There are many businesses that can be launched with a minimum of up-front funding, because, in many cases, the internet offers almost zero-based promotional and advertising opportunities. If you offer unique services, such as financial counseling, information-driven content, education, self-help ideas, publishing, software applications, management consulting, coaching, and many other similar businesses with a minimum of up-front capital requirements, then the internet and e-commerce may be an ideal match.
As in any business venture, it is important to put together a plan where the services are turned into useful digital informational packages. The plan must define goals and objectives, target-market profiling, possess an interesting theme to promote search-and-share on social media, determine competitive price points, and most importantly, define how the services will eventually be monetized.
However, you do not need to agonize for months on getting the plan just right or choosing the perfect company name, website domain, and catchy brand. The beauty of internet marketing is that it provides a low-cost entry into the market of your choice. You can accomplish this with the following cost-saving approach:
Stick it on a template – Build your business plan using the many free or low-cost templates that are offered on the Internet. Ensure that the plan clearly defines the e-commerce business from an organizational, financial, operational, and marketing standpoint. These are the four wheels that drive the business forward. But, at this stage, you do not need to go into an elaborate plan. Make sure, however, that you are comfortable with its basic tenets and objectives.
Use limited personal credit – information based businesses can be launched using a personal credit card for basic start-up needs. After all, domain names and hosting cost approximately $85/year. Basic search engine optimization is under $50. The facility costs should be zero at the start because you can operate out of your home. You will need to purchase some photos and other website design tools, but there is a vast supply of these free of charge, or at reasonable prices.
Keep incorporation costs down – It is more cost efficient to test your ideas and concepts online to see if they are marketable, before going through the process of registering or incorporating a company. Do this once revenues become certain. Any prior expenses can be recovered as either intellectual property (website design, and digital marketing hours) or as loans by the shareholders. The choice of a specific company name is not that important, as you can incorporate under a numbered company, and then use an operational name under which you will be known.
Digital savvy is essential – In order to achieve a low-cost start-up, you must either be personally experienced in website design, and understand the intricacies of search engine optimization and ranking, or find a partner who can take charge. Quality content must be linked to other authoritative websites, networks, and affiliate marketing sites. Without this, your website and bright ideas will be invisible on the net. This is the big caveat to low-cost start-ups. If you cannot find a website developer as a partner then look for a web wizard on a pay-per-hour basis.
Keep your job – If you are employed, maintain the cash flow from this source until it can be replaced with revenues from the online business venture. It does entail sacrifice, patience, and discipline because now you have two jobs. Keep in mind that a low-cost startup does not transform into an overnight success. To develop web traffic and turn it into a revenue stream takes time and effort. Unfortunately, too many entrepreneurs give up too early.
Concentrate on traffic – It is not essential to realize sales at the beginning. The website must build its reputation, domain authority, and trust over time. You need to take a long term approach to e-commerce. The website builds traffic by providing quality information on blogs and articles that are included in the website and then linked to other sites with established traffic. Developing direct links and backlinks to create an ever-expanding flow of visitors, ultimately manifests itself in sales. Those need not necessarily be excluded to sales of your own products and services. By integrating your website to article directories and affiliate networks you can earn commissions from sales on linked websites. In this manner, multiple revenue streams are created and increase the potential of success.
Keep financial records – In the excitement of starting and operating a new business venture, never lose track of the need to establish financial controls. In the low-cost start-up scenario, a simple spreadsheet can be set up to record all sales and expenses, and identify their sources. These can later be entered as line items in a chart of accounts by the accountant. However, there are many off-the-shelf accounting software that can be purchased at a very reasonable cost – QuickBooks, Simply Accounting by Sage, FreshBooks – are examples.
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