In this post I’m going to show you exactly how to start an online business with no money! Well, virtually no money. Nothing in this world is free, but it is possible to start an online business for fairly cheap.
In fact, I started my first business for less than $300 and my first clients paid me a total of $3000, that’s a 233% ROI.
And I’m proud to say, not much has changed since 2016 (in fact, it’s probably even more affordable)! So let’s get started with how you can build a profitable business for less than a year’s worth of Starbucks Lattes.
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Start The Right ONLINE Business
First thing’s first: starting the right type of business. There really are a so many ways to make money online but some are just not long-term financially stable, and will cost you a lot more money up front to get started. So I never recommend that you start anything that will require you to stock or distribute inventory.
This will usually eliminate most MLM’s or product-based eCommerce businesses. There’s just too much risk and stress if you can sell the products. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend starting anything that’s going to require a high educational investment. Most good Coaching Certification programs will cost you at least $2000.00. Even with a payment plan, if you can’t make your money back within the first 6 months, it might not be worth it.
But don’t worry, there are tons of other profitable online business that you can start with very little investment if you don’t have the skills needed.
In many cases, the most affordable business you can start online is a service-based business. This means taking whatever skills and knowledge you have currently (Social Media, Web Design, Administrative Assistant, Project Management, HR, Legal, Writing etc.) and turning that into ‘Done-For-You’ Service Packages!
To get up and running quickly, serviced-based consulting is the way to go. And look, you can eventually move into coaching or ecommerce when you’re ready both emotionally and financially!
Think about what skills and knowledge you currently have and love to do. If you’re a little shaky on your skills check out awesome platforms like Udemy, CreativeLive, and Skillshare. I first learn to code taking courses via Udemy for $10.99.
Business License: $150.00/yr
Easily the biggest expense you’ll have up-front, but necessary if you intend to get a business bank account (which I do recommend) or hire on contractors (which you may want to later on).
Head to your local county administration offices and do this in-person rather than using a 3rd party legal firm as it will save you money. Even if you’re not quite sure what you’ll need, they usually have all the forms necessary and will help you get everything set up. They’re a bit nicer than the DMV (eye-rollllll).
Brand Photography: Free
Use your phone on Portrait Mode.
The computer processors in smartphones are phenomenal these days! There’s no need for you to invest hundreds of dollars in a brand photoshoot in the beginning stages of your business, but, having good quality photos that (a) prove you’re a real person and (b) show you are professional are still necessary!
Head outside to the nearest hippest area (cafe, park, mixed-use development) in your neighborhood (don’t worry about on-lookers) get a couple of vertical shots and a couple landscape (horizontal) shots which you can use for your website initially.
If you’re nervous about taking your photo, check out Sorelle Amore, she’s a travel photographer who started a movement she calls The Advanced Selfie University. Her channel has amazing tutorials on taking selfies including confidence, posing, and staging your shots!
Logo Design: Canva $14.95
Take full advantage of the minimalist movement when it comes to branding. A simple Wordmark logo that is just your name in an elegant font (even if it’s not a script font) can actually speak volumes for your business and save you some money.
And even though I have the tools and exprience to create a professional logo, I actully just did my most recent one in Canva.
Canva is a graphic design tool that I use daily in my business and while they have a free version, I do use the pro which costs $14.95/mo.
Related: How To Choose Your Business Name
Website domain/hosting – $10.95/mo
Now it’s time to get your website set up. You’ll need a Domain Name, WordPress Hosting, and Professional Email Address such as firstname.lastname@example.org. This is so your potential customers can contact you and you don’t have to feel like a loser using your gmail account ( I’m talking to you email@example.com ;).
I know a lot of people have been wanting to try all-in-one website builder like Squarespace or Wix, but I’m going to strongly suggest that you don’t for a two reasons:
- Customization – These providers are template based so when you choose your template you’ll go with what you have (even if you buy 3rd party templates) and change the fonts, colors, etc. but the actual layouts and many of the design features… what you see is what you get unless you know how to code.
- Integrations – WordPress is the most widely used website platform in the world. Therefore, it integrates with a lot. This means as you start to grow your business and you want to do things like host courses or sell products, instead of having to use another platform, you can build it right on your site.
Website Design – $49.00/year
Back to customizing your site. I’m a huge fan of using a page-builder theme like Divi by Elegant Themes (this site is built with Divi). However, for the purposes of keeping costs low, you may want to go with a less expensive alternative like Elementor Pro.
Page-builders give you the flexibility to build your website the way you want it, without the dread of needing to code. They’re usually drag and drop and come with their own library of customizable page templates. You can add or delete elements and get your site looking the exact way you want it!
I suggest the following five (5) pages for all online business owners: Home, About, Blog. Services, Contact.
And I know what you’re thinking: But what if I don’t want a blog!! Short Answer: You need a blog! We’ll talk about why in another post!
CRM (Customer Relationship Manager)(optional) – $35/mo
Lastly, I’ll recommend you have a CRM: Customer Relationship Manager. These extremely useful tools are perfect for mapping out your entire client experience!
From sending quotes, contracts, and invoices– to creating a client portal so you can communicate on project details; these all-in-one platforms help keep you sane while making the customer journey seamless. Which is critical for gaining referrals and creating Customer Lifestime Value (meaning they keep coming back!).
Set up your CRM and embed your contact form into your Contact Me page on your website!
Great CRMs to consider are Dubsado, Honeybook, or 17Hats which all cost less than $40.00/mo.
So there you have it, total start-up costs: $260.00!
Pretty slim investment if you ask me.
And if you’re now wondering how you can turn that tiny investment into a live-able salary, then go-ahead and get started on these things and then come back to my channel to learn more about getting your clients and building your confidence!
READY TO START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS?
Then you need my 35-Page Workbook/Workshop for Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs. You’ll learn exactly how to plan and organize your first online business. Get started by clicking below.