E-commerce businesses are the fastest growing sector of the small business community, and with good reason. With billions of people shopping online, and social media making it easier to reach your ideal customer than ever before, many people are excited to make a start.
But do you need a big budget to get going? Or is it possible to start an e-commerce product business without any money?
Make it lean
Starting any business with absolutely no money is very difficult to do, but there are lots of ways in which you can keep your costs low at the start. In fact, it makes a lot of sense to keep things lean as you learn.
Until you get out there and start actually selling to your customer, there are many things that you just don’t know, from the types of products that will be most popular to what your customers are willing to pay for certain items.
Keeping it lean as you start out will help you conserve precious cash for when you have a clearer idea about exactly what you want to build later on. For example, instead of paying to have a brand created for you before you even launch, use a free tool like Canva to create a brand look for your business. There are so many templates you can pick to get started.
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To sell online, eventually you will need a website, but even before then, all you really need to get started are a way of taking payments, such as PayPal and a way of communicating with your customer.
You can get a free email marketing account using MailChimp and start collecting email addresses to help you stay in touch with your customers as you grow, all without spending any money up front.
Use your smartphone camera to make videos and photos of your products and start selling them via social media, perhaps Instagram or TikTok. Not sure how best to use your camera for photos? Take a look at sites like Udemy for low cost courses on hundreds of subjects.
Why not even consider live streaming? This method of selling is one of the fastest growing areas of e-commerce. It also has the benefit of being very easy to set up, no equipment needed other than a phone and the willingness to talk to your customers live on camera!
Don’t over commit to stock
When you are first starting out, one of the easiest ways to tie up your vital cash is to buy too much stock. Look for ways to purchase as little as possible while you build your audience and test what people actually want to buy from you.
Start with a small number of products, even one item if you like! You can always grow your product range as you progress, but at the beginning, keeping your quantities small is absolutely crucial to help you control your costs.
Being tightly controlled with the amount of stock that you have is one of the best ways to start on a limited budget. Ideally, the profit from the sales of those items can get reinvested to buy more stock, which you then sell, and reinvest those profits. This “snowball” effect can help you build up your stock holding over time.
Do it yourself
You won’t have to do everything yourself forever, in fact, one day your main job will be handing off as much as you can. But at the beginning, learn as much as you can about running a product business.
Consider a low cost option like joining a membership to help you get access to knowledge, support and a community of other business owners, which may well save you money in the long run as it will help you avoid costly mistakes as you grow.
By keeping your costs tightly controlled, you’ll be able to put your dream into motion with less money than you think. In fact, learning how to do more with less money is an important skill that will help you build your dream business profitably.