Once upon a time, setting up a business meant opening up a shop somewhere where you could be sure that customers would come to see you. You needed to order stock and keep the shop tidy, well-heated or ventilated, and you needed to always be there. All of this meant that starting to sell would be preceded by weeks, even months of extremely diligent work, and with no guarantee of success anyone looking to set up a business would often decide that, on balance, the risk was too big. Now those problems are things of the past, and the potential businessperson can get things up and running very quickly.
The thing about “bricks and mortar” businesses is that they relied a lot on location and the other factors mentioned above. By going electronic, your sales room can be a small study under your stairs and your customers can be anybody. There is plenty of technology available which allows you to process payments electronically from a customer’s credit card or online banking facility. But even if you are not in a position to do this, you can set up a PayPal account and do your selling on eBay. Scarcely any initial outlay for you, and potential for the money to come flowing in with scarcely any delay. And now you can do business in your pajamas at 1.30am. so many of the obstacles to someone hoping to make a way in the business world have been removed, and it is all thanks to the Internet.
There have been people – many people – who have set up a website for their business and sat back expecting it to become lucrative immediately. While the Internet has made business a lot easier for the individual with the intellectual capital to make it happen, there is little scope for making money without investing time and effort. However, compared to setting up a High Street business, the Internet can deliver results for a relatively small outlay on your behalf. An advertising budget makes things easier – no-one would ever deny that – but it is certainly not essential. A bit of time and awareness will also bear results.
The Internet is crawling with forums and message boards. For just about any topic of conversation you can imagine, there will be at least a few message boards on the Internet, each slightly different in the way they look at the subject. Certainly, there will be a message board that discusses things that have a connection with your business. By registering on these forums, you can make your business known to a receptive audience. Many forums have anti-spam measures that prevent you from posting irrelevant content or linking without context, but there are no reasons why you cannot link to your business in the signature box that most allow beneath posts.
Depending on the nature of your business, the possibilities for promotion on the Internet are many and varied, and they make for a real opportunity to drive your business forward, usually at no extra cost to yourself.
Promoting your business is something that will generally be important if you want to bring in customers and make a success of it. There are numerous ways of doing this, some of which are expensive and others which, as a matter of relief to the person looking to get a business up and running quickly and on a budget, are free of charge. Free promotion of a business has its drawbacks compared to when paying for it – it is less direct and will not be as prominent. On the other hand however, there are clear upsides to free advertising. For one, well, it is free, and for another it is really quite simple.
Getting free advertising is something that need only take half an hour – and that is allowing for writing the advertising copy and ensuring that it looks good. There are sites devoted to free advertising – two of the most famous being Gumtree and Craigslist. Both of these sites simply require you to write a short description of your business, prices and some contact details so that interested parties can get details from you and arrange a deal.
These sites make their money by placing advertisements on the site from companies who will pay for exposure in a setting where people are looking to conduct business. You make your money by placing an attractive advertisement that will make potential customers want to know more. After that it is a matter of handling enquiries and arranging deals. All of that for zero outlay, too. Isn’t it amazing?