The costs associated with starting a business vary greatly depending on the industry, location, and several other factors. The U.S. Small Business Administration, citing a Kauffman Foundation study, put average startup costs at $30,000 for 2009. A franchise typically costs between $50,000 and $200,000. But contemporary technology allows anyone with the will and a good idea to get their business off the ground for a few hundred bucks.
Cloud-based services have rapidly transformed the world of business. E-commerce accounted for 6.4 percent of total U.S. retail sales in Q2 2014, up from 2 percent a decade earlier, according to Commerce Department data. Meanwhile a Safe Home Products, Inc. survey in December found that 89 percent of consumers prefer shopping online over brick-and-mortar stores.
It’s both easy and smart to open a business solely with cloud services. Here are five simple steps to make your dream a reality:
Keep in mind your domain name doesn’t necessarily have to be your company name. The most important factor is selecting something that relates to what your company is and what it sells. For instance, if your Washington-based company is called Judy’s Bakery, a domain like SeattleSweets.net (which is actually available) is simple to remember and gives customers location and product information.
Namecheap is probably the best registrar for the money. You get free WhoisGuard protection for a year and have the option to purchase a single-box email account for less than $3. GoDaddy is the most popular registrar, despite prolonged outages and taking down thousands of customers’ blogs last summer. Gandi, DreamHost and Hover are three more options to consider.
The domain is the building that houses your business. Now you need to buy a piece of online property to place the structure. That is what the web host provides.
Some argue that using the same company for domain registration and hosting is a security risk. But it’s far more convenient to have everything under the same roof. Just make certain to use passwords with both capital and small letters, along with symbols to make it as difficult on hackers as possible. Change your cPanel and content management platform passwords frequently.
When it comes to confidential company documents, external drives and laptops are the last place you want to store them. Both could be lost, stolen, or compromised at any time and put your business in a world of hurt.
Make certain to use a cloud storage provider such as Mozy. This type of storage solution offers scalability, encryption, and access by multiple users from any connected device. Enterprise solutions act as virtual offices so you can communicate with employees and update documents in real-time for all to see.
All companies need effective marketing plans to sustain and grow. Social networks can serve this purpose and several others for your business.
Pinterest is perfect for businesses that sell several individual products. Your “pins” can act as virtual store shelves, complete with product descriptions and links to your website so customers can place orders. Facebook is your advertising and customer service platform. Use (and pay for) the boost post feature to reach more users.
Always respond to both good and bad comments left by followers. This shows you actually pay attention and care about their needs and wants.
Everything is in place. Now all you need is a way to collect your money. Paypal merchant services have no initial costs and low per-transaction fees. Intuit Quickbooks has more features, but also more fees. Google Wallet is also an option.
The only physical hardware a small business owners truly needs in 2015 is a laptop or tablet to administer their company. Everything else can be done in the cloud.