If you have a unique creation or invention, and you are not selling it around the world on the Internet, now is the time to start. The cost of entry has never been lower. Anyone can be an entrepreneur today, without a huge investment, bank loans, venture capitalists, or Angels.
In the early days (20 years ago), most new e-commerce sites cost a million dollars to set up. Now the price is closer to $100, if you are willing to do the work yourself. Here are the key steps for a personal home-based business website selling a few products (as an alternative to Ebay):
Obviously, commercial e-commerce sites handling thousands of products and back-office functions are more expensive, and usually require professional help to do the custom programming and special site navigation features. All this may cost a few thousand dollars, but don't get talked into an Amazon.com replacement just yet.
The next step in complexity is building a software product that you can offer as a service to your customers. A simple example might be mortgage calculator to add to your real estate sales site. Any credible software developer should be willing to tackle this kind of tool for a couple of thousand dollars.
Then there are full-featured software sites like Facebook. The logic behind all these features is millions of lines of code, and cost millions of dollars to develop and maintain. Don't expect that you can create a new social networking site in your garage, and steal all the users away from Facebook. Facebook is making money today, but only after a $150 million investment.
But even Facebook started simple, and then developed more and more robust iterations as user interest caught on. I give this advice all the time "launch fast and iterate." You can't get it all right the first time, and the market will be gone if you try to include every feature in the first version.
The net is that if I see a website business plan today with a projected development cost greater than $200K, I suspect the founder must be including some fancy perks, or they don't understand the market dynamics of e-commerce today.
Budding entrepreneurs and home-based businesses should be writing business plans before they start, so they understand and can manage the tasks ahead, but no outside investor need ever see the plan. Fund it yourself (bootstrapping) and do-it-yourself entrepreneurs are the best kind, because they can focus on the business, rather than fund raising, and have full control of their destiny. Life is more fun that way. Grab your shopping basket.
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