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How to Start an Online Business Cheap

The economy isn’t going to be doing anyone any favors any time soon, so more and more people are looking into the option of starting their own business idea. There is no shortage of ideas out there, and a good online business idea is probably something that’s come to mind at least once. Going online is a lot less expensive than a business that’s in the brick and mortar, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t cost the entrepreneur. The best thing to do is prepare for the inevitable expenses and have a good idea of where the money is going to end up going.

* Product or Service?

From the get-go, know whether that good online business idea is about selling a product or selling a service. This will help determine the direction of the site’s design later on – no point in having a “shopping cart” function if there are no products being sold. This can also help determine what payment methods the business will use.

* Web Hosting

Any good online business idea is not going to take off if it never makes it online in the first place. A good web host is a necessity, not only for getting the business on the Internet, but also for making sure it is reliable enough for customers to access it consistently.

Reviews are always a good place to start when seeking web hosting for someone’s online business ideas. Focus on details such as how quickly problems get sorted out and how efficient the tech support is. Another detail to watch out for is how often the whole service goes down for any reason. Consider these and the expected traffic of the business when looking for hosting.

* Designs

A good online business idea isn’t enough, of course. The website itself has to be easy for customers to access and navigate. A confusing website design can lead to a loss of customers; it isn’t unheard of for a potential buyer to give up because they can’t figure out why the site won’t let them buy anything.

Can’t afford a designer? Go with a simple free template and just add on to it as the business goes forward. No reason to have an overly complex site if the product or service doesn’t warrant one. When redesign time comes, do it all at once and inform customers ahead of time, so they aren’t surprised by the changes.

* Skill Requirements

There are a lot of skills required to turn an online business idea into something successful. It isn’t surprising to learn that not everyone has all of those skills. Be sure to know the basics of things like HTML, search engine optimization, web copywriting and web marketing. These are very useful in making sure the business has the potential to be noticed by customers.

The skills needed could also be made available by taking in a partner for the business. This not only provides the required skills, but also increases the number of people involved in starting the business venture. Sometimes this can help it survive the difficult early years.

* Early-game Advertising

No matter how great the online business idea is, it isn’t going to do much good if nobody hears about the business. To that end, being online isn’t enough. E-mail friends and contacts about the new business and try to spread the word as early as possible, to establish some form of customer base. No business survives without customers and it is important to build one as early as you can.

* Think SEO

Search engine optimization is absolutely necessary these days for a website to get noticed. Try and learn about it and then design the site and the content to appear as highly-ranked on the popular search engines as possible, to increase the chances of being noticed.

There are considerations when trying to start a low-cost business from an online business idea that can get very specific, but there are also very general things to keep in mind. People sometimes forget that good online business ideas aren’t enough – the site has to work, people have to know about it, the host has to be reliable, and a little luck doesn’t hurt either.

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Lorna Li

Chief Evolutionary Officer at Entrepreneurs for a Change
Lorna Li is a business coach, entrepreneur and Amazon rainforest crusader, with a passion for green business, social enterprise, and indigenous wisdom. She helps changemaking entrepreneurs harness the power of the Internet to reach more people and make a bigger impact, while designing the lifestyle of their dreams. She is an Internet marketing consultant to changemakers, and works with innovative tech startups, sustainable brands, social enterprises & B-Corporations on SEO, SEM & Social Media marketing.
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