Article: June Campbell

The Small Business Library

December 2, 1999

Six Ways to Save Money When You're Starting Your Internet Business

"If you can't afford to spend a few dollars a month to buy your own autoresponders, then you shouldn't be in business," said the condescending Internet guru to the newbie.

Lucky for me I didn't talk to him three years ago when I was starting my Internet business on a shoe string budget. If I had, I may not have gone ahead to develop a business that now supports me nicely. To those of you that are starting out with no cash, you CAN get started without spending a lot of money. You will have to work hard and tolerate some inconveniences, but it can be done.

The folks who tell you not to use freebies aren't wrong. In fact, as soon as you get a few bucks in your pocket, immediately invest it back in your business and upgrade these items.
In the meantime ---

  1. Find a free web site with no advertising.
    Many Internet Service Providers, including AOL, include a small web site as part of the package. You're piggybacking, but there'll be no ads. Alternatively, find a friend with a domain name and offer a barter arrangement -- your small web site piggybacking on theirs in exchange for something you can provide. Having your own domain name is best, but this temporary arrangement will get you by.

  2. You don't need a Post Office Box.
    Using your own address on the Web will not only save you money, it'll make a better impression on your customers. I have always used my real address with no repercussions.

  3. Put off buying office equipment until you can afford good quality items.
    You don't want to spend money on something that will be an expensive doorstop. Until you can afford good equipment, do your printing, photocopying, scanning and faxing from office service depots. Better yet, make a barter arrangement with a friend -- use of their equipment when needed in exchange for something you can offer.

  4. Fax through your computer modem as much as possible. Fax from an office service when necessary.

  5. Use the email account that your ISP provided. If this isn't possible, use the email freebies only as a last resort.

  6. If you are starting an Internet business, you can get by without business cards, brochures, business stationery, cell phones, Personal Data Assistants, mobile computers and other such luxuries. Purchase them later when you have some cash built up.

  7. Your telephone company can supply low cost alternatives to second phone lines, fancy telephones and other such luxuries. Ask about Smart Ring and other related services. Often for a few dollars a month, you can arrange to have a second phone number, complete with distinctive ring, that uses just one telephone line, along with a voice messaging service that records incoming messages if the line is busy or unanswered. Check to be sure the phone company approves the use for home business purposes. Mine does.

Last but not least, be very, very cautious of the millions of services and products that people will try to sell you. You can spend a fortune and get nothing to show for it. Wise spending is step to success.

Article by June Campbell
June's writing has appeared in several international print publications. Visit her site for biz articles, a free gift, books at low Canadian prices, online sales of proposal and business plan templates and more.