One of the most satisfying feelings that you can ever experience in life is starting your own business and seeing it grow. After all, being your own boss allows you to do the things “your way”, and with right attitude and determination, it’s possible to achieve all your dreams which may otherwise never get fulfilled with a mundane 9-to-5 job. That said, if it’s money that’s stopping you from sending that resignation email, then you are in for a surprise!
In today’s tech-driven world, it’s possible to start a profitable business with little to no investment. There are many good examples of famous YouTubers and bloggers that are making millions just by creating content that they as passionate about. However, there are many safer and more practical options too that you can pick for your online business.
To get started, just following these steps:
1. Choose a Business Model That Requires no Upfront Capital
Since you are starting out with a shoestring budget, you have to pick your business idea carefully. The following are two excellent options that you can consider:
Affiliate marketing is one of the oldest online business models that’s still remunerative and offers ample opportunities for growth. In this, what you have to do is enrol in any decent affiliate program (all the top e-commerce stores including Amazon, eBay, etc. have their own affiliate programs) and start selling their products on your website or blog. You can publish informative reviews or just cover various topics that are associated with their products and then market then indirectly through embedded product links. For every product that’s sold from your website, you earn a certain commission.
Affiliate marketing is an excellent business idea if you are good at blogging or social media marketing. All you have to do is choose the best affiliate programs to promote on your blog and pick the products that offer high payout rates (for instance, luxury beauty products, women fashion, etc. offer 10% commission in Amazon affiliate marketing program, the highest of all categories). Once that’s taken care of, you can just start publishing fresh content on these products on a regular basis and collect the payment every month.
Dropshipping is a relatively new type of business but ideal for you if you have a low-risk appetite. The business itself is much like running an online store, only you don’t have to worry about inventory management which is one of the most challenging aspects of running an online business. Here is how it works:
- You set up an online store or create an account on a popular e-commerce store where you can sell your products.
- When a customer places an order, you forward the details to a dropship supplier who is either the product’s manufacturer or warehouser.
- The supplier ships the product to the customer in your name. So, to a customer, it would still appear as if it’s you who has sold the product.
Dropshipping is a lucrative business opportunity that requires no major investment. Plus, you don’t have to worry about stocking commodities, managing logistics, etc. You don’t even need any staff as all the labour-intensive tasks are handled by the supplier himself.
2. Use a Free Website Platform
There are many reasons why websites are vital for small businesses. For starters, you want a professional platform where your customers and clients can find you easily. You also want everyone to see that you are taking your business seriously. So, even though social media, emails, etc. can be used to give your business a boost, you need a full-fledged website to make the most of it, especially if we talk about affiliate marketing or dropshipping.
Now, the good news is that you don’t have to spend a single penny to create a decent website. There are a number of platforms that offer free website hosting service with ample features including WordPress, Weebly, and Freewebstore are. What’s more, they all offer premium plans with more features that can take your website to the next level when your business starts to grow.
3. Create a Brand
Once your website is set up and launched, the next thing you want to focus on is branding.
There is a huge rise in online businesses across the globe. So, unless you have a unique brand, you can’t make yours stand out from the rest. Once again, you don’t need to worry about the financial requirements here.
Not so many years ago branding was expensive but with the rise of freelancer portals you can get a design to take care of all your branding needs without breaking the piggy bank, you can also use a free logo maker website of which there are no shortage of these days.
Regardless of which option you use, branding is important, and not just for standing-out from competitors but it also makes your business look more professional in the eyes of your customers.
4. Use SEO & Social Media to Market Your Website
You don’t want to just launch a business, you also want a large number of customers. This is where marketing comes in, and there are two main ways to do this without spending any money: SEO and Social Media Marketing.
SEO refers to search engine optimization which are various techniques used for boosting the visibility of a website or blog on the Internet via search engine results. So, if your website is “search engine optimized”, it will appear more frequently in the search engine results for the keywords and phrases commonly used for your niche. This can help drive more organic traffic to your website.
SEO compromises of both technical and creative elements such as using particular keywords in your content, embedding high-quality links, using the HTML tags properly, etc. You can do most of these things on your own by doing some research and perhaps, reading a beginners guide to SEO that may help you get started.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing, as you would imagine, is marketing on the social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For this, what you need to do is create new accounts on all the popular platforms for your business and start posting interesting and informative posts, photos, videos, etc. the aim of which is to get more “retweets”, “shares”, “likes”, etc.
You can also join relevant groups and communities online where you can communicate with your target audience directly. This way you can attract potential customers and expand your market.
A lot of people believe that you need experience and money to start a business. However, that’s not true. What you actually need is commitment and determination. The Internet offers the solutions to everything else through free tools and resources. So, you just need to put your concerns to rest and take a leap of faith. This guide will help you make some of the most important decisions. Rest is up to you. Good luck!