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The quintessential American dream of starting a business may be more attainable than you think. While business competition is as tight as ever, technology makes it increasingly easy to test the waters of entrepreneurship without wading in over your head.
It takes a combination of hard work, innovative thinking and a touch of luck for any venture to get off the ground. But the ability to work from anywhere with a Internet connection by utilizing out-of-the-box web solutions, do-it-all software platforms and free online marketing tools is empowering an increasing number of driven individuals to cultivate startup ventures in their spare time.
So if you’re ready to make your entrepreneurial dream come true, consider these five time-saving tools for launching a new business on a dime.
1. All-in-one web presence
E-commerce has become the great equalizer for small and independent businesses. While it can cost thousands of dollars to design and build a custom website — not to mention the added expenses of maintenance and administration — there are options available that deliver a nearly identical product at a fraction of the cost.
A comprehensive online store platform such as Bigcommerce presents an inexpensive, scalable solution with no hidden costs, full e-commerce capabilities and layers of user support. With Bigcommerce, a moonlighting entrepreneur can effectively and efficiently create their own website. With everything from inclusive hosting and security, analytics and conversion tools, plus extendible app integrations, you can have a professional-looking, fully-functional website up and running in hours.
2. Convenient connectivity
While the contemporary startup venture no longer requires a physical storefront, it is typically necessary to establish an official business contact and communications hub from which to operate. Rather than take on the expense of a dedicated suite of small business communications tools, the budget-conscious entrepreneur working out of a home office or on-the-go can find a bounty of online solutions that represent cutting-edge capabilities for cheap or free.
For web and mobile connectivity, FreedomPop is an intriguing alternative to the major nationwide providers by eliminating costs relating to Internet access and mobile talk, text, and data. With the initial purchase of a device, such as their 4G mobile hotspot for $99, you get 100% free wireless high-speed Internet and mobile broadband ISP on a monthly basis.
Once you are plugged into the web without the burden of heavy recurring fees, you are able to utilize the host of complimentary tools available on your laptop or mobile device for everything from a dedicated business phone number from Google Voice (with features including a personalized voicemail box, call screening and SMS), to email, to an app such as Skype for free video conferencing, international calling, and real-time messaging.
3. Collaboration capabilities
While the ability to work from anywhere is an enabling factor for launching a startup on the side, many still face the hurdle of bridging the gap to work with collaborators on projects and interface with customers. Moonlighting entrepreneurs often lack the time and resources to schedule face-to-face meetings or travel to appointments, making it necessary to seek cutting-edge collaboration technology for coordinating a remote workforce, enabling the genuine human interaction that is central to start-up creativity and more.
Collaboration tech is one of the hottest trends for businesses of all sizes because it speaks to how the modern world increasingly does business remotely. From comprehensive project management software like Asana, which allows you to assign projects and manage workflow, to video conferencing like Google Hangouts that makes it feel like you have your entire team right there with you, there are numerous free and inexpensive tools available for small teams. By choosing what you require most, such as a CRM platform to ensure your mobile sales force is optimized for efficiency, your small venture can achieve the type of collaboration that make big things possible.
4. Support staff
While you may be working independently out of a personal or home office to get your moonlighting startup moving, few (if any) entrepreneurs make it all the way to the top strictly on their own. It takes a supportive colleagues, skilled collaborators and, in many cases, physical infrastructure to tackle the complex challenges a small business will face as revenue streams develop.
Resourcefulness is a hallmark of a promising startup organization. A true entrepreneur is ready to do whatever it takes to make things happen, yet at the same time searches for ways to work smarter rather than harder. That may mean finding an online source of free and accurate legal advice or utilizing a cloud-based platform such as Freshbooks for handling accounting, invoices and tax documentation. But did you know can outsource staff as well? By hiring freelance staff ranging from logo designers to personal assistants through a name-your-price source like oDesk, an independent business can keep the payroll down while building up its prospects.
5. Smarter marketing
By structuring a lean moonlighting start-up with minimal overhead, you buy yourself the time to let your business grow incrementally. But the pressure to generate revenues is typically an inescapable reality. While costly paid advertising such as print, television and radio can generate solid early returns, a balanced and measured multi-channel online marketing approach will ultimately deliver more efficient, sustainable results.
From laying a solid SEO foundation for natural search engine traffic to social media for brand awareness and targeted promotions, there are numerous strategies you can use in conjunction with your e-commerce platform that provide professional insights and results. By utilizing a broad multi-channel approach that includes cost-effective email and content marketing strategies to drive engagement, generate referrals and maximize conversions alongside cost-efficient paid campaigns, you can expand your reach and consumer base without draining your budget on short-lived traditional advertising.
Not everyone has what it takes to be successful in business. However the modern age provides the ability for just about anyone to give it a try. By utilizing online tools and tech solutions for launching an e-commerce website and Internet marketing campaign, creating a business communications hub and tapping into the talent and support needed to grow your organization, you can turn your start-up vision into a reality in your spare time on a strict budget. What additional tips or resources can you suggest to someone launching a startup business?
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