If you’re one of the many people hoping to make it big online, you’re probably aware that there’s no shortage of companies asking for money to help guide your business to succeed online.
However, most people who are trying to earn money online aren’t in a position to spend large sums of money when starting on advertising agencies, marketing, and web hosting.
Fortunately, there are ways to earn money online without having to pay a bundle to get started.
Online Business: How to Get Started
1. Get Feedback Early
The fear of all business owners is to start a company, market a product, and realize after the fact that nobody is interested in it.
A good way to combat this without having to spend money is to utilize crowdfunding early on. By starting with this, you can even earn your startup costs.
Sites like Kickstarter and Fundable are popular among those raising money for a cause. However, you can raise money for a project, too. It's free to start - just sign up and begin building your project page.
A popular project on Kickstarter was The Oatmeal’s “Exploding Kittens” card game. Supporters could choose to purchase the standard game or, at the highest supporter level, a signed deluxe copy. The project raised millions of dollars in just a few hours.
While your results might not be to that extreme when starting, it’s perfectly acceptable to test out the marketability of your idea before you mass produce. Marketing, of course, is one of the keys to get your online business off the ground, more on that below.
If people don’t open their wallets, you haven’t lost anything, and you’ve gained valuable information about the feasibility of your online business.
However, if people do open their wallets, you already have the confidence that your product will sell, and you have some startup cash to get off the ground.
2. Have an Online Presence
You don’t necessarily need a paid website in order to have an online presence.
Even a WordPress blog, which you can run and operate for free, is a great way to showcase your product, begin to get feedback and hone the marketing messages for your online business.
You can use blogs for content marketing purposes too, all without paying a dime.
How do I start and online business with no money?
WordPress plugins such as those by WooCommerce, a free Shopify alternative, even allow you to install beautiful e-commerce applications so you can sell directly from your site. Starting your business with these tools is a small first step to getting online sales.
Having a website gives you a place to send your customers and helps you look professional so consumers take your online business more seriously.
Already using a blog to educate customers and sell products? Find out how to optimize your e-commerce blog here.
3. Study Your Online Competition as Closely as Your Customers
Most people going into business know that they need to study their customer base. And, if you plan to grow your business online, really understanding your future buyers will be important for profiting in your marketing to Facebook audiences.
The ideas of creating a buyer persona and “knowing your audience” are all but common knowledge.
However, you shouldn’t forget that studying your competition is just as important as knowing your who your customers are.
Doing a simple Google search for businesses in your market online, as well as those in related markets, can go a long way to helping you learn what works and what doesn’t work when marketing your business online.
Study the tactics and strategies of those who are already doing well, and learn what you can from them to grow your business. Each small step you take in one step closer on the course of business success.
4. Reverse Engineer Your Online Business Success
If you want to know what you can do today to help your company succeed, work backward to uncover the small steps your will need to take to win the the online business game.
Let’s say you want to earn a million dollars in sales. Start with a million dollars and figure out what it would take, monthly, to earn that much.
Look at units sold, subscriptions initiated, or whatever key performance indicator makes sense for your online business.
Then, still working backward, create benchmarks for incremental success until you get to the lowest, or first, benchmark level. Use this knowledge as a guide to your daily activity.
That’s your starting point, and since you’ve worked backward you have a road map to follow that should get you where you want to go. Mapping this out and solid personal management will take from where you are today to the online business you desire. It's a simple course, but harder to implement.
5. If You Can DIY, Do
Having a DIY mentality is often looked down upon. However, in business, it’s very beneficial to try to do a lot of the work yourself.
The fewer people you have to hire in the formative years, the more money you can put into your business. Also, keeping small and learning the processes yourself first, will allow for you to be better at management when the time comes to hire and scale.
Using apps and software programs that help improve efficiency and make complex tasks like accounting simpler to do can free up your time and resources for things like marketing, product development, and content curation.
Documenting your processes at this point will be useful to guide your first hires to take your place as the business builds.
6. Hone Your Business Strengths
Your industry is probably saturated with online businesses who have been doing what you do or selling what you sell.
However, only you have the specific expertise that makes your version of your online business unique. Know where your strengths are and double down in those areas.
For example, if you develop software and you are capable of creating a number of products but you know you excel in financial management apps, put the majority of your effort and money into those apps.
It’s not to say you can’t expand later, but honing in on the areas you know you have specific strength can give you the boost you need in your early years.
A good course of actions is to continue to learn while creating your online business. In this way, you will always be adding new skills, tweaking small levers and upping your strengths so your online business can be a guide to where you need to personally develop or hire.
Wrapping Up: Online Business 101
There are many ways to stand out from the crowd and earn money online.
However, these tips should help get you started toward your goal.
Whether you want to earn a few hundred dollars a month for shopping or you have dreams of owning a multi-million dollar company, these six tips can help take you from where you are now to where you want to be.
Every business starts at square one, so give it time and make purposeful steps towards your goals until you’ve achieved your dreams.
After the Checkout: Make Shipping Easy on Yourself with the Help of Fulfillment Bridge
Once you have your site optimized, from guests checkout options and pricing to images and user generated content, your sales will start to climb. Prepare to keep your customers happy and yourself sane by taking advantage of the full suite of Fulfillment Bridge Ecommerce solutions.