If you have been out of work for a while now and are trying to figure out other options or are just finally ready to take a big leap and start working for yourself. What ever the reason, starting a business of your own could end up making a life long change for you and your family.
Wouldn’t it be great to take initiative and save the day by starting your own business and also be able to leave that business to your children?
Check out these ways to start your own business for around 100 bucks before investing thousands on a startup:
Find an Affordable Web Host: Most hosting plans for small companies offer similar features: basically unlimited storage space, support for common databases and publishing systems, and anywhere from a few gigabytes to 2 terabytes of data transfer per month. Expect to pay between $5 and $15 a month for the service, with a one- or two-year up-front contract. How to pick one from the dozens out there? Look for reviews from recent users, with a particular focus on how quickly the host resolves problems and how often the service goes down. If you expect sudden, big influxes of traffic due to promotions or Digg-like flooding, you’ll want to ensure that the host can handle it. Ask about these issues if the company doesn’t have written policies.
Get Logos and Design Work: Numerous Web sites, such as Logo Ease and LogoMaker, will design a free logo for you based on options you set via a Web interface. The quality varies, but generally you can get the logo for free for online use. The services make money if you want to download the logo in EPS format, which is more suitable for printing on T-shirts and coffee mugs. A Web search for “free logo” will turn up dozens of additional alternatives. Another, possibly better, approach is to seek out an independent designer to work on your logo. If you don’t need anything fancy, you can find someone to do the job for $50 or less through a simple Craigslist ad. The advantage is that you get to work with a live person (with genuine artistic skills) to create something unique for you rather than a cold, computer-generated logo.
Build an E-Commerce Site on the Cheap: If you’re planning to sell a lot of physical goods, you’ll need a service that can handle e-commerce transactions, process credit cards, and provide security for both. Setting all of this up on your own server is an expensive, time-consuming task laden with security risks. It’s best to outsource the functions to a hosted service targeted at merchants. Such services can be surprisingly affordable. Yahoo’s popular Merchant Solutions start at $40 a month. E-commerce sites at Netfirms start at a mere $15 a month. You can customize both extensively to match your desired look and feel.
Find a Big Sales Partner: Thousands of merchants use Amazon to promote their goods, giving Amazon a cut when items sell. The big advantage: You don’t need a Web site at all to sell there. You can sell just about anything that Amazon stocks by registering as a merchant, finding the product page for the item you’re selling, and clicking Sell yours here. Merchants must pay $40 a month, plus a sliding scale of closing fees (6 to 20 percent). Individual sellers can sign up to sell with no monthly fees but must pay an extra 99 cent closing fee.
Think SEO, All the Time: Don’t underestimate the value of optimizing your Web site for Google. But you don’t need to pay an expert thousands of dollars to optimize your site for you: Check out the expert advice from SEOmoz and other search engine optimization writers to learn the basics of SEO, and instill your site with good SEO habits from day one. It takes time for the engines to get to know your site, so be patient. (Just make sure you’ve submitted your URL to all of them!)
Get Bonus Income With Google AdSense: Unless you’re selling physical merchandise, try adding Google AdSense ads to your site. You might pull in only a few dollars a month while your site is small, but that’s more than nothing–plus, it opens the door for bigger ad opportunities down the road.
Constantly Promote Your Business: How do one-person businesses get big? They’re always promoting themselves–always. Add your URL to your e-mail signature. Create a Facebook group for your business. Write a humorous blog about your product or industry (check out Chris Lindland’s Cordarounds blog for ideas). Submit your gems to Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon. Comment on online stories in your field and cast yourself as an expert. Meet and greet at trade shows. Make T-shirts, stickers, and business cards. Give away products to charity events in exchange for an ad. Hold contests for freebies and make people work for the prizes. Above all: Don’t let anyone forget about your new enterprise.
File for a Fictitious Business Name: Unless you intend to receive all incoming payments under your real, legal name (as, say, with a personal consultancy) you need a fictitious business name for your company, also known as a DBA (“doing business as”). You need one because of your bank’s policies: If you receive a check for Acme Widgets, you won’t be able to cash it unless you can prove that Acme is really you.
Incorporate? Skip It: Many “starting a business” guides will encourage you to incorporate, citing the legal protections that such a move offers. Their assertions are true, but unless your new venture is selling herbal Viagra online, your risk of facing a serious legal headache while your business is in its infancy is minimal. It’s far cheaper, easier, and faster to operate as a sole proprietorship, especially in dealing with finances and taxes. If things grow complicated, you can always incorporate later.
The Simple Business Bank Account: You can open a second bank account if you’d like, but if you’re a proprietorship and have a DBA, you can use your personal bank account for business and not have to worry about multiple accounts. Your bank will even print your DBA on personal checks, making them suitable for business use.
Set Up a Switchboard: If you’re expecting a lot of incoming phone calls, an answering service might be worth the investment: You’ll seem more professional to customers, and you won’t be roused from bed at the crack of dawn by callers who don’t understand what time zones are. You can have a live answering service (similar to the one your doctor uses) for $20 a month–or less, if you have minimal incoming calls. Another option is to do it virtually: For about $10 a month, you can get an 800-number-based system such asRingCentral that answers calls with an automated greeting, routing calls to you (or other employees or contractors) or to voice mail depending on button presses.
If you have the time and commitment to putting in the hard work you should be able to easily get your company off the ground. Becoming and staying successful, now that’s another story.
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