Starting a brick and mortar business can be cost prohibitive because of high commercial property costs, fees for legal services associated with running a business and insurance. You can, however, save money by starting a small online business and make a full- or part-time income from your home office or anywhere in the world, depending on the products and services you decide to offer. Operating your business exclusively online allows you to complete sales transactions, engage in customer service and manage daily productivity, all from your home computer or smartphone.
Sell products and services you know a lot about. Selling products and services you know well gives you the knowledge base to market your business effectively, and also increases your credibility in the eyes of potential customers. You can buy products to sell from wholesale vendors if you have an adequate amount of start-up capital. If you have a small budget, however, you can still purchase quality vintage products at thrift stores and yard sales for resale, resell products you already own or make a product to sell. You can also sell your services online as a writer, editor, researcher or consultant in your field of expertise.
Apply for a employer identification number (EIN) also known as a tax ID number. Having a separate tax ID for your business allows you to open bank and credit accounts in the company name, rather than your own name, which helps you keep your business and personal finances separate and could prove helpful when you file your taxes. You can apply for an tax ID number online at IRS.gov.
Create a Web presence. Blogs allow you to create an interactive Web presence for free. Fill your blog with information about your business, including photographs, product and service descriptions, and your contact information. Some blog platforms even allow you to include shopping cart links. You can purchase a custom domain name for your blog for as little as $10.
List your products in a sales directory. Open a seller account on websites such as eBay and Etsy if you sell merchandise. Such websites give you access to buyers already looking for the products you sell for an inexpensive listing fee plus a small percentage of the sale.
Market your business to your target market via social networking. Whether you sell merchandise or services, you can use free social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with other small online business owners and potential customers. Create detailed profiles about you and your business in as many social networking forums as you can manage, and connect with everyone you know including friends, family and coworkers. Set goals to make new connections daily and update your social networking accounts as frequently as possible.