As a shoestring business, we were able to successfully start our business with less than $100. One of the advantages we had was being able to design our own website for free because that is what we do. But for those who are not web designers, here is how to start your business with only $100:
- Take some time to think about the purpose of your business, who you are targeting (and be specific when you define your target audiences as this will help you craft successful marketing messages), and decide on what makes your business unique and different (not just better than the competition) – also known as your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). These steps are important because it lays the framework for all the next steps. There are also free worksheets online to help with all of this. FREE
- Name your company. Think of a name that describes what it is or what you do — or at least add a descriptive tagline so people are not guessing what you do. FREE
- Use this tool to search for a domain – make sure it’s available: http://www.instantdomainsearch.com FREE
- Design a logo for free here: http://www.logomaker.com FREE
- Buy your domain for 1 year = $10.17 (Go Daddy). Add the Deluxe Website Builder for $8.99/month. This will give you the ability to build a website without knowing web design skills and hosting is included. You do not have to pay extra for an email box package. You get a free email with the website and you can set it up so it forwards to a Gmail account so you do not have to worry about running out of space. In Gmail you can add your new business email account so you can receive and send emails from the new business email right from Gmail—you may add all your emails here and manage them from one hub (AOL, Yahoo, etc.). (Later when your business is profitable, we highly recommend investing in a new website but to get started this is sufficient.) COST= $19.16
- Set up a Facebook Fan Page for your company. Use this article to help you: How to Use the New Faceboook Timeline for Business. Invite all your Facebook friends and ask them to like your page and share it. (You can also set up a free Twitter Account and use the Twitter Facebook app to auto-post your Facebook posts to Twitter.) FREE
- Registering your company with your city $15 (for my city this is the cost – Bridgeport, CT, but could vary). Later get an LLC to fully protect yourself, but this will cost $120 (in CT at least) to file the papers with the Secretary of State so just registering your company with your town/city will allow you to open a DBA bank account under your company name. Most banks can register your company for you and set up the account. COST= $15
- Business Cards: Buy 250 business cards from Vista Print for $19.73 (choose premium matte finish for a more polished look). This price may vary but will be lower than $25. Plus search on Google for “Vistaprint Coupon Code” to find a free shipping code for new customers and perhaps other discount codes. Cost = $19.73
- Write an ebook or guide to give as your “value offering” on your website. In exchange for you sending the eBook to people, collect their name and email which can be used to build an email marketing list and prospect list. FREE
- Sign up with Constant Contact for 60 day free trial: www.constantcontact.com. Write an informational/educational/useful article such as How to…., Top 10 Tips for…., Why you Should…., Checklist for…. – Use benefit based messaging; always answer “WIFI” aka “what’s in it for them” your audience? Design a template in Constant Contact that matches your website – point, click and drag – easy to do. Add your article to your email using a catchy subject line, add a section about your company with a link to your new website, ask people to share the newsletter and like you on Facebook. Also, give a special grand opening offer for people to use your product or test out your services. Upload your contacts: friends and family are a great start to get the word out. The trial allows you to have up to a 100 contacts – if you have more contacts then the plans start out at $15/month. FREE if under 100 contacts.
- Go to a networking event! This is how we got our first few clients and after that we have gotten all our business from referrals. Check www.meetup.com for a business networking event in your area. In NYC one of my favorites is www.swapthebiz.com and their events are about $25 to enter but you will walk out with new business! Worth every dollar. Cost = $25.
- Write a press release and distribute for free! To help you get search engine results and more exposure for your new business write a press release about your new company and post on these free press release websites: http://mashable.com/2007/10/19/press-releases. Writing a successful press release is crucial and you can find out how here: How to Write a Press Release. (Look up some of your local media – TV, newspapers, radio – and send your release to them as well via email. Most times you can find an email on their website.) FREE
This is an excellent way to start your business in under $100… it is possible because we did it ourselves. The above cost is only $78.89! So you have $21.11 left over. Getting a patent or trademark to protect your idea if it’s a product is important and this should be one of your next steps soon after you do the above.
This guest post is courtesy Tasha Mayberry. She is the Co-Founder of Social Media 22 with her husband Pasha. Social Media 22 is a web design and internet marketing company that helps companies gain online visibility and obtain new business using easy and affordable techniques. They specialize in custom website development, website revamping, blog and newsletter design, search engine optimization, social media marketing, public relations/media outreach, and overall marketing for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Tasha has gotten clients on major news TV networks including Good Morning America, Fox, and NBC. Additionally, their clients have been seen in many magazines including In Touch Weekly, Baby & Child, and more as well as major radio shows.
Additional Information from Tasha Mayberry
Image courtesy of vichie81 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net