If you are starting a business or a side hustle right now, you might be thinking that you'll have to reinvent the wheel, spend a fortune, or do it all on your own. But that is not the case.
I'm the founder and CEO of The International Association for Business Development; I've been named the World's Leading Business Strategist; and I regularly speak at and consult for Fortune 500 brands. A few years ago, though, I was working at my day job as a freelance writer and self-publishing books out of a spare bedroom.
I believe a big reason why I was able to make the leap and transform my career is by practicing what I like to call the art of grassroots innovation. I've learned that getting ahead isn't about having more resources. It's about being resourceful and understanding which tools are already out there that can help you achieve your goals.
Whatever challenges you're facing in business, countless other entrepreneurs have experienced them too, especially when it comes to starting a side hustle online. And many inexpensive digital tools and platforms can make the barrier to entry lower than ever.
These are some of my favorite affordable sites and services, offering help with everything from graphic design to email marketing, that I've used and suggested to entrepreneurs starting virtual side hustles and start ups.
Have a great idea for a virtual conference? To prototype it and run a simple campaign to see if it resonates, you could start by building a new website on Squarespace ($12/month) or Wix ($13/month). If you need free stock photos or video, some of my favorites are platforms like Unsplash.com and VideoHive ($20 and up per video element).
A free account with SendInBlue will let you reach out to and send up to 300 emails a day to potential attendees to see if you can drum up interest.
Video by David Fang
If you wanted to build a site to a launch a coaching or consulting business as a side hustle, for example, you could install WordPress (free), grab a pre-made web template from ThemeForest ($5 and up) or TemplateMonster, and get access to a variety of free, and royalty-free, graphics from StockSnap.io.
A host of free and value-priced WordPress website plug-ins can help you add functionality from newsletters to membership or subscription services to online courses you teach. You could even use solutions like Zazzle and CafePress to produce cost-effective promotional items.
If you need an easily assembled online storefront, Shopify can help you get up and running in less than a day for $29/month. A host of services like VistaPrint, CDBaby, and CustomInk can quickly help you build out inventory or distribution. And if you're looking to start your own fashion or record label, for example, Moo.com can help you print sharp-looking business cards ($19.99 and up).
Video by Jason Armesto
You can use free or cost-affordable email newsletter and digital marketing software like MailChimp (free to get started, $9.99/month after) and AWeber (free for under 500 subscribers, $16.15/month after) to build and manage mailing lists and encourage audience sign-ups.
If you want to write a book, you could type it up and have a cover designed by an artist on Fiverr.com ($5 and up) or on your own with help from a design platform like Canva. Format the cover into your document and send it to your Kindle E-reader's email.
The file can then be sent to Kindle Direct Publishing or Lulu for distribution. Just like that, for less than the cost of a mixed cocktail, you've put your work out into the world to find a new audience.
Scott Steinberg is the author of "Think Like a Futurist″ and "Make Change Work for You," and is the CEO of BIZDEV: The International Association for Business Development and Strategic Partnerships.
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