There are a number of reasons why people make the decision to move an offline business online.
As a result of the pandemic, many small businesses were forced to have an online presence. Many businesses didn’t survive this shift though and were forced to close.
Now, many small business owners who didn’t have an online presence are considering moving part or all of their businesses online.
Another reason is the desire to be location independent – the ability to work with clients, sell to customers, and operate from anywhere in the world.
For some people, it is a desire to reach more people and not be limited by geography. Others may want to make a bigger impact and, of course, make more money.
Whatever the reason for your decision, knowing where to start can be daunting for many people. Especially for those who are not technologically savvy.
Benefits of low-cost business tools for small businesses starting online
Although the information in this article is relevant to anyone who wants to launch an online business, it is specifically for those who already have a physical business presence somewhere but who want to also have an online presence or for those who want to move their offline business completely online.
Keep in mind that small businesses tend to struggle with limited resources; many small business owners may give up after starting the process to establish their online presence, when they consider the cost implications.
Having to pay for almost everything you do online (mostly in dollars) might make it difficult for many small businesses to even consider taking the necessary steps.
That is why I have put together this article to guide you. During the course of this post, I will introduce you to a set of reliable tools that were specifically chosen because:
- I am using or have used these tools myself.
- They are easy to use, it won’t take you long to get a grip on them.
- They were built with small businesses in mind. You can get started on all of them at very little or at no cost at all and upgrade later as your business grows.
Low-cost business tool for building a website in 10 minutes
Like many small business owners around the world, your offline business has a geographical location where customers can visit physically.
It could be a shop, an office or even a waiting room in your home – if you run a home-based business.
A business website is important for an online business presence. Think of it as an online location of your business.
There are many platforms that offer free websites. These free or freemium platforms, such as WordPress.com, Wix, and Google’s blogger, are all great blogging platforms.
I recommend Google Sites for any small business owner who would like to create their business website on a low budget.
Google Sites -low-cost business tools
It is a web-based tool offered by Google. The service also includes Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Drawings, Google Forms, and Google Keep.
Google Sites is only available as a web application and is free; and will always be free for as long as Google keeps it as a product.
It is a simple and secure way to start your online business. You don’t need a web designer, programmer, or IT help.
In addition Google Sites websites are responsive, which means they’re optimised for tablets and smartphones, too.
Low-cost business tool-getting started with Google Sites
To create a business website you need to have a gmail account. After, you will need to:
- Create your site by signing in at the Sites Homepage.
- Update and personalise your site.
- Preview and publish your site.
Google Sites can be viewed on most browsers on computers and mobile devices.
However, at the moment, you can only edit new Sites content on a computer using Chrome or the Mozilla Firefox browser.
Although with some limitations, Google Sites can also be used to create a basic eCommerce Storefront and you can embed a Paystack Payment Page – good enough for a start.
Cost: Setting up a Google Sites business website is entirely free. However, you would need to buy a domain name. I would recommend Namecheap. The price could be as low as $2.88/year. There’s variety on offer and it can be difficult to work out a common price for an online domain name.
Set up an Ecwid eCommerce Store – low-cost business tool
You can set up your own online store using Ecwid’s free package. The free package allows you to add up to 10 products.
It also offers essential features like $0 transaction fees, mobile shopping cart, and more.
As a business just moving online, this package (Free Plan) is a great way to test the water.
Read more about how to set up Ecwid online store here.
Cost: initially $0 but when you require a storefront for more than 10 products, then you need to upgrade to the Venture Plan, Business Plan or Unlimited Plan.
The Venture Plan enables you to add up to 100 products to your catalogue. The price is $15 /month or $ 12.50 /month paid annually.
The Business plan is for stores with up to 2500 products in their catalogue. The unlimited Plan is unlimited.
Paystack payment gateway – low-cost business tools
Just share that link on Instagram DM, WhatsApp chat, Telegram, add to your Google Site or however you communicate with your customers.
If you hope to sell outside the country, you can accept payments from anyone, anywhere in the world using Paystack. You can display prices in USD, and also get settled in USD.
Payments from internationally-issued cards or via Apple Pay are accepted. When you integrate Paystack, your customers are able to pay for goods and services using a variety of payment options, such as card payments, bank account, bank transfer, USSD, Apple Pay, Visa QR and mobile money. With just a click, your customers will be able to pay you instantly.
In addition, Paystack’s simple inventory management makes it easy to monitor incoming orders on web and mobile.
Paystack integrates with Ecwid and other platforms. For example, it has simple plugins that connect with websites like Wix, Joomla, and WordPress.
If you are wondering how you’d get your money, Paystack automatically remits your money to your bank account within 24 hours after a payment is made.
Typically, all merchants are settled before 10 AM, every morning.
Almost all types of businesses and organisations – registered and unregistered – are eligible to accept payments with Paystack, including startups and retail businesses.
Cost: It is free to set up and settlement is automatic. Local transaction fees 1.5%+ NGN100 (NGN 100 is waived for transactions below NGN2,500). Local fees are also capped at NGN 2,000. International transaction fees 3.9% + NGN100.
Set up a Google Business Profile – low-cost business tools
Formerly known as Google My Business, Google Business Profile helps you create a space for your business on Google searches.
It is indeed low-cost! It makes it easier for you to engage with customers on Google for free. With your free Business Profile, you can easily connect with customers across Google Search and Maps.
Your business shows up during customers searches for your business or products and services you offer on Google Search and Maps.
Whether you’re a home-based business or a service-area business, you can list your business details to appear on Google with or without a physical address.
To create a Business Profile, simply log in with your gmail account at the Business Profile Homepage.
After creating your Business Profile Account, you can manage and update your Business Profile and build a website to attract and engage more customers.
Even though you already have a business website, your free Google Business Profile complements your website by adding more visibility to your current business website on Google Search and Google Maps. You can even add a link to your website on your Business Profile.
However, your account needs to be verified before your Business Profile is up. Verification is used to confirm that you are the rightful owner of the business, so that you have permission to manage your Google Business Profile.
Log into your Business Profile account to update your address, phone number, website, open hours, and more; these will help customers find and connect with your business.
For most businesses, you can verify ownership over the phone via SMS.
However, the most common way is by requesting and receiving a postcard to your address from Google.
After verifying your account, make sure you keep your profile updated with fresh photos, special offers and promotions to make it easy for customers to choose you.
Cost: Entirely Free
Set up an all-in-one Systeme.io -low-cost business tools
Particularly if you want to grow an online business using a platform that offers you all you need in one place. From sales funnel to your own affiliate program!
Many people agree that Systeme.io is the best landing page software.
Systeme.io is great for beginners because it offers a free package, which is free forever, to introduce the platform to you.
Can entrepreneurs in Nigeria use systeme.io?
Systeme.io is essentially “a diamond in the rough”. Many tools you would otherwise have had to purchase on other platforms are available on Systeme.io.
The platform offers email marketing, sales funnels, online courses, and webinar functionality all under one roof – at a fraction of the cost.
Systeme io also offers a perfect blogging solution if you want a blog for your business.
This is an ideal solution for those who want all the tools they need in front of them without having to purchase from third parties.
Cost: Pricing plans begin with a Startup plan of $27. The Webinar plan costs $47 a month while the Entrepreneur plan will cost you $97 a month.