Many people think that starting a company requires a large amount of money and investment. That’s not necessarily true. Maybe if you’re starting a hardware products or biotech company, you’ll probably need a lot of capital. But for most startups, what you need is not money, but a good problem or opportunity, a skill set, some drive, and a work ethic. Many companies have grown from very modest beginnings to great success.
For example, consider these two companies based in San Diego, California. Pura Vida (Fashion Bracelets) started with just $400, as List bought his bracelets in Costa Rica and sold them to friends in Southern California to fund a surfing trip. Two years ago, it sold for more than $100 million. Blenders Eyewear started on college campuses to test whether students wanted to buy inexpensive, well-designed sunglasses for under $1,000. They were acquired by an Italian eyewear company in 2019 for $90 million.
What can help entrepreneurs look “professional” and actually get their businesses up and running are the amazingly cheap but powerful tools available today. Online services and tools like $99 Designs and Fivrr may be just what you need to design your brand or logo. Simply define your future company culture, its purpose, mission, and values, and an online designer should be able to deliver something close to that at a fraction of the agency cost.
Then, use the following online tools and services to get your company up and running for perhaps less than $300 per month. Here is an overview of some of the key tools and services you may need.
Domain registration. You need a name and a web presence. Whether you use GoDaddy or Domain.com, both are domain name registrars, or companies that manage domain name reservations. You can use one of these companies to search for a name you like, see if it’s available, and then register your domain name. cost? It’s less than $20 a year.
From simple websites to Shopify websites. If you need a simple website of 10 pages or less, you may want to use Weebly or Wix to create a simple and professional website. It’s often less than $10 a month, or even free. Or, if you sell online, choose an e-commerce tool from an Amazon-like website like Shopify or Big Commerce. The starting cost is about $40 per month.
Marketing and data analysis tools. Use free Google Analytics to measure data related to traffic to your website and activity on your site. You should use a product like Hootsuite, which uses simple tools to manage your social media marketing and has plans starting at $99 per month.
Email tools and services. Once you have customers, you need to communicate with them for several reasons. Retarget prospects, then customers, and perhaps loyal customers for additional product or service sales. Products like Mail Chimp and Constant Contact all cost between $13 and $40 per month and are fully featured and make it easy to create engaging and useful email campaigns.
Payment procedure. If you sell products or services outside of your website, you need a payment processor that can collect payments from your customers, usually via credit card or some type of transaction fee. Providers such as PayPal, Square, and Stripe typically charge less than 3% of the purchase price to process the transaction and deposit the funds into your bank account.
Finance and Billing. If you want to start a service company and bill your clients, you can start using one of the following and keep it simple yet professional. Intuit QuickBooks, FreshBooks, and Bill.com all help you look professional and stay organized. You can start for as little as $15 per month.
The tools and services available to entrepreneurs today are absolutely amazing. A small startup can “look” just as powerful as a billion-billion company, and can use simple but powerful tools to compete. Don’t use money as an excuse to start a company. You might start your next Pura Vida, Power Digital, or Blenders.
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