One of the first things you must understand when you start a home-based business is that you don’t have to pay a lot of money to become a strong, viable and established home-based business. There was a time when home-based business owners went out of their way to make their company appear to be a large corporation. People rented executive suites and conference rooms to meet with clients just to give the appearance of “corporate.” Times have changed and whereas ten years ago, a home-based business may have had negative connotations associated with it, not any more – it’s a new day! Nowadays, when you tell people “I’m a home-based business owner selling ….” people stop and take notice.
Technology has advanced to the point that you can become a millionaire out of the comfort of your home. And what’s really great is that many of the tools you will need to start your home-based business owner are free. Of course, as your business grows, you will incur expenses – large and small but for now just to get started, I have included some solid tools and resources you can use for little or no money.
1. Don’t spend money incorporating or forming an LLC (Limited Liability Company). Just start as a sole proprietor and move forward. Don’t allow not having the money to “form” your business legally stop you from starting. You can incorporate or form an LLC after you starting making money. The exception to this is if your business is the type where you will immediately incur liability, i.e. office or house cleaning service.
2. In any event, you can get free legal advice from a retired lawyer and free financial advice from a retired CPA through http://www.Score.org.
3. You can find legal (and any other kind) forms you need for free at Docstop.com or Scribd.com.
4. If you decide at the beginning to give your business legal structure, by all means take advantage of a low cost option such as Legalzoom.com.
Getting a Website
5. Do not pay a lot of money for a domain name. There are still many great domain names available if your first choice is taken, get creative and come up with a domain name that will embody what your business purpose is. You can see if the domain you want is available and buy your domain for less than $15 at Godaddy.com.
6. Believe it or not, there is a company that will allow you to build 2 FREE websites without purchasing an upgrade. This company has a funny name – Weebly.com but who cares what the name is. Of course, there are a few features that are only available with an upgrade but I can tell you this, I built the a website for the book I wrote and it was one of Weebly’s free website. You can check it out here: http://www.lovelessonslearned.com.
7. If you simply cannot afford a domain name at this time, by all means don’t let this stop you from getting a website. Until your finances improve, you can get a free website and not pay for a domain name at Weebly.com, Blinkweb.com or Webs.com. These free website vendors also make it easy for you to upgrade your account so that you can purchase a domain name and other things to enhance your website when you are ready to do so.
8. After you have your website up and running, you need to start marketing your website. You have to help people who need or want what you are selling find your website. To do this, you must submit your website to directories and search engines. Many entrepreneurs pay a lot of money to have this done; corporations pay a lot of money to have this done. You don’t have a lot of money so you will have to do this yourself. Believe me – this works. I know because I’ve spent countless nights and wee hours of the morning submitting my business websites to search engines and directories. Quickregister.net will allow you (for free) to: submit your website to 300 major search engines, submit your article to numerous article directories and will allow you to submit your website to high traffic social bookmarking websites. CAUTION: you have to submit individually by hand and this is tedious but worth it. Break this task up into several days if you have to but do it. It will drive traffic to your website!
Quickregister.net also offers some very important free tools such as a tool which allows you to analyze your competitor’s website ranking in search engines, check your keyword density. Research has proven that having the right keywords on your website will bring you targeted traffic – people looking to buy what you are selling.
9. Educate yourself Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by visiting Webconfs.com. By placing the right keywords in the content of your website, you greatly increase the chance that the people you are looking to sell to will find you. This is very important and not hard to learn; you’ll know what you need to know in 15 minutes.
Establishing Your Brand
10. One of the first things you should do after you have established your website is to get business cards and you should hand them out every where you go. You can get 250 free business cards from VistaPrint. Once you buy from VistaPrint, you will receive frequent emails of sales in which you can buy all kinds of marketing materials (postcards, car magnets, etc.) at low and or no cost (except for shipping which is cheap too).
11. FreeLogoServices.com will allow you to create a free logo and even try it out on your website and marketing materials. The resolution is low so you will eventually want to purchase the higher resolution logo.
12. You don’t need the expense and hassle of trying to acquire a merchant account to accept credit card and check payments on your website. Let the big boy in the field, Paypal, accept payments for you. E-junkie is another great option and provides a shopping cart and buy now buttons to let you sell downloads and tangible goods on your website or anywhere else.
13. One of the absolute best and free ways to market your business is to start writing articles and placing your articles in article directories. The top dogs in this area are and Ezinearticles.com. Why write articles? Two reasons; one, you will drive traffic to your website because you will include your website address in your resource box at the bottom of your article which tells people your name and what you are selling. The second reason is by writing articles you are establishing yourself as an expert.
14. The number one way to generate income even while you are sleeping is to create information products and you should create them in as many forms as possible. You should create e-books, CDs, MP3 downloads and videos which educate your target market.
Audio can help you generate money in two ways:
First, research has proven that when you have an audio greeting on your website, people will hang around longer on your website, they will sign up for your newsletter and eventually will become a customer a lot sooner because they feel as if they have connected with an actual person; audio allows your personality and sincerity to shine through.
Second, you can create information products such as CDs and MP3s and you can also generate podcasts, which if you keep adding them and keep them fresh, people will have something to look forward to and will return to your website.
To create audio (CDs, MP3s) you can use Audacity, a free audio recorder and editor. All you need is a computer microphone which you can purchase from Wal-Mart or Target for $10. Audacity is very easy to use and the instructions are very easy to understand. You can video to greet website visitors or to educate your target market. Eyejot is free and you can use it to post a video to your website or to send video emails.
Jing can be used to take screen shots and record video of your computer screen which can be used in educational videos for your target market. Did I mention that it’s free? Get Jing here: http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html.