Starting an online business is the perfect first step in your career as an entrepreneur. Barriers to entry are minimal, and the cost of doing business on an ongoing basis is incredibly low when you consider the potential earnings.
I started my blog and freelance writing career for under $100. Recently, income from my blog surpassed the rent I receive from one of my investment properties – which cost over 120k to purchase and continues to cost money in maintenance and repairs. Blogging is not passive income so I’m comparing apples and oranges here, but my point is this: you can start a business that makes money and gives you the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, for well under $50/month. That said, you do have to make some key purchases to grow and maintain your online business. These tools are my essential purchases for an online business owner.
5 Essential Investments for Your Online Business
If you want customers to find you, you need a website. Luckily, the cost of creating your own website is minimal. You need to purchase hosting which can run up to about $5/mth, a theme (between $20-$60/yr) and spend some time designing the website to make it look just how you like it. For more tips on how to create a website, have a read of this article (even if you don’t want to start a blog, the same steps apply).
2. Cloud office suite and branded email
Since you’re running an online business it makes sense to store your work product in the cloud so you can access it anywhere and across devices. I chose to go with Google Docs (now G Suite) and pay $5/mth for a branded email through Gmail. This means I have an email account with my business name (emma @ businessname.com) which I can access through Gmail.
3. Accounting software
Accounting used to be my most dreaded part of the month. That’s because I used a spreadsheet and would manually enter transactions and a lot of the time I’d forget what they were for so it took time to go through receipts and figure out what an expense was for. Creating quotes and invoices were clunky and I had to remember to manually change the invoice number. Plus, my archaic system was taking me away from actually doing the work I needed to do. After sending a client an invoice with the wrong date on it for the umpteenth time, something had to give. The solution to my heartache was cloud accounting with Xero.
Why Xero is perfect for online businesses
Xero can track payments across multiple currencies which is important if, like me, you spend in one currency and get paid in another (I love you USD). It also integrates with Paypal so you can track payments received for your online income which for me is mainly paid via Paypal. The Xero app makes it simple to track payments and invoices and even has a handy tool for snapping pics of your receipts so you don’t have to clutter your wallet with paper. There are loads more features that make it the perfect accounting system for online entrepreneurs – click here to learn more about Xero.
Xero offers a free 30-day trial so you can experience how their beautiful small business accounting software will make running your business easier. Ongoing plans start from $9/month (in the U.S.) which is a small price to pay for your time and sanity. Plus, accountants love Xero which makes tax time a breeze.
If you’re in the U.S. you’ll also get 30% off your first six months using this link: Try Xero for Free and Save 30% on Your First 6 Months
Since it’s 2017, you probably already have a computer so you might not need a new one. In this case, it could be a good idea to install extra ram to deal with increased usage and faster switching between applications. I needed a new laptop as my business started to ramp up. I purposely searched for a laptop suitable for gamers, even though I never play games online. As I write this, I have 7 tabs open in Chrome, Photoshop running and Norton is scanning for viruses in the background. My laptop is on for at least 8 hours per day. That’s pretty standard for an online business. Make sure you’ve got the right equipment to keep up with your business.
5. Productive Workspace
To create magic you need space. Somewhere solely for your work. It doesn’t need to be large, but it needs to be somewhere you feel inspired and productive with good light and a power outlet nearby. I converted a closet in our small house to my office space. I decorated with paint samples and recycled materials for a minimal cost. It makes a huge difference in how I think of my business to have a place just for my work.
Starting an online business can be a great way to make extra money and build a location-independent income. Invest in the right tools from the outset and you’ll have more time to focus on your business and save yourself the pain of change later on. Trust me on this one.