Reading journals and reports on business start ups is a good way to gain insight into what it takes to set up a business from scratch. What these articles confirm concerning start ups is usually what you already know from personal experience or from seeing family and friends who have given entrepreneurship a try.

Most regular small businesses are started on a shoe string budget. However, starting an e-Commerce business has never been easier mainly due to technology and one click set up options that have you up and running in no time whether you are tech-savvy or without any tech know how.

Most people who think of setting up an e-Commerce business envision themselves selling an amazing product and making a profit while doing so. Usually, the product or service is something that they truly love or deeply care about. The actual implementation of the idea and the start up cost, however, are the deal breakers. In fact, despite the initial high spirited enthusiasm, most people end up not taking any action.

People, who are thinking of starting an e-Commerce business and end up not going through with the thought, fall in three categories;

  • Those who worry about failure which prevents them from even beginning
  • Those who have the idea but are not sure what to do next
  • Those who have no idea at all on what to sell

The beauty of being an entrepreneur is the freedom to think outside the box. Whether inspiration drives you or forced by circumstances, both are amazing drivers for action.

How to start an e-Commerce business without capital

1. Identify a problem and provide the solution

Consider Tim who has a back injury and realized the importance of good posture after years of sitting day in day out in the office at his engineering job. He decided to make a chair with improved back support for himself which proved helpful to him. This prompted him to help others who might have the same problem, and business was born out of it.

2. Pre-sales

Pre-sales is a powerful strategy that helps you ensure there’s a real demand for your product and minimizes financial risk. If you have an idea of how much capital you need for your start up, then you can pre-sell the idea before production of a single product other than the prototype which you already have and can provide a sample for those who want to see before they buy.

Tim in the scenario above validated his idea by asking people to buy (pre-selling) before he embarked on the production of the seats. You can use PayPal, Shopify, Eventbrite or gumroad to pre-sell your idea at no cost to you.

3. Discard the fear of failure

Tim’s product is geared towards back support, so he consulted with his chiropractor on the materials to use. His chiropractor recommended foam built around the spine area for increased support as well as a specific conformity for the headrest and the base. Armed with this he went to work experimenting and failed several times. His current designs are as a result of 27 prototypes.

In fact, an earlier prototype gave a customer migraine. Having to work on the prototype further, Tim was not discouraged but kept improving the product based on his customer’s needs, and it got better with time. At the same time, his pre-order sales continued to rise which mitigated the financial risk.

It is aptly said that success is a forest of failures. Setting up an online store is the easy part; the more challenging part is the idea. A solid idea that is absolutely out of the regular mold is your start up. Though products may vary, you can borrow a leaf from Tim’s approach on starting an e-Commerce business with zero capital.