September 30, 2014

Technology Startups Using Zero Cash

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The price of web hosting, software and other technology has been steadily going down for years. In light of that, could it be possible to build a profitable online business with zero cash outlay?

Jennifer Laycock, the Editor of Search Engine Guide, is going to try to create a profitable online business with no cash at all, over the next 30 days. She writes:

The idea is to try to setup some type of business in my free time and see if I can start to turn a profit in a 30 day period. That shouldn’t be too hard, since I’m also going to limit myself to spending zero cash out of pocket. That means that any sales at all will be profit.

I plan to outline all of the steps that I take over this 30 day period so that readers can find out what worked, what didn’t, and maybe get some ideas to try with their own sites. The point I need to make again is the lack of money involved here. There’s a big difference between what someone can do with cash to pay for hosting, for marketing, for web analysis and so on. I’ll be working without many of those advantages, using only what I can get for free.

The first 3 days of Jennifer’s experiment are fascinating, and quite an instructive business experiment.

She is following tried and true business guidelines needed to run a small business successfully today, including:

  • choosing a narrow niche market, instead of trying to be all things to all people
  • bootstrapping the startup on a minimalist budget, instead of being saddled with a hefty cost structure from the start
  • networking with other small business owners for assistance (asking for — and giving — help in online forums)
  • using viral marketing to keep expenses low or nonexistent (calling on bloggers to help spread the word)
  • learning from her mistakes, and correcting them quickly before they get bigger (realizing she had uploaded images in the wrong format and re-uploading them)

You can find the entire series of Jennifer Laycock’s articles at Search Engine Guide.

3 Comments ▼

Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of TweakYourBiz.com.

3 Reactions

  1. I started my online business with nothing – I did it while in High School and had nothing to start it with. It didn’t look too professional having a free web host with hug banners and popups, but now you can find hosts that just want a small button on the bottom.

  2. Hi Anita,

    great post. I have always been a fan of businesses that makes a lot of sense ( being cash flow positive in a few months), rather than throwing money at something.

    but on the other hand, there are costs you need to factor in — even if you don’t spend a cent, your most valuable resource is actually your time!

    And I wrote about the quote a few days ago in my blog, ” Don’t be too humble. You are not that great yet!” means that there will be very few people who can start a business solely through their talent and reputation alone. The rest of us will have to plug hard, market and invest when we can, and spend money and time for a few months at least before people get to notice what we offer.

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