Starting your own business doesn’t have to be expensive. With a little bit of creativity and a touch of hard work, you can bootstrap the first couple months of entrepreneurship without breaking the bank. The effort you put into your business early on will either make or break your business over the long term. In this article, you’ll learn how to start a business for free, some free marketing ideas, and how to reinvest your profits once you start making sales to avoid spending your own personal money for your business.
So, let’s get started.
How to Start a Business – What You’ll Need
In your first month, you get to benefit from all the free trials. You’ll want to get your first few sales in the first month so that you can continue to sustain the business without investing your own personal money.
- Shopify (Free 30 Day Trial)
- Domain (Free .myshopify.com)
- Oberlo (Free Starter Plan)
- Theme (Free Themes)
- Images (10 Free Stock Image Websites)
- Social Media Accounts Created
- Buffer (Free Individual Plan)
Shopify will host your ecommerce site. It’s like WordPress or Blogger but for ecommerce entrepreneurs. You can start off with a .myshopify.com domain, however, you’ll want to make sure the .com domain is available and within your budget when you’re ready to make the domain purchase. Oberlo is the dropshipping tool you’ll use to find products to sell online. The great thing about using Oberlo is that you don’t need to buy bulk inventory and only pay for goods as customers place orders.
When it comes to themes, Shopify has a collection of free themes you can choose from. You can customize them to make them suit the branding you want to envision. You can choose images from countless royalty-free websites like Pixabay, Unsplash and more. You’re free to use these images for commercial use. Avoid searching Google Images for pictures as you might not have the rights to use those images. Canva is the image tool you can use to change the size of your images to fit within the theme.
Creating social media accounts is always free. You’ll want to choose handles that match your brand name. You can use Buffer’s free plan to schedule 10 posts at a time. This helps automate your business a bit so you have more time to focus on marketing and building up your business.
How to Start a Business – Biggest Mistakes That New Store Owners Make
One of the biggest reasons store owners don’t get sales when they first start their stores is that their store looks unprofessional and untrustworthy.
Many store owners add countless products to their store, create social media accounts and market their business with an empty homepage. Your homepage should have a banner, product collections, and images for each product collection.Without these things, it looks like the site is brand new, which makes customers feel uncomfortable being one of the first shoppers.
You’ll also want to make sure you have all the necessary information on your website. An about us page, a returns page, a terms of service, and a contact us page are just some of the necessary pages you should be adding to your store.
Another big mistake new store owners make is that they spend more time adding products than they do marketing them. You can have a thousand products on your store but without putting your brand out there, it may take some time before anyone finds you. Be active on social media. Reach out to bloggers and publications about promoting your product.
Typos are also very common on new stores. If English isn’t your first language, run your product descriptions and site copy through a spell check to make sure that there are no big spelling errors.
Now let’s dive into marketing.
How to Start a Business – Free Marketing Ideas
When learning how to start a business, free marketing ideas can help you grow your business without spending any money. Here are a few free marketing ideas to get you started:
- Contact Influencers: Contact relevant influencers in your niche. Instead of paying their fee, you can work out an affiliate commission that works well for both of you. For every sale purchased through their link, you’ll need to pay them the agreed upon commission. However, since you only pay them for goods sold, the financial risk is low.
- Build Relationships on Social Media: Make an effort to communicate with people in your niche on social media. Add friendly comments to people’s posts. Don’t pitch your business. The goal is to increase your following. The more effort you put into building a relationship with people the more likely it is that they’ll follow you and possibly buy from you if you have the right product. Post regularly on your social media accounts so that you can build out your audience. The more followers your page has, the more likely people will trust your brand.
- Write Blog Content Daily & Guest Post on Other Blogs: Building out a blog is hard work, but it’s also profitable when you start investing in ads. Right now, the goal is to build out your blog so that your store looks active. You’ll want to create quality content daily. You should also be guest posting on relevant blogs. You can write content about your niche, and ask for a link back to your store. You can also ask if they have any upcoming product-based articles in the pipeline. Avoid paying for including your product in an article, as most top blogs don’t request payment for inclusion. You’ll want to add your blog content to Buffer so that your social media is always fresh with new content.
- Create YouTube Videos: Depending on your niche, YouTube videos can be a great way to build an audience and drive traffic to your website. Makeup tutorials work great for makeup tools. Hair tutorials work well for hair extensions or hair related products. Cooking tutorials work well for kitchen items. Product review videos work well for general stores that sell a little bit of everything. You’ll want to create a value-based video that’s relevant to your niche. Include a link to your website and refer people to your store at the end of the video.
- Contact Abandoned Carts: Abandoned cart rates can be high for a new store since your social media following isn’t high. Once you start running ads, you’ll be able to retarget add to carts which will likely prove profitable for you. Until then, you can contact those who abandon their cart manually via email. Offer them a VIP discount with 10% off. If they don’t make the purchase. Send a second email the next day offering 15% off. Don’t go higher than 15%. Make sure your product prices are high enough to allow you to offer a 15% discount without losing profit.
- Optimize Your Website: You’ll want to optimize your website for conversions and for search engines. You’ll want to optimize your product pages for keywords so that you can begin the process of ranking organically for keywords. You’ll also want to optimize for conversions. You might want to add a couple of product links to your about us page. Install a free trial of a countdown timer on your store to create urgency. Use words like ‘now,’ ‘today’, and ‘limited time’ in your copy to also create urgency. Collect reviews as you start getting orders to help boost conversions. Check your copy for typos and spelling errors. Do some creative writing with your product descriptions. Offer free shipping in the beginning to get your first few sales. Make sure you price your products accordingly. You can add a threshold after your store has grown a bit.
How to Start a Business – Reinvesting Profits
In your first few months, you shouldn’t pocket any of your store’s earnings. You need to think about the long-term growth of your business. By reinvesting your profits back into ads, you’ll be able to scale your business to reach a bigger audience.
If you sell impulse buy products, you’ll likely want to reinvest your profits into Facebook Ads. You’ll want to create a standard ad where you’re promoting your most popular item. Under Shopify Reports, look at the bottom of the Sales section. There you’ll find ‘Sales by product.’ Whichever product has generated the most sales, you’ll likely want to create an ad promoting that product since it’s a proven seller.
You’ll also want to have a Facebook retargeting ad running. You’ll need to install a Facebook pixel on your store. Retargeting ads work best when you retarget add to carts and blog traffic. The return on investment (ROI) tends to be high for these type of ads as your browsers will already be familiar with your brand. Since your store is still new, allocate 20% of your ad budget on retargeting.
In this article, you learned how to start a business using free marketing ideas and how to reinvest your profits back into ads.
Want to learn more?
- How I launched my eCommerce store in less than 30 minutes (with products)
- How To Start A Successful Free Plus Shipping Business
- What Tools Do You Need To Start an Ecommerce Business?
- 10 Business Skills You Need to Start an Online Store
Are you working on launching your first store? Leave a comment with any questions you have about starting a business and free marketing ideas.