So you want to start a business but you don't have a lot of money? Start your business online, and it won't be a problem.
There are some pretty terrific resources you can use. Some of them you have to pay for, but they are inexpensive and can get you started quickly and easily.
1. A domain and web hosting. If you want others to see you as a professional and take you seriously, then you need to invest in your own domain and web hosting.
Purchased separately, the cost can add up very quickly. Here are some very low cost solutions to help you put your name on the map.
Dot Easy - http://www.doteasy.com" target=new>http://www.doteasy.com - For only $25 per year, you can purchase your own domain. The web hosting is completely free. Although this hosting account is stripped of all the bells and whistles like CGI, you still get 15MB of bannerless hosting for free, and if you build minisites, this is a really cheap way for you to get started. Buy a domain a month, and before you know it, you have your own empire of products set up for a lot less than if you had bought all of this separately.
Go Daddy - http://www.godaddy.com" target=new>http://www.godaddy.com - Although as far as I know they offer domain names for the cheapest price on the Internet at $6.95, their service is pretty good. I buy all of my domains here, and I've never had any problems.
Free Web Space - http://100best-free-web-space.com/" target=new>http://100best-free-web-space.com/ - If money is a real problem right now, but you still want to make a good impression, then this site can help you find the most affordable web hosting or even bannerless hosting that's free.
Remember, you get what you pay for, so eventually, when you can afford it, upgrade. There are some good budget web hosts out there like Dot Easy, but for the most part, you get what you pay for.
2. Web Site Creation Tools.
There are some fantastic tools on the Internet you can use to build your web site, and they're all free.
Considered to be the best HTML editor online, Front Page 2000 will give you hundreds of scripts, as well as a free FTP client you can unzip into the directory and upload your files directly from the HTML editor.
There are four different modes, including beginner and expert, so no matter what level at creating HTML you are, this free editor will definitely help you.
You'll find it here: http://www.evrsoft.com" target=new>http://www.evrsoft.com.
While you're there, make sure you check out the free metatag creator, as well as some of the other great free online tools you'll find there.
If you want to get the most from your web site, scripts will help you do this. You don't have to be an expert in installation either. You can quickly and easily learn how to install them. I taught myself from reading some of the webmaster sites online.
You have two choices when it comes to installing scripts on your site:
You can install them yourself, or you can use remotely hosted scripts. Remotely hosted scripts are great when you don't have a CGI bin on your site.
This site is offering scripts for free: http://site-by-design.com/affiliates.php" target=new>http://site-by-design.com/affiliates.php - Scripts include: Autoresponder Script, Fly-In Ads Script, Paid To Read Emails Script, Safelist Script, Rotator Script, Homepage Traffic Script. Definitely worth a look.
Two resources that offer a wide variety of scripts in different formats are:
http://www.cgiextremes.com/" target=new>http://www.cgiextremes.com/ http://www.hotscripts.com" target=new>http://www.hotscripts.com
If you want remotely hosted scripts, the best sites I have found are:
http://www.cgispy.com" target=new>http://www.cgispy.com http://www.bravenet.com" target=new>http://www.bravenet.com
4. Autoresponders. Autoresponders will help you in two ways: you can use them for your opt in lists and ezines, and you can also use them to follow up with your customers.
With opt in lists and ezines, an autoresponder will save you the trouble of handling subscribe and unsubscribe requests, which can become very tedious after awhile. This will allow you to automate the mundane part of building a relationship with your customers and newsletter subscribers, providing you with the credibility you need online to make the sale.
Two sites that offer free autoresponders that are very reliable are: http://www.getresponse.com/" target=new>http://www.getresponse.com/ http://www.sendfree.com/" target=new>http://www.sendfree.com/
Please note: when using free autoresponders, the site owner will send his/her ads with your messages. This is valuable message real estate. It's better to pay for your autoresponders, if possible, so that you can place your own ads in the headers and footers of all your messages.
5. Online Tools.
There is a whole host of online tools you can use to help you with your business including email formatters, newsletter formatters, sales letter and press release formatters, as well as wizards to help you build your web site.
Below are some of the best:
Pertinent Inc. - http://www.pertinent.com" target=new>http://www.pertinent.com - Offers a free press release creator, as well as a sales letter generator.
Free Online Wizards - http://www.thesitewizard.com/wizards/index.shtml" target=new>http://www.thesitewizard.com/wizards/index.shtml - This site offers everything from a wizard to help you syndicate your content to form creators and drop down menu creators. Lots of tips and articles too.
Email Formatter - http://www.formatit.com" target=new>http://www.formatit.com - Tired of getting emails with a ton of >>>>> in them? You can use this site to strip those tags out, as well as reformat your emails to any width. Great for formatting articles too.
6. Business Software.
You can find thousands of dollars in free software to help you build your business by searching through software sites online.
My favorite is Freeware Home: http://www.freewarehome.com" target=new>http://www.freewarehome.com. You'll find over 7,000 applications at last count here, and they're all free, full sized versions of the program.
Two applications you won't want to be without are:
Open Office - http://www.openoffice.org" target=new>http://www.openoffice.org - Formerly Star Office, this open source application is the best rival to Microsoft Office. You can use it to do everything from convert your documents to PDF, to word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. There's also a version for MAC, making this a must see application when you can't afford other expensive applications.
Banana Cash Books - http://www.banana.ch/banana4/eng/bc4_cashbook.shtml" target=new>http://www.banana.ch/banana4/eng/bc4_cashbook.shtml - Although this single entry accounting program accepts just about any currency, if you want to use the accounting method the IRS recommends for small business, this nice little free program will definitely do the trick.
7. Business Education.
Once you have your business up and running, it's a good idea to stay up to date with your business and marketing knowledge.
There are a lot of great ways to do this including forums, article directories, mailing lists, and newsletters.
There are also some great resource heavy sites out there you can benefit from. Below are three of my favorites:
My 1st Business - http://www.my1stbusiness.com" target=new>http://www.my1stbusiness.com - Run by Ben Botes, you'll find plenty of ecourses, seminars and more covering small business, ecommerce, marketing, and other topics. You need to sign up for an account, but it's free, and definitely worth a look.
Free Marketing Resources - http://www.jdbmail.com/" target=new>http://www.jdbmail.com/ - Run by Jimmy D. Brown, one of my all time favorite marketers, and quite frankly, one of the best, you'll find audio, ecourses, and other resources in plain English that can teach you how to market online. Jimmy doesn't just teach you what to do; he shows you how to do it, and he spells it out. It doesn't matter if you are a complete newbie, or if you have been marketing for some time. You'll benefit from Jimmy's excellent teaching.
Ebook Directory - http://www.ebookdirectory.com" target=new>http://www.ebookdirectory.com - Run by Noel Hynes, this is the most comprehensive collection of small business and Internet marketing ebooks on the Internet, and they're absolutely free. You'll also find plenty of other ebooks here including motivational, writing, and a whole lot more.
There are plenty of free resources on the Internet to help you build your business. The trick is learning when you should buy products and services for your business and when you can get a freebie that will do the job just as well and sometimes better.
A quick search of Alexa, http://www.alexa.com" target=new>http://www.alexa.com, will help you find some of the best.
Jinger Jarrett is a former military journalist and newspaper reporter who teaches and consults on article writing. You can get her latest ebook, (it's free), "100+ Best FREE and Paid Resources for Writers, Internet Marketers, and Small Business