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Even during the current coronavirus pandemic, it is easier than ever before to launch a new online business, thanks primarily to the wide proliferation of free digital tools and resources across the Internet. All you really need these days is a website and domain name, a handful of social media accounts, and a product that you can sell via an e-commerce platform like Shopify. The good news here is that it’s possible to put all these elements of a successful online business together for less than $100. At a time when everyone is looking and buying online, maybe now is the time to start that online business you’ve always been thinking about.
The basics: website, domain name and logo
The first step in your entrepreneurial journey is coming up with a good business name and then buying a matching domain name. Once you have a domain name, then it’s possible to build a website using a popular e-commerce platform like Shopify. Forget about hiring a professional website designer – most of these services are now drag-and-drop, and they offer plenty of templates to make sure that you build an attractive, modern-looking website that is fully functional across all desktop and mobile devices.
Most domain names these days are available for around $15, and as long as you’re willing to pay a recurring monthly fee of about $10, these website building tools will also take care of all of your online hosting. Even better, if you build a site using Shopify, you get access to payment processing as well, meaning that you don’t even have to worry about how to accept online payments like credit cards.
You’ll also need a professional-looking logo. There are plenty of free (or nearly free) tools to use here as well, including some digital services like Tailor Brands that use AI to create the perfect logo for your business. This logo has many uses beyond just looking good on a website. It can be used to brand all of your marketing collateral, and it can also become the avatar for any social media accounts that you launch to promote your business.
Come up with the perfect product or service to sell online
In some cases, you might already have a physical product to sell online. That would be the case, for example, if you were an artist or author. Say you’re a painter. Once you’ve created a website with e-commerce functionality, you can now sell all of your paintings online. And even if you don’t have a physical product to sell, you can also sell digital products online as well. If you’re a consultant, you might be able to sell market reports, e-books or industry studies online. Once you have a PDF document, you can make it available for download. If you’re a physical fitness trainer, for example, you might put together a brief workout or nutritional guide and make it available online.
And what if you don’t have either physical or digital products to sell? Try using a dropshipping service like Printful or Oberlo. With dropshipping, there’s no inventory to worry about. Yes, you won’t make as much money as if you were selling your own products, but you also don’t have to worry about lots of products cluttering up your home. The easiest dropshipping business to start is a t-shirt business, but you can sell just about anything online, as long as you can figure out how to put your logo and branding on it.
Market your business via social media
This last step is perhaps the most important. Now that you have a website or storefront where customers can find you online, and you have a product that they are willing to buy, you now need to market your business. In the old days, this meant expensive print or TV ads, or perhaps stuffing all the mailboxes in certain neighborhoods with flyers and promotional brochures. However, in the social media era, it means setting up a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account and reaching a global, worldwide audience.
All of these social media platforms are free to use, so as long as you’re willing to put in all the hard work of creating content for these platforms and engaging with fans and followers, you can promote your business with a very lean marketing budget. Once you’ve built up some momentum, then you can think of buying Facebook ads or running SEO campaigns on Google. With everyone looking online during this crazy time, there is no better place for customers to find you than on social media.
If you’re stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, this might just be the perfect time to launch a new online business. In fact, if you still have some funds available from your Trump stimulus check, you might say that the government is actually paying you to go out there and get something started right now, just to get this economy rolling again. So if you’ve been thinking about starting a new business recently, and have a few good ideas for products that are now in demand (designer face masks anyone?), it might be possible to do so for $100 or less.