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So, you want to start your own business? Awesome!

I find that new entrepreneurs believe they have to have a large budget in order to
start. This is simply not true. This post will provide you all the tools that you need to start (some are optional). All of the tools will be free or extremely low in price.

So let’s get started! At the end of this post you will have everything you need to get started in less than 30 days. The goal is make you:

  • Aware of tools that can help you get set-up quickly.
  • Learn places that you can start selling your products today.
  • In a situation to start making money today.

Do you need a website?

While a website is great, you can absolutely start making sales without a website.  I have worked with clients that have been selling on Instagram and making great money.

Having a website is a great way to showcase all of your offerings, products, and services in one place. As your business evolves, so will your site. But in the beginning, free can work.

So, how can I set-up a free site?

  1. WordPress:
    You can have a free site hosted on WordPress. Just know that this is a bit limiting in the things that you can do with the site, but it will work for those just starting out with a slim budget. You have to make sure that you pick a theme that has the look that you want for your site, since initially you will not have a designer to make custom tweaks.
  2. Weebly:
    You can design your own website and have it hosted for free on Weebly. Weebly has modern themes that help you get started quickly. It utilizes drag and drop technology that allows you to easily layout your website.
  3. Wix: Just like Weebly, they offer a platform to create a free website. They have themes that also utilize drag and drop technology.
Tip:
If you are designing your own site, you will need to plan out the layout for effective user experience. You need to make sure that your site has the following key elements:
  • Clear content that showcases exactly what you sell or provide on the home
    page (you have less than 10 secs for your visitors to be intrigued and stay or get bored and leave)
  • Make sure that your about page is not your resume, but a highlight or who you are and how you can serve/help your ideal client
  • A way to collect email addresses
  • Links to your social media platforms
  • A contact page or a way for people to contact you

What if I want a storefront?

  1. Etsy: This site is set-up for the handmade, vintage, and supply community. You can have a storefront set-up in less than 48 hours. Each product that you list is .20¢. This is actually the platform that I used when I first opened my business (Eve-n-Andy). I used this platform exclusively for selling for the first 2 years I was in business.
  2. Square: Start selling your products online with Square. They allow you to set up a free online business with premade, customizable templates. They charge a transaction fee of 2.9% + .30¢ each time you sell your product.
  3. Big Cartel: They allow you to have a free storefront for your first 5 products. The site is mobile friendly and allows your customers to shop easily on their phones or tablets. (The first 2 mentioned sites also have this feature).
  4. Miiduu: The extra that this site offers is that you can set up a multi-lingual
    site. This platform is free when you have 15 products or less.
Tip: When you are first starting out on a budget, you want to start without needing upfront inventory. If using the storefronts mentioned above, maybe have it where you only purchase, print, or make the items after it is paid for by the client.

What if I want to design products (likes shirts, mugs, iphone cases…)?

  1. Teespring: You have a t-shirt design? Great! You can take your design and let Teespring handle all of the rest. They charge you a fee for the t-shirt and the shipping and you determine how much you want to charge for your shirt. They take their fees out of your final price.
  2. Society 6: Want to sell more than t-shirts? Society 6 might be your choice. They allow you to put your designs on mugs, shirts, throw pillows, beach towels, i-phone cases + more. They have a set fee for each item and you make your profit from the difference of their fee and your set product price.
  3. CafePress: Just like the others mentioned above, you can easily start selling your designs on different products with no upfront money necessary.

If I want a custom domain…

If you decide to have your own custom url for any of the sites mentioned above, the price for a year will range from $1.99 to $12.99. All of the above website hosts allow you to have a free domain (www.yourbusinessname.theircompanyname.com). This makes the url pretty long (and harder to remember). Having a shorter url will make it easier for customers to find you and for them to remember. It is, however, not necessary when you are first starting out if you do not have the funds.
Here are some sites to purchase your url:
  1. namecheap.com
  2. GoDaddy.com
  3. register.com
Tip: Check out my Free, branding guide for tips on choosing a company name and securing your url.

What about a business phone number?

If you live in the US or Canada & you already have a landline or cell phone, you can turn it into a business phone number with its own, unique number/voicemail. You just have to have a google mail (gmail -free) account. It allows you to make calls and send text with your business number. Perks: Free US & Canada calls and texts
Get your business phone here.
Tip:
This is important to have if you are creating a service based business (life coach, consultant, web or graphic designer) or if you plan on providing customer support with physical products.

What if I have international clients?

For those living in the US or for those living outside the US and have US clients, I recommend that you use Skype or Google Hangouts. With Skype, you do not have to have live video. You can still chat with just your avatar visible.

Do I need a business email address?

