How I Started My Online Business For Less Than $100 (and how you can too!)

June 23, 2016

So now that you are here you must be wondering “can I really start a business for less than $100?” and the answer is yes you absolutely can! Now I’m not telling you its  going to be easy and it’s definitely not going to be quick, but it is doable.

A Little Backstory:

About 5 years ago I was browsing Facebook when I came across a post from a girl I went to high school with. She was selling the most amazing headbands at a local boutique and I thought to myself, hey I’m crafty I bet I can do something like that too (check out her beautiful bracelet business and adorably famous daughters @ALILBITFANCY on Instagram).  I grabbed a few supplies from Michael’s and started what I thought was the coolest business and was going to make tons of money (boy was that a joke! and a complete fail). As an entrepreneurial person by nature (think selling lemonade in your front yard and beaded keychains to neighbors), I ended up learning a few things along the way that helped me grow my handmade business into what it is today, a successful online boutique. Fast forward five years and I now have moved Simply 1 Love from Etsy to my own website where I sell my handmade items and boutique clothing for mamas and their children.

  1. Where Do I Start?

Well first you need to come up with your amazing business idea. Think of something you love doing that can potentially be profitable. For me I love making things. First it was hot glued hair accessories, then countless ventures until I found my niche.  I now sew kimonos and accessories. Maybe you love creating graphics for businesses or printable lists for busy moms. Maybe you are passionate about skincare and create your own line of scrubs (you can find my favorite shop @TAHOECHICSCRUBS on Instagram). Whatever you decide, make sure you absolutely love it and are ready to eat, sleep and breathe your new venture for years to come.

2. Come Up With Your Unique Business Name

Next, you’ll want to come up with your new businesses name (make sure to google it first to make sure it’s not already taken, please don’t get into any legal trouble! haha). It can be anything from your name to something that inspires you. The name of my first failed business idea is embarrassing to say the least, Polka Dots and Cheetah Spots (A Mommy & Me Bowtique). First of all how hard is that to remember? Answer: VERY! You want to make the name of your business easy for others to remember. and to spell. Take Simply 1 Love for example, it’s short sweet and to the point. Even Tory Burch or Michael Kors are easy to remember, spell and are undeniably recognizable brands. You also want to make sure your new business name is not taken on social media channels, this way you can keep it consistent across the board. Sadly, my business name was taken on twitter and I had to go with @shopsimply1love. Lastly, you will want to register your new name with your city or county’s local business division. Just a simple search on google will do. Takeaway? Short, sweet and easy to remember and spell.

3. Get a Website:

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Nowadays with the internet at your fingertips it’s easier than ever to start an online business. You have so many resources right in front of you, it makes the trial and error process virtually non existent. That being said, the amount of articles trying to persuade to choose one platform over another can be overwhelming. From my experience I have found Etsy to be the easiest and most user-friendly to navigate. It is also the cheapest to get started. Listing fees run about $0.20 per listing and the best part about it is it already has its own built in customer base (almost like Ebay for crafters, yes the comparison is terrible!) If you are interested in getting started with Etsy they have offered my readers 40 free listings with this link HERE (so in theory you can make money without spending any).

If you are looking for your own website with a little more creative liberty I would suggest Shopify. They offer many different plans (with the cheapest starting at $29.99 per month) I personally use this Shopify plan for my website and I love it! It has given me what I need without much hassle and is so user-friendly (even my customers agree on their end!). I love how much you get for such a small price. Although Shopify is just one of many platforms, I have also heard of Bigcartel and many others. Do your research and find out which one suits your business the best.

4. Start Making Product, List It & Keep Going:

Now this seems like a no brainer, but you would be surprised at how difficult this is to accomplish. It takes time and dedication and most importantly hard work. If you work full time and are starting this venture during nights and weekends it may be even harder. Let me tell you it does get easier, but you need to stick with it. I can tell you from experience I would have not take long breaks while trying to grow a business. I am finally to a point that I can be proud of, but the road has been a rocky one. I gave up a few times, focused on work and other things and just finally got back into it almost a year ago after working in the fashion industry. Keep pushing yourself to work on your business a little bit everyday. Making product is the most fun part of this venture so enjoy it! Trust me the moment you make your first sale all of the sleepless nights will be worth it.

This will be the majority of your $100 budget. Buy all the supplies you need and make sure they last. I remember I bought my first run of supplies at Michaels and Beverly’s craft stores. They are overpriced yes, but will be a staple in the first few months of business (if you are in the handmade market of course) . You don’t need anything fancy, just basic tools will work especially if you are on a tight budget.

5. Shamelessly Share Your New Business With Anyone Who Will Listen:

This one cane be taken the wrong way, but trust me it will be to your advantage! When I first started selling my designs I told everyone and I mean EVERYONE! Posting to Facebook and sharing with your friends can help you more than you know. At the beginning of any business you rely mostly on word of mouth. I remember giving away free product to friends and family in exchange of their opinions. From there they tell their friends, family and so on (you get the picture). This is the cheapest and easiest way to advertise. Also sign up for all social media channels even if you don’t think you’ll use them. I have a Facebook page, Twitter profile, Pinterest pageInstagram profile & even a Youtube channel. It’s all free and an easy way to drive people to your shop, store or website.

6. Lastly…

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Have fun! This is something you want to do for the rest of your life or a long time I am guessing. You’ll want to make a living and have fun while doing it. Don’t stress yourself out by doing so! Also don’t quit your day job just yet. Like I said in the beginning its going to take time and patience (to be honest I haven’t gotten to the point I can either, so don’t feel bad). You will get there one day so in the meantime have a blast and sell product that makes you happy.

Hope this helps! Let me know what business you’ve started or would like to start in the comments below. I love checking out new small shops and supporting them.

XO, Mrs. Rodriguez

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