to gradually build up a picture of what I could actually sell long before I had to fork out thousands for stock and premises.
Always Remember To Be Savvy
These 4 simple tips should be sufficient for most people to start their online businesses without spending more than a couple of hundred dollars; just remember to question every cost, ask yourself how essential it is and whether there are any alternatives or workarounds. Good luck!