The top 5 websites to start your business on a shoe string

The top 5 websites to start your business on a shoe string


A few years ago I was dithering as to whether I should set up my copy writing service, with two young boys added to the mix of daily life, working for myself seemed like the most viable option.

Yet, one of the barriers holding me back was the thought of the great expense in initially setting up a business.

Having taken the plunge, I now look back at my financials in preparation for a visit to my accountant and realise the costs of initial set up was pretty minimal.

In fact, I spent just over $400.

These initial costs accounted to registering my business name for three years, purchasing a domain name,  and setting up a website and email account.

Thanks to these top 5 online services I was able to inexpensively set up the basics so I could work for myself.

Square Space

Now without a doubt a business needs a website .

I was originally with WordPress  but I recently swapped to Square Space.  Both gave me the capacity to spruik my services, keep an updated blog and review the analytics of visitors.

While WordPress I got away for for free, I invested $220 into my Square Space website. Of the two I have got to say that Square Space is definitely my favourite of the two. 

While it probably lacks a lot of the add-on's of WordPress, the simplicity of the platform  and the actual design aspect of it for me far exceed that of WordPress.

The costs were pretty minimal for the improvement in design and output I am experiencing. I am also achieving a lot more enquiries than I originally had from my WordPress site.  Although, I cannot honestly say whether I would have received the same response if I put money into my WordPress site. Overall, my website was also my most expensive outlay. 

WaveApps

WaveApps.com is an online accounting system for small businesses and it s AHHHMAZZZING!

It maintains my accounting records for the business and has totally upped the ante in me presenting a more professional front to my clients - even when preparing invoices in my fave PJs! (In fact one client recently commented on how much she loved my invoices!)

I can set up branded templates, email invoices, record expenditure by storing receipts on file (no more losing those little flimsy paper slips) and it pulls all sorts of reports that keeps my accountant happy.

It even gives you the capacity to accept credit card payments (at a fee of course)!

It's infinitely better than the word and excel accounting system I originally cobbled together.

And oh did I mention it's for free?   Yep, it’s a winner!

CANVA

My husband believes the goal of software should be to make you feel like someone else.   In the case of Canva – it’s a graphic designer.

And oh boy do I feel like one with this website.

While admittedly, my skills won’t be making any graphic designers in the industry quake in their boots, what this - mostly free - graphic design platform is doing is giving me the capability to design the basics.

Basics such as business cards, Facebook post images, social media banners, infographics, letterhead, website buttons, fliers…and the list goes on.

I have designed items for both my own freelance service, a small business and an event I was working for.

It's free to use – and while there are some photos, icons etc you have to pay for - it is has truly simplified the whole design process.   You can use templates – or create your own designs from scratch with a drag and drop capability.

I freakin’ love this website and I reckon you will too.

MailChimp

MailChimp is an email marketing service which by June 2014 it was sending over 10 billion emails a month for its customers.  Boo Yah!

Like most websites it has different level packages and as a small business with a small marketing list mine is for free.

This means – I can effectively maintain engagement with my client lists through an email marketing strategy.  Another upping the ante of a professional front to my clients.

The website is fairly easy to use where I can create custom design emails from a simple drag and drop feature, maintain a variety of different lists, and monitor various campaigns.

It even provides me with the analytics of who did and didn’t open my emails and any areas in the emails that  were clicked

This website is definitely a cracker and such a valuable business marketing tool.

Social media

Cudos also really needs to go to the free social media networking services  that can give small businesses another level of online exposure.

Professionally I have a Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter account – but there are plenty of other options out there that might suit others better.

All three give me an opportunity to share my knowledge through news updates, connect in with networking groups and both engage with new and existing clients.

Of course, there are levels that you can pay for for a wider level of exposure (yes Facebook particularly looking at you) – but again they are all an impressive service that anyone can access for free.

BUT THERE IS A DRAWBACK

Of course, starting up on a shoestring means you are doing a lot of the initial set up yourself.

Which obviously takes a lot of time.

However, I feel that the benefit here was being able to create a base that now allows me to concentrate on building up my business.

Down the track I will start to looking at investing in the paid online services to upgrade or even outsource to other small businesses.

In the meantime, I am pretty proud of creating what I have myself.

So if you are dithering about starting up because of the money – I urge you to get out there and start taking advantage of the digital world you live in.

(And if you have any other similar services that helped you set up your business I would love to hear it!)

Feature Image credit: Chris Adamus