From the Bright Ideas Bulletin, May, 2000
Question: I would like to start an internet business but my husband told me I can't spend any more money on business opportunities. Is there any way to start a business on the internet with a budget of $0?
Answer: Yes and no.
Let's start with the no. I'd never recommend trying to start an ORIGINAL business (one that you conceive and develop yourself) from a free website with a free email account.
Why not? Not only do those vendors plaster your site or email account with THEIR advertisements and banners (that's how they can offer it free to you), you won't instill confidence in a customer base if you're too cheap to spring for a web host, domain name, and email account.
Oh, you may get a few customers, but you'll miss a lot of business from people who will assume you're not serious and/or a "fly-by-night" operation. Wait until you can afford a proper setup before starting an original business.
Okay, so what do you do until you can afford an original business?
Here are a couple of steps to take:
1. Sign up for one of the pay-for-surfing programs. You install a viewbar on your computer, and they track your surfing habits for their advertising customers. You can turn the viewbar off and on whenever you like, but you're only paid for the time when the viewbar is visible.
You won't make a lot of money, but if you surf 10+ hours a week, you'll probably make enough to pay for your monthly ISP bill. You can then use that money towards setting up a website.
2. Open your own Vstore. They provide the website, goods, purchasing, fulfillment, and customer service-all for free; you decide what you want to sell and do all the marketing.
It's a good way to "get your feet wet" in the world of online marketing, and will dramatically reduce your learning curve once you get your original business up and running.
(P.S. Some people have opened 5 or 6 Vstores with different themes; some experienced e-tailers have opened and promote a Vstore in ADDITION to their regular store, as a nifty little side business. Here's mine, Gaelic Gifts, http://lotsofgaelicgifts.vstoregifts.com/)
Click here to go to www.Vstore.com.
3. Marketing. Here comes the tricky part. If you don't have a strong marketing background, you're going to have to roll up your selves and do some work, otherwise no one will come to your Vstore and you won't make any money.
First, hit your local library and check out some books about marketing. Secondly, visit these sites, bookmark them, and sign up for their free newsletters:
As soon as you can afford it, buy RightOn the Money, by Patrick Anderson and Michael Henderson. Using Vstore.com, they offer the following challenge: "Drop Me Off In The Middle Of The Net, With Nothing But Dial-Up Access, And I Can Make Money In 5 Hours!" Get it for your bookshelf right now! www.niftybusinessideas.com/RightOn.
4. Once you have some experience and a little money, here are some excellent resources to get you off to a fast start:
As you can see, starting a business from $0 IS possible -- it just takes a little hard work and imagination. Good luck!
If you have a business startup or expansion question you'd like to have answered in an upcoming issue, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana Pemberton-Sikes is the author of "10 Simple Ways To Boost Your Income," which features dozens of simple ways to start or expand a business using your EXISTING knowledge, skills, and interests. To learn more, visit her website at www.niftybusinessideas.com.
Copyright © 2000 by Diana Pemberton-Sikes
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