While a lot of us think starting an online business is a costly investment, it can actually be one of the most affordable routes to entrepreneurship. With how many resources there are available today to make launching an online business easier and more accessible to all, there has really never been a better time to give it a shot. If you’ve been considering your own ecommerce store but haven’t taken the leap because you are afraid of the financials, check out these tips for getting your startup off the ground on a shoestring budget.
Start With the Basics
When it comes to launching an ecommerce store on a tight budget, one of the biggest hurdles you face is forming a solid foundation. Granted, a lot of things can be changed once you outgrow them, but you do want to get the fundamentals of your business as close to “right” on the first try as possible. Because you want to formulate something that both speaks to your brand and can generate traffic, getting the bones of your business and website right from the beginning is a crucial first step.
Start brainstorming what the buying experience is going to be like, including how you want your user experience to flow. For this exercise, it might be helpful to literally draw, frame-by-frame, how the website will feel, annotating the different features you’re after. Additionally, try to learn from the example of stores you like, taking note of what they do well and why you like it. This will give you a basic outline with which you can start building a website that works for you.
When it comes to building the website itself, the good news is that there are several players in competition to become the best website creator, so there are more than a few options for intuitive platforms that can walk you through the design process and facilitate setting up your online storefront. Unless you are truly tech illiterate, you should be able to get a functional, attractive website up and running in very little time, without the help of a professional freelancer or agency. That said, you do need to confirm that the platform you use to build your website optimizes the content for mobile, which already accounts for approximately 51.3 percent of internet traffic, according to BGR, and is only expected to grow.
Nail Down Your Branding
As an online shop, branding is going to be one of the most crucial aspects of growing your business, because it is a big part of what sets you apart from the competition. No matter the industry, ecommerce is an incredibly competitive market, with numerous companies trying to earn the attention of consumers. According to LucidPress, 89 percent of B2B marketers say that brand awareness is a priority, which is why you need to come out of the gate with a strong brand presence – your competitors are!
Fortunately, there are a variety of resources available to help you pin down your brand identity and create materials that support your vision, even on the tightest of budgets. There’s no need to consult a graphic designer when you can develop your own materials using a free logo creator online, and there are a huge amount of resources available to help entrepreneurs come up with a strong brand identity if your brainstorming sessions are coming up short. Entrepreneur, Forbes, The Balance, and countless other publications and blogs are chock-full of intel on best branding practices to get your gears turning.
Don’t Forget About Marketing
Once you have the foundations of your business established and can support sales, it’s time to turn your attention to marketing strategy to bring in a customer base. According to Hootsuite, nearly 83 percent of all Americans on social media, making resources like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms a great (and free) starting place for advertising your products or services.
In addition to strategically using social media to benefit your business, it’s worthwhile to study up on content marketing, too. The power of content marketing lies in SEO, or search engine optimization, which is a fancy term for the way in which Google and similar search engines prioritize and display search results based on search keywords, and — more importantly – how your business can use those algorithms to appear on the first page of results when consumers search for things related to your business.
While we can’t say that employing a strong SEO strategy is easy, it’s completely possible to start generating high-quality content and learning the basics of content marketing all on your own without spending a dime. When it comes to marketing your online business, effective social media and content marketing can make or break your business, so it’s worth the investment of time and energy into learning how to maximize your results.
In reality, you can establish an online ecommerce store with virtually zero overhead if you play your cards right, and if you’re willing to work a little harder for it, it’s totally possible to build a super-successful business from the ground up on a shoestring budget.
Have you been building a business on a tight budget? Share your strategies in the comments.