The Internet opened a door of opportunities to the business world. Most entrepreneurs today are starting online businesses, and that’s because it’s a comparatively cheaper alternative to any other form of startup.
Building a successful business depends on skills, ethics and integrity. Things like hiring, bookkeeping, marketing, and Business 101 (Customer, supply and demand, competition, ROI, and fixed and variable cost) require skills and funding.
So how do you start an online business without skills and on a tight budget?
1. Know if you want to be an entrepreneur
A great business idea with zero capital doesn’t mean your path to entrepreneurship is over. There are plenty of ways to start a business without money. All you need is an entrepreneurial mindset: patience, hard work, creativity, and the willingness to test new things.
One of the keys to starting an online business is to first find out your why. Why do you want to be an entrepreneur? An eagerness to do something more creative, is good sign you have been bitten by the entrepreneur bug.
With all the automation happening in the economy, creativity (entrepreneurship) is a scarce resource.
2. Find a niche
The secret sauce to succeeding as an online entrepreneur is to find a niche that’s not crowded. The common mistake most entrepreneurs make is to pick a crowded marketplace.
Finding a niche that might work for you is very important when you are running low on money.
Look at blogs, social media, and other online businesses. Then think about your niche from the consumer point of view. Is there a problem that you can provide a solution to? For instance, a product that’s hard to trace online or one that’s poorly done.
Once you discover your niche, launch with a lean product, test the market and then iterate your product based on consumer feedback.
3. You don’t need to have a background of expertise
For instance, you don’t need a tech background to jump straight into the deep end of starting a tech business.
If you don’t have tech expertise, you can build an expertise by hiring a team of experts. Start by building a basic website platform.
4. Use social proof to sell products
Social proof is the most vital part of executing your landing page strategy. The form of social proof that you choose can instigate specific emotional triggers that will clout your customers’ feelings towards their purchase and your business.
Customers buy products that change their lives positively and make them feel good. By using social proof in the form of testimonials, reviews, and trust icons you’re helping them make a decision, and feel confident about their choice.
Practical examples of social proof for a tech business:
- when your customers browse your landing page and see a testimonial from an industry expert they respect.
- when they’re cruising pricing pages and see that an industry giant is already using the tool you are offering.
- when they sign up for a demo because they see the tool solved the exact problem they have for a similar company.
Essentially, it’s borrowing third-party influence to sway potential customers.
If you can achieve this goal with your own online business, then you will be well on your way to having a successful startup.
5. Try some simple social media tricks
Content is king for any online business to succeed. Create valuable content that’s relevant to your end customer. This will increase your online sales. The simple way to test if a social media post works is by seeing how many likes and comments it gets. Over time, you will figure out what’s working and what’s not, and then you can adjust your social media strategy accordingly.
A really quick, no-cost, and easy tip that works well for most social media platforms is having a call to action (CTA) on all your content. If you use Instagram, add a question to your picture description to get people talking about your post.
6. Build relationships with investors early
A relationship with an investor is like a marriage; you have to ensure you like them and feel comfortable around them. You are going to spend loads of time with them so they have to be perfect for your startup.
Dealing with Venture Capital or Private Equity firms can be arduous especially when you want to scale up your online business, so you need to know how to deal with them.
Start by creating a wishlist of investors. If you don’t have any in mind, use your competitor’s. Then introduce yourself to each of them early enough. Otherwise, if you wait until you need them to invest, you’ll be like a stranger to them, and so they are unlikely to fund your business.
Additionally, investors are a bit like converting customers on your website – they also need social proof. Have a large funnel of them since only a few of them will convert.
Besides, if your funnel of investors is too small, other investors may wonder why there are no other interested investors. Summing up; engage investors early on and remember to send them regular updates on how your online business is tracking.
7. Get some practical education
In most cases, a traditional business degree will miss a lot of practical advice. The basics of setting up a business and managing its day to day activities are never covered in business schools. Consider joining any unconventional entrepreneur course.
You’ll not only gain the knowledge but also the opportunity to build a network of great entrepreneurs and thought leaders. These people are going through the same struggle so they can often help with highly relevant solutions.
And if unconventional entrepreneur education doesn’t suit you, then there are a number of other methods you can meet like-minded entrepreneurs, you just have to put yourself out there!
If something matters to you and you want it real bad, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have money or skills — you have to work for it. But if you keep waiting for the right time to start a business, you might end up waiting for the rest of your life.
Start with what you have and work hard to earn the rest, stay focused on your vision, money and skills will follow.
The next time you think you don’t have the resources or the skills to start a business, think about where you’d be today if you’d started a year ago. Then think about where you’ll be next year if you start now.