Earlier on Alltopstartups, Thomas pointed out some wonderful tips for business owners going into 2014 such as go mobile, take the social media route, and depend on content marketing. All of that is only possible after you get into business.
If you are like most entrepreneur hopefuls, starting your business is usually the hardest thing to do. What do you do if you are not geeky or code-obsessed? What if you non-tech-savvy? What can you do if you don’t (or can’t) marshal enough resources to research, design, and launch your own products?
You can still start a business without money and build a business without a product. Products are only one part of the entrepreneurial eco-system. Here’s how you can start a business with nothing but yourself. All you need is “you”, a deep sense of commitment, and willing to go at it.
There are plenty of stories doing the rounds where entrepreneurs often start with nothing but an idea and passion to see them through. Anything else such as capital, resources, funding, and people are all secondary in importance.
Here are a few broad ideas for you to start your business even if you had no product:
–Services are profitable
You will be forgiven to drift away with the rush of developing products for niche audiences. After all, products are scalable and they provide leverage for entrepreneurs. It’s, however, just half the story. Service businesses are incredibly easy to start (but not so easy to run, just like any business).
Take a good look at Nicole Fallon’s 14 best service businesses to start or Guen Sublette’s huge list of 105 businesses to start, and you’ll see that it’s easy to pick a service in line with your passion and expertise.
Services come with high profit margins and can allow you to get out of price wars and limited profitability. Although hard to scale up and systematize, service businesses are the easiest to start.
You can start a service business with absolutely no investment at first.
The only way to scale up a service business is to hire good talent and train them continuously.
You should also focus on streamlining operations, building systems, and creating processes almost as if you were franchising your business.
–Create a digital product
Despite the possibility of starting a service-based business, the lure of products is unmistakeable. Products allow for scalability, mass production, and systematic business processes.
But whoever said that products only mean those tangible things we hold in our hands? You could create digital products such as software, web-based apps, mobile apps, and eBooks, kindle books, etc. You could also package your knowledge, skills, and expertise into online courses. Create podcasts, videos, and even run half-day or full-day workshops locally or globally.
Launch a completely digital info-product.
Create a mobile app, special apps for Mac users or Windows users (for use on desktops and laptops), or web-based software with a recurring/one-time subscription fee.
Launch your own courses or tutorials.
Create a membership site
–Sell other people’s products
There are pathways available for selling others’ products. Get into affiliate marketing or signup with reseller programs with a few companies operating in your domain of interest to start selling their products or services to make money.
If you’d like to sell physical products, you have eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and plenty of other online marketplaces where you can sell others’ products for a margin of profit.
Alternatively, you could approach small businesses that haven’t even thought about affiliate marketing yet (local businesses anyone?) and offer to sell their products for them. Since you know way more about online marketing, ecommerce, and technology, you’ll be able to do this easily and build a stream of income selling others’ products.
–Make money with online advertising
You’ll make money from publishing, and the Internet has made it more possible now than ever. For the first time in history, almost anyone can be a publisher. Publishers lead with content, create authoritative opinions, and benefit from subscriber-base of readers, visiting traffic, or a hybrid combination of any of those parameters that matter for advertisers.
Online advertising, by itself, is an umbrella term for plenty of other little things within. Here are some takeaway ideas for online advertising alone:
Launch a blog, work to make it popular, and sell advertising space on your own blog.
Offer to find advertisers for other popular blogs and get a cut for every successful deal you see through.
Pick up businesses anywhere in the world (even local will do) and offer to provide advertising services for them. Get paid for your efforts, or on per lead or per customer basis.
–Form a joint venture with someone who has a product
Successful people love those who reach out, hustle, take action, and those who make all out attempts to make something happen. No one likes the lazy guy, so don’t be that guy.
Partnership or forming joint ventures with someone who already has a product to sell is an easy and still effective way to get into business. Focus on a niche, find some stalwarts who’ve launched products already, and get into negotiations with them. Create a joint venture and collaborate to market, operate, and run the business together.
It’s not just individuals who ride on strong elephants. You’ll see this in action everywhere in the world. Companies get into joint ventures when entering new countries or territories. Some other businesses form strategic partnerships to grow. See how Moz signs up with partners. Each of those partners get immense credibility and everyone benefits in the process.
Xero.com — a New Zealand-based accounting solution –- regularly puts the spotlight on any of its integrating partners. This adds value to Xero users and also the users of each of those partners who integrate with Xero.
Before you start off on any idea, however, it makes sense to test your idea by blogging about it, launching surveys, creating landing pages to gauge interest levels, asking people around, and experimenting in general.
What are you going to start with?
About the Author: Brian Zeng is a full service digital marketing consultant based in Shanghai, China. He specializes in SEO and content marketing. Brian works with some leading Asian startups, and helps them implement result-oriented internet marketing strategies that take their business to the next level. You can connect with him on Twitter @brianzengdotme.