Let’s face it—we are only beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to the possibilities of Internet commerce. Every day businesses launch new products, programs, and platforms that they hope will be the next big thing. With the Internet touching so many lives, in so many places, it’s never been easier to run a business online. And in many ways, it’s even easier to run an online business from beyond the United States.
Low startup costs
Whether you’re starting an online drop-shipping business, launching an online system for business owners to use, or plan to build a popular design blog that functions just like a traditional business, startup costs are low on the web.
Here are the basics you’ll need to start an online business:
- Internet service
- Computer equipment
- Website domain and hosting
- Lots of time
The cost for each of these things will vary depending on where you live and the value you put on your own time, but generally speaking, you’ll spend less if you live outside of the United States.
It doesn’t matter where you live—people who don’t live nearby will find your life and business fascinating, so be sure to sprinkle that aspect of your life into your business.
Consider the gourmet sweet shop Ladurée, whose very name prompts fan girls everywhere to swoon with visions of delicious macaroons nibbled at romantic Parisian cafes. This company uses its beautiful roots to paint a strong brand image—from its website to the product photography—that people around the world know, trust and love.
You can do this by sharing a “day in the life” post on your blog, capturing your favorite local spot and sharing it on Facebook, or by going further and allowing the country you live in to influence the products you create and sell. Allow your fans and customers to get a glimpse into your wonderfully cultured life, and it’ll make them more eager to follow your company through and through.
If you live somewhere with ready access to great products people living elsewhere can’t get their hands on, why not set up an online shop filled with these goodies? South Korean company Jewelrism International set up an Etsy shop to promote and sell its products worldwide. In just two and a half years, they’ve racked up over 130,000 Etsy sales reselling craft supplies they source locally.
And if you’re a blogger with hopes of sharing your culture and building a blog business, Lucas Kleinschmitt of German Efficiency has written a must-read that explains Why International Bloggers Have an Unfair Advantage.
Living in another country also means you’ll be able to tap into more affordable resources than those living in countries like the U.S. and Canada, such as lower employee costs and cheaper rent.
For example, recently I hired a small web developer for a short-term project, and I was stunned to learn that he had a team of five employees. When I asked how he was able to charge such a low rate for the project while covering his expenses and earning a profit, he explained that in India, where he lives, it only costs him $1,500 a month to pay five full time employees and rent space in a prestigious downtown building.
Is the developer running a sweatshop? No. He’s paying his employees standard wages for their city and is able to grow his business by concentrating on building clientele. If you live in a similar part of the world, consider hiring someone part time to help you tackle tedious parts of your business, so you too can grow the way plenty of other small businesses around the world are growing.
Justine Grey is a web entrepreneur who writes Work Life Joy for frazzled business builders who long to work vibrantly and live beautifully. You can find her on Twitter at @JustineGrey chatting about life, work and her pop culture obsession.
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