Testing business ideas has NEVER been cheaper than it is right now. The entry cost can be as low as a few hundred dollars into any market. Sometimes less.
The general idea is to test your business idea in some small way with a small subset of people from the target market you’ve identified. Generally for internet businesses this is extremely cheap to do with domain and hosting from as low as $6.95 a month. You can secure hosting like this for under $100 a year. This gives you a global reach for bugger all cash.
Website templates and content management systems are free. Try out WordPress.org or Joomla! for anything from basic professional websites and blogs all the way up to full e-commerce solutions. Cost is $0 and a bit of your time learning how these things work (something I’m hoping to help with in the future).
So we’ve established that we can setup a .com domain with reliable hosting and a credible professional looking website for less than $100 for a whole year. Now you need to do some testing.
Adwords is my favourite way to test, some people use an equivalent PPC system or other paid means of generating traffic. For the testing phase, this is perfect and might only set you back another $100 tops for a week or two of advertising costs and market testing to see if you’ve got a viable idea.
So the big problem is that people don’t want to fork out ANYTHING! Not one cent. That’s a real shame, because it really is worth it if you’re totally committed to making something work.
Because of this “hurdle” of a couple of hundred dollars I’ve devise a couple of strategies that have worked for me over the last few years that allowed me to put an extra $1000 or so back in my pocket as “play money” for my internet money making dreams.
Pocket Your Shrapnel
The first strategy is kind of lame and stupidly obvious. Sorry about that. I’ll probably get flamed for this, but whatever, I can tell you first hand that it works.
Whenever I’m out and I buy a drink, pay for a meal, or rent a movie, I pocket the small change instead of putting it back in my wallet. I’ve easily saved around $50 a month doing this practise for the last two years. I’m pretty consistent, and to stop me from spending the money again, I have a few safe spots to chuck the change to get it out of my red hot little pocket.
Stuffing the spare change from your pocket into your bag or some other safe keeping spot until you get back home is a good idea. Once I’m home I have a jar which I empty every 6-12 months (or whenever it’s a large enough sum that I’m uncomfortable keeping in my house) into my bank account. Banks usually have these awesome coin counting machines which make it a breeze, tip your coins in, and take the receipt to the cashier. My last deposit was well over $550. That was just shy of a year’s worth of coins.
Look Out For Bargain Specials
I regularly scout Big W, Kmart and Target for insane discounted specials that I think I could sell online. Installing price check barcode scanners in their aisles was probably their biggest mistake. I recently picked up 20 packs of tealight candles that were incorrectly marked 60 cents each down from over $12 each. 9/10 the troll at the checkout doesn’t care what they are scanning! I’ll sell them on Ebay for a tidy profit.
Some people have access to promotional gear. If you know someone in sales ask them for left over promo gear next time they have a big sale. I picked up 6 perfume packs from one of my old work places (a phone shop) that were going to sit in their stock room gathering dust after a mother’s day promotion. They were Elizabeth Arden promo packs with 4 little perfumes. I used my Sales Copy skills (of which I admit is very little) to whip up a quick ad on Ebay. I used the same ad over an over to sell them off until I’d sold them all. I made nearly 100% profit on these and netted a cool $200~ in about 3 weeks just before Christmas.
Sell any other crap you haven’t used in over 12 months
Cordless drills, barbeque sets, grilled sandwich makers, whatever. You’ll feel a lot better getting all this clutter out of your house, and you can do it in less than a week. Sell it online, or take it to the pawn shop. Bang, instant cash.
Take up a second job
Deliver some pamphlets, wait tables, deliver pizzas, whatever you need to do that will land you an extra hundred a week. Be sure that it doesn’t over take all your spare time. You don’t need another “job”.
This is probably my least favourite method of getting quick cash. But if you really have to (and you simply can’t make any of the other methods work for you), hit up family or friends for a couple of hundred to get you going. The problem here is you have to pay it back, and when money is involved things can often turn ugly.
The aim is to supplement your normal budgeted income for a short period of time in order to get started. Don’t take a job if you need to commit to a certain period of working. You want something you can stop doing in an instant. As soon as you start making some (any!) money online, drop it and concentrate your extra efforts on that.