How to start an online business with no money?

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So, you have decided to start your own ecommerce web store. You have chosen the right products to sell. How much money do you need to get your business up and running? Can you get start your business with almost no money at all?

Starting at a real small scale is often the correct way to launch your business. Minimize your early cost commitments, and spend money only on things that directly impact your sales growth. Your lack of resources at this early stage and the constraints that they impose can be used at your benefit.

Here is what Clayton Christensen, one of the greatest management gurus of our era, says about the importance of starting real small. From Innovator’s Solution

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… pay careful attention to getting the initial conditions right. The only way that a new venture’s managers can compete against nonconsumption with a single product is to put in place a cost structure that makes such customers and products financially attractive. Minimizing major cost commitments enables a venture to enthusiastically pursue the small orders that are the initial lifeblood of disruptive businesses in their emergent years.

 

Another great proponent of starting real small is Jason Fried and his fellow entrepreneurs at 37signals. Their books, Rework and Getting Real are great reads for any entrepreneur. Here is how Jason conveys the same idea that I have described above –

 Do you really need ten people or will two or three do for now? Do you really need $500,000 or is $50,000 (or $5,000) enough for now?… Do you really need to build a factory or can you hire someone else to manufacture your products?… Great companies start in garages all the time. Yours can too.

Many of the successful ecommerce businesses that I know started at a really small scale. In a garage, with less than 10 products, selling online. If you are planning to start an online retail business, don’t waste a lot of money early on building a fancy website. And don’t waste money accumulating tons of inventory when you don’t even know how well you are going to sell. Instead, embrace your constraints and start real small. Start with a handful of products and use the most economic of all shopping carts to get your minimal website running. Use your relationships to spread the word and get a few early customers. Avoid tying up too much money in your business early on.