Startup costs: The tools you need to launch an online business for less than $100

The investment you make into your startup costs has limitless potential for growth.

That’s not hyperbole either. Imagine you have a $50 product. How much do you think you could earn in a year with just ONE sale a month?

$50 product x 12 months = $600

Some more numbers:

  • If you sold 10 products a month, you’d have $6,000 in a year
  • If you sold 20 products a month, you’d have $12,000
  • If you sold 100 products a month, you’d have $60,000 in a year

And you don’t need millions of dollars from angel investors and venture capitalists to get started, either. Once you research and validate your idea, you can start an online information product business this week for less than $100.

How? With online businesses the capital costs are low. The real differentiator is the stuff you can’t pay for. Knowing your customers, nailing your copy, and creating a product that people actually want.

If you don’t put in the time, effort, and energy of knowing your customer and market, it doesn’t matter if you have $100 or a million — you’re not going to succeed.

So if you’re willing to put in the energy, I want to show you a good way you can start a business for less than $100.

The truth about startup costs

Many new entrepreneurs focus on the wrong thing when they start their business:

  • “I need to make a Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/OkCupid page so I get my brand right!”
  • “I have to move to San Francisco so I can start rubbing elbows with industry leaders!”
  • “Should I get my 1,000 business cards in bone white with the raised lettering? Or off-white with the watermark?”

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Why do we do this? Why do we waste our time on superfluous BS when we should be focusing on the systems that actually help us build our business?

Simple: Effort is scary. Effort means actually putting in the money to develop your business. It’s much easier to order business cards or make an Instagram page and feel like you’re doing something. In reality, you’re just putting off doing the work of actually starting your business.

I won’t let this happen to you.

That’s why I broke down exactly what you need to start your business without the BS and how much it’ll cost.

The best part: You won’t have to break the bank to do it.

Essential costs for your online business

Let’s pretend we’re building a business called Charisma Builder. It’s focused on coaching young men and women to develop confidence in social situations.

The following is the absolute bare essentials of the things you need to start Charisma Builder — or really any online business. Remember, though, this is going to change depending on what sort of business you start. For now, we’re focusing on creating an online business for your coaching services.

If you’re launching physical products, be sure to check out our article on the topic for more.

To start, we’re going to need a website.

Having a website and blog gives you the ability to own your own platform so you won’t have to rely on third-party sites for traffic and customers. And though having things like a Facebook page or YouTube channel can be helpful later on, you really don’t need it now.

When creating your website, you need just two things:

  1. A domain. The name people use to find your site.
  2. A web host. The website itself.

You can have a domain without a website but you can’t have a website without a domain name. That’s why your first step is going to be to purchase a domain.

1. Domain

COST: $12.99 / year

I recommend you use Hover for your domain. Its simple interface and affordable domains make it a great deal. Also, it integrates seamlessly with WordPress (more on that in a bit).

As of writing this in 2018, the typical price for a .com on Hover is going to run about $12.99 per year.

Domain is available for the price of a Chipotle burrito with guac and a drink!

That’s just one suggestion for a domain registrar. A few other great options:

  • Google Domains. No-nonsense, easy to use domain registrar. Prices starting at $12 / year for a .com.
  • Namecheap. Domains as cheap as their domain suggests — with some as low as $0.88/year. A .com will run you about $12 / year.
  • GoDaddy. Skeezy commercials aside, they’re a tried-and-true domain registrar. A typical .com there runs for around $12 / year.

So we have Charisma Builder’s domain. Now it’s time to point it to a website. For that we’ll need a good web host.


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2. Web host

COST: $35 / month

I suggest WP Engine. It’s a simple web host that offers easy integration of your domain to WordPress, a powerful website platform.

As of writing this in 2018, WP Engine offers a basic plan at $35 / month or $350 / year.

WP Engine
Charisma Builder is going with the annual plan for $350 / year.

Of course, this isn’t the only web hosting service out there. A few other suggestions:

  • BlueHost. A popular web host for entrepreneurs with stellar customer support. Prices starting at $5.95 / month.
  • HostGator. Good site with “one-click” WordPress installation. Prices begin at $13.99 / month.
  • DreamHost. Great web host with unlimited websites, storage, and web traffic. Prices starting at $7.95 / month.

