Of course, it depends on what you define as affordable. Some will want as much near to free as possible while others don’t mind spending what they feel they need to spend to achieve their goals. My view is that they’re both mistaken when starting their online business. It isn’t a question of having and using all the tools and resources that seem to be needed. You can scale up on those later on, once you’ve decided your idea or products work in your niche and you have the right business structure for you and its success.
At any point in time, the biggest and most important resource in your business is you. That is, your ideas, knowledge, creativity and strategic actions. Without those, unique or original to yourself, you don’t have as powerful a business as you could.
Be focused on how you use the resources within you, so it is more than just about spending money. You’re also spending time and energy. You want those to be affordable too. Constant fire fighting, trying to overcome problems that keep popping up, wastes your energy. You lose focus. Time begins to slip away so that actions can become uncontrollable, besides losing their strategic impact. You probably want to start an online business to have more freedom and independence. It’s difficult to have those if you’re overwhelmed by the demands of the business. Initially, at least, the affording of your time and energy is more important.
Working on your business is better than working in it, where it becomes your new boss.
Keeping that context in mind, here are some suggestions for success from the start.
Keeping it simple
Even as you scale up, keep each stage simple for that stage you’re at, keeping everything as simple, but most effective and productive, as possible. That will mean trying things out, tracking and testing until you reach a sweet spot for whatever process and system you’re dealing with. Therefore, when you start the business, keep everything lean and simple until you see what works best. You don’t need masses of resources which only create more complications, especially if they don’t work as they should or promised.
You need 3 basic things only, at first. One is reliable hosting. Most hosts now have cheap starter packages of a few dollars a month. You can also use their email, though Gmail, of course, is free. Using a separate email system means if the host goes down or has a problem, you still have your own email for contacts, separate from your autoresponder. Do your research to find a host you can depend on.
Second, you need a domain name for your website. Again, buy it separately from your hosting, no matter how cheap they’re offer is. NameCheap, for example, I’ve found, is a reliable company to get a domain name.
Third, buy into a good autoresponder so you can build your list and communicate with them automatically, and with broadcast emails when needed. Aweber and GetResponse have always had their supporters, though there are lots of other providers around, including free ones, as long as your list is below a certain number. It’s worth paying for an autoresponder straight away because getting targeted subscribers is one of your key tasks at first and on-going.
With tools alone you can build your list, sell products and deliver them.
Simplifying your actions
This is connected to time management, which is itself a result of your strategy. You devise your strategy, your pattern and systems of actions, to get you to your business goals. You’re probably working by yourself, so you can only do so much in one day, week, and month. You have to prioritize which actions, over what time period, get you through the strategy. If the strategy is too complicated, or too vague (which is more usual), you either waste time doing too many less important things. If it’s too vague it’s very easy to be distracted into inessential activities – while thinking that they are important.
Again, to begin, have simple systems you track and test for: getting targeted leads, converting them to subscribers, and converting them to customers. Once you can do that in the simplest way, you can start to scale to whatever the next level is for you. This takes preparation which most people don’t want to do, which gives you an advantage. It also saves you energy that you can spend on other things.