Yes, you need a business address in order for clients and potential clients to contact you. If you signed up for a custom domain, then most providers give you a complimentary email address. If you did not, don’t worry. You can sign-up for a free gmail or yahoo account to start. You can brand even a free email by making it yourbusiness.gmail.com or yourbusinessname.yahoo.com.

Do I need an appointment scheduler?

Maybe. If you plan on having a way for clients to book appointments, then you absolutely need an appointment scheduler. Here are some free options:
  1.  Calendly
  2.  vCita

How do I draw traffic to my website (products & services)?

With limited funds, you will have to be creative with your marketing. You will have to do most of your own marketing (but you can do it).
  1.  Recruit Friends & Family: Do not ask them to buy from you (You will never know if they would have used your services or if they are just doing it to support you). Instead, ask them to recommend you (services/products) to people within their circle that would love or need what you have to offer.
  2. Give Away Something Free: You can do this two ways (and I recommend both). You can create great articles (blog stories) for your site. You also create an irresistible freebie that will encourage people to sign-up for your mailing list (a way to remind people about your site). Give them free and valuable content that would normally be worth money. This will allow people to get your expertise and encourage them to start talking about how the great value you provide.
  3. Get Social: You will need to hangout with your ideal clients. In this day and age, you can do that from the comfort of your own house (sofa, bed, desk..). You have to strategically pick the platform that your client uses the most. For some businesses, that will be Facebook and Periscope. For others, that will be LinkedIn and Twitter. You have to go where they are and start connecting.
  4.  Go Live: Live streaming, live training, and live webinars are a great way for your clients to get a sense of your personality. It allows them to connect with you and see if you really know what you are talking about. People buy from people that they can relate to and that they can learn from. You can do live streaming, mini webinars, and training using free platforms such as Periscope, Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, and Blab.
  5. In Person Meet-ups: You can make in-person sales with local meet-ups. You can do a live training at your local library (small conference room rental is free at most libraries with a library card). You can have product sneak peeks at your local coffee shop (free as long as you buy a cup of coffee or tea). You can go to local networking events.

You mentioned a mailing list?

Of course! Having a way for people to opt-in to your mailing list is valuable! This is a great way to continue the conversation with people who came to site and showed interest (by signing up to be on your mailing list). The freebie is the thing that initially puts them on your list. The content and information that you provide after that ensures that they stay on your list.
Here are some free mailing (marketing) services that provide professional newsletter email templates, list builder pop-ups (boxes) for your website, and more:
  1. Benchmark
  2. Mailchimp
  3. Vertical Response
  4. Mad Mimi
Tip: When picking one of the free plans above, pay attention to how many subscribers are included in the free plan.

Now, what about pictures for the website?

There are 2 types of pictures that you will need for your website. You will need great pictures of yourself and great pictures of everything else (to include blog pictures, home page pictures, product pics and more).
For the picture of yourself, you will need to have a professional looking photo. You do not have to spend a lot of money to create. You can get inspiration from places like Pinterest. Then, you can create the same type of set-up. Here’s what you will need:
  • A great friend, husband, or a child to take the photo
  • Smart phone with a camera feature (Apple or Android will do)
  • Great lighting (sunny days work)
  • Bring out your personality (have fun)
  • Pose for headshots and portrait (full body) shots
  • Voila, you have a great selection to choose
Tip: Take some pictures in front of solid backgrounds. This will make it easier to add copy (text) for your social media graphics.
For the other pictures on your site, you can choose to use stock photos. When using stock photos, please make sure they match your business brand & they connect with your ideal client.
Here are some places to find free stock photos:
  1. Pixabay
  2. PicJumbo
  3. Unsplash
  4. Compfight

And great graphics for your website & social media posts?

You can create wonderful graphics using free, online programs.
  1. Canva: Quickly create branded social media post and graphics for your site
  2. Adobe Spark: Create branded social media post, splash webpages and videos
  3. PicMonkey: Stylize your photos/images (similar to Photoshop) and add copy (text) for social media posts
You can also use those programs (especially Canva) to create your business cards, postcards, and flyers.
Here is a list of places to print good quality and reasonable business cards & marketing materials:
  • GotPrint: 100 standard business cards for $8.30
  • VistaPrint: 100 business cards for $7.99

Did I leave anything out?

Probably, but this is really all that you need to get started.
I started with a computer, an Etsy shop, and free, online training (Lynda.com which had a 60 day free trial). By the way, Lynda.com is now free with a library card in most cities. I started without a team, a budget, and even a plan. I definitely figured it out as I went along.

If you want to grab a free copy of the ‘Start Your Business’ Planner Worksheet that complements the above information, you can grab it here.

Do you create great content? Join us to submit your articles here!


 

 

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