Now we have Charisma Builder’s website up and running. Now it’s time to build a list of loyal followers who’ll be throwing elbows to buy your product.

3. Email service provider

COST: $19 / month

Your email list is going to be the soul of your online business. Without it, it’s very hard to share your ideas and get people excited by your products.

While there are a lot of great platforms out there to gather subscribers, we suggest you use AWeber. They’ll provide you with all you need to build a list, including sign up forms and a host of autoresponder tools.

Plus they come with a great 30-day trial for you to try it out risk-free.

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Their prices start at $19 / month. That plan comes with up to 500 subscribers on your list.

There are plenty of other list builders out there though — and some will build your list for free. Some more suggestions below:

  • MailChimp. Great straightforward platform to build your list. FREE for up to 2,000 subscribers.
  • Leadpages. Awesome platform for designing landing pages. Prices starting at $25 / month.
  • Instapage. Easy to use landing page creator with drag-and-drop page customization. Prices starting at $69 / year.

Now we have Charisma Builder’s website and list all set up for a total of $67 — essentially setting up the business for less than $100. Awesome!

That’s the bare minimum though. Let’s take a look at our options if we really want to make Charisma Builder shine.

Costs for everything else

The following are things that you don’t necessarily need for your business — but having them elevates your business to the next level.

No, we’re not talking about business cards or Facebook ads either. We’re talking things that are going to help make your website and business great.

1. Simple, attractive website theme

COST: $10 – $5,000

Two great places we suggest shopping around for themes are:

  • StudioPress. Great platform for WordPress themes.
  • ThemeForest.Comprehensive theme aggregator across a variety of web hosts.

If you’re not sure what theme works for you, I suggest you purchase Genesis Framework ($59.95) from StudioPress. It’s a good, customizable website theme that’s perfect for new businesses.

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Of course, you can always hire a designer to create your website. Though doing this before you have customers is a path to heartache and spending $1,000+.

2. Membership site

COST: $197

Say Charisma Builder wants to expand from coaching to courses. To do this, we’ll want to build a membership site where our students can go and access the course.

For this, we recommend using WishList Member. This is a powerful platform that helps you create a membership site on top of your WordPress site to password protect your products.

Prices for WishList Member start at $197 for a single site license.

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Once you have your license purchased, you can now upload products onto your site and password protect it so only paying members can access it.

That brings us to:

3. Audio / video products

COST: $249 + $99 / month

Say you want to develop a four-video course for Charisma Builder about starting amazing conversations. For that, you’re going to need two things:

  1. Video recorder. This is what you’ll use to actually record yourself.
  2. Video host. Where your videos will live.

For a video recorder, we recommend using Camtasia. It’s a screencasting application that lets you record your voice and screen at the same time.

So while you walk your students through slides about conversation starters from Keynote or PowerPoint, you can record your explanation at the same time.

It’s what we use here at GrowthLab for all of our courses.Screen Shot 2018 05 07 at 9.07.11 AM

Once you’ve recorded your video, you’re going to have to put it on a video host website. We recommend you use Wistia. This site allows you to store your videos and embed them onto your WordPress page easily. They’re great for product videos.

Wistia starts out for FREE. However, it only comes with a three-video limit as well as Wistia branding on your video player.

I suggest you go with their Pro plan at $99 / month. This allows you 10 free videos sans Wistia branding.

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Download your FREE Technology Toolbox

Every business will have different startup costs. We only gave you one example of how much your business might cost you.

That’s why we created the Online Business Technology Toolbox.

This is the perfect guide to show you:

  • Product creation tools
  • Email systems
  • Support help we use at IWT and GrowthLab that has helped us after over a decade and millions in sales

You don’t need a massive budget and you don’t need fancy tech skills. This guide will be your checklist for every resource you need.

Want to build a business that enables you to live YOUR Rich Life? Get my FREE guide on finding your first profitable idea.