How to Get an Online Business Up and Running For Less Than $50 Today

by / ⠀Startup Advice / March 4, 2013

A lot of “business experts” look down on young entrepreneurs because they think we’re “too young and inexperienced” and “don’t know what we’re doing” BLAH BLAH BLAH….

Biggest load of rubbish I’ve ever heard, BUT it’s my biggest motivator yet!


Call me a freak but I get UBER-MOTIVATED when people tell me I can’t do something…it’s kinda like “I’m gonna prove you DAMN WRONG now” sorta thing.

“You’re too young to start a business” “No-one will want to do business with you” “You don’t have enough experience”

Hmmm….Well, I’ve proved them ALL wrong. I now have my own business up and running and actually pay for my own university fees (and can buy a few very nice extra bits too thank you very much!) and it all started when I was just 18!


Listen up folks…

The easiest, cheapest and most successful way young people have had businesses is online. Check out these online teen millionaires to see for yourself.

Why? Because there are BILLIONS of people on the internet, of ALL AGES, ready to listen to you, buy from you, and talk to you. Basically there is a HUGE market for you to relish in and it’s still expanding!

“Okay okay, so how do we ACTUALLY DO THIS?”

(Well, bear in mind that to legally set up your own limited company and operate as a legal business you need to be 18, so if you aren’t 18… you may want to reconsider reading this article, or ask your parents to help you out!)

But anyway, let’s get started already!

First you need to come up with an idea and RESEARCH IT WELL.

This doesn’t need to be necessarily selling anything, but it DOES need to be something you are good at, interested in and know people want or need. Try looking around on google, asking your friends and your local business newspaper for some inspiration. Some ideas previously proven successful are:

  • Social Media Marketing
  • Facebook and Twitter Layouts
  • Gossip Blogs
  • Online Young People Discussion Forums
  • Copywriting
  • Selling people’s old stuff online
  • Selling basic products online

The list goes on…

THEN you need to go and research and learn the most you can about that field.

People only buy from and listen to people that can PROVE they know what they are talking about!

Next, you MUST validate that idea

Doing this quickly and cheaply NOW saves a LOT of havoc down the line. Trust me!

To do this:

  1. Set up a simple webpage/website describing and selling a simple version of your blog/service/products. To do this you’ll need to:
    • Register your website name/domain (hint: buy the .com and to ensure no one can copy, or try to buy you company brand website)
    • Buy some hosting somewhere to park and edit your site
    • Download and install Word Press to create a really professional looking site
    • Register with to accept payments.

All this will all usually cost you around $45 in total.

  1. Send out some quick flyers made yourself on Word/Publisher or professionally bought for around $30 on Vistaprint,  and set up a quick twitter/facebook page to advertise it and generate interest
  2.  See what comes back!

Legally you need to have contact details on your website so you will need an email and phone number. The easiest way to do this is to buy a cheap Pay As You Go phone and a Sim-Card with some Top-Up Credit, and set up a simple Gmail account. Done!

But anyway…back to business…

If you get even just 1 comment/order back from your idea validation, you know it’s something people want! So keep going with it and develop the idea more and more to make it the best it can be. This might include adding extra details, more marketing, expanding the topics on your blog, or adding another product/service to your listings.

HOWEVER…. If it TOTALLY FLOPS and no-one is interested, scrap it and move on. Find something else! There is absolutely no point wasting your time and money on something that no one will buy.

When you have your idea validated and have started to get some hits/comment/orders in, you need to think about whether or not you are going to be accepting payments for goods.

If you aren’t then just keep going with your website and expand! Comment on other people’s blogs and forums, generate some press by emailing reporters and journalists about your new start-up, look into Google Adsense and Affiliate Marketing to generate some revenue if needed! And STOP READING THIS ARTICLE NOW.

If you ARE going to be accepting payments however, it is a good idea to set up a limited company to limit your liabilities (and a whole host of other reasons e.g. to be more professional!) So now you really do need to be 18, DEFINITELY speak to your parents.

When you’ve consulted your parents, got briefed on the law (for a start you have to be 18 years old etc, tax implications etc), you will need to approach a local accountant (find one by googling “chartered accountants” in your local area). When you’ve found one, email or ring them and explain that you want them to set you up a limited liability company and they’ll walk you through the paperwork and processes etc. Accountants usually charge around £100 an hour for this +admin fee so be prepared for this! When the paperwork comes through you will need to file it somewhere safe and keep it! There, you now have a limited company and a website all set up and ready to go!

Then you will need a bank account to accept and send MOOONNNAAYYY. You will need to ring up/email your local banks and make meetings with your favourite 2 or 3. Tell them you are looking to set up a business bank account and require no loans or credit (this just has a massive TROUBLE target written all over it and you don’t really need it for online work – AVOID AT ALL COSTS!) Attend a few meetings and explain that you will “need to think about it and will get back to them”. Decide the one you feel most comfortable with and arrange another meeting to finalise the paperwork. They will ask you a series of questions and require ID, your business paperwork etc. It’s all pretty standard procedure. After this, they will send you a debit card, cheque book and bank account all set up and ready to go!

Finally, go hell-for-leather getting orders because businesses aren’t businesses without orders!

Try for some cheap (but really professional!) leaflets, signs, flyers, business cards!

Email companies/people you think would be interested in your products/services (but be careful not to sound too “markety” or send too many as you may be subject to SPAMMING complaints!)

Use Guerrilla Marketing to bring in valuable sales and interest on a low budget.

And most of all good luck!

I hope this has inspired you to start your business journey. If all this scares you because you’re not quite 18 yet, that’s fine, just make a note of all your ideas and keep developing them until you ARE 18 – that’s what I did. Plus, you can always just make a simple blog and put down some interesting information, links, a bit about your ideas (but beware of people copying them!) and build up your reputation and credibility now commenting on other people’s sites and blogs etc, then youll have a pretty big audience already set up when you DO launch your ideas and go into business!

Never be afraid to try out business because of your age. There are plenty of very wealthy teens out there that started out just like you! (Just be careful exactly what business you go into, and ALWAYS check out the law first!)

And if you EVER just wanna talk about it all, or need some help and advice, feel free to gimme an email. I’ll always do my best to help you out as much as I can:

Natalie Chappell is a young entrepreneur who runs her own marketing and web design company from university NJC Business Solutions Ltd. She regularly updates her blog on business, marketing and copywriting tips and knowledge and loves to help out others!

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.