India has always been a land of small businesses, especially as far as women entrepreneurship is concerned. Chances are that you too have been surrounded by many of them growing up. Your neighbourhood aunty who runs a boutique from home. Your cousin who teaches crochet, quilling and paper-craft to the ladies in her apartment building. Your home-baker friend who makes cakes and cookies on orders. Each one of them is an entrepreneur. Or, as they call them now, homepreneurs.
Fortunately for a lot of small-business owners, there’s never been a better time to sell. Major technology platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have started creating specific programmes for entrepreneurs. Many new platforms have also sprung up to cater to such businesses. To start your business online, you do not need to spend a lot to build your own e-commerce site; you can do it on your own with minimal investments.
You can start selling easily from any of these platforms. Read on to know how.
1. Social Media (Facebook/Instagram)
Another reason to be on Facebook or Instagram! Only this time instead of scrolling through your feed or browsing through stories, you can use it productively to drive your business, and sell your products to your customers directly. All you need to do is create a dedicated Facebook or Instagram page for your business, and consistently keep sharing content about your business, including advertising the products. You can add a ‘Shop’ section on the page, through which people can buy directly through your Facebook/Instagram page. This saves you the time and money of investing in a full-fledged website.
Tip: Ensure you list your Facebook/Instagram page as a business account over a personal one. Also, you could invest a minimal amount on running paid advertisements. While running ads is an expenditure, with the data you can track what is working and what is not.
2. Social Commerce (Meesho/Bulbul/Mall91)
In case you’re wondering what this is, Social Commerce is definitely the new thing when it comes to selling products. Social Commerce Apps allow you to make videos of yourself with the products (either your own or those from other sellers, which you can opt to re-sell to your friends and family). Selling through such platforms allows you to widen your audience base, while also allowing you to create video content without a lot of investment. What’s more, most platforms allow you to do this in a language you’re most comfortable with.
Tip: With the rise of social commerce, there are multiple platforms where you can become a seller/reseller. While it may be tempting to list yourself on all platforms, it might be a better idea to start with one (or two!). By this, you can dedicate your time and efforts to building a business on selected platforms, which is likely to give you positive returns.
You might be using WhatsApp to communicate with your friends and family all day long. But did you know that you can easily turn WhatsApp into a powerful tool to grow your business? If not, you know now! You can do this in a variety of ways. You can create a dedicated WhatsApp group where you can share details of your products like their pictures and prices. People can place their orders directly, and either pay you cash or transfer to your mobile wallet or bank account. Or, if you don’t want to create a group, you could create a broadcast list where again, you can keep updating your existing and potential customers with your products. If used well, you can save up on a lot of advertising costs, as sharing content on WhatsApp is absolutely free.
Tip: While WhatsApp is a great channel, it can also backfire if not used properly. If you have a WhatsApp group, ensure all conversations are strictly related to your business. If you have a broadcast list, avoid constantly sending updates (else people will block you!). Share content in moderation.
4. Food Delivery Platforms (Zomato/Scootsy/Swiggy)
For all those home-chefs in the food business! If you bake and cook at home, but find it difficult to grow your business since you don’t have delivery services, here’s your solution. You can list your business on any of these (and more, since there are many city-level food aggregators) platforms, who take away the hassle of you having to invest in delivery staff. All you need to do is continue to do what you do best: prepare your product, and have someone else deliver it for you in exchange for a commission. In all likelihood, the commission will turn out to be cheaper than the cost of having a full-time delivery person.
Tip: Quality, quality, quality! While this principle holds true for all businesses, customers tend to be very picky about the quality of food, and packaging. If customers are unhappy with either, chances are that the platform will penalise you.
5. Video Platforms (Zoom/Google Hangouts)
For everyone who’s in the services business, video conferencing takes away the issue of not being able to meet your clients physically. You can teach your yoga classes, take your counselling sessions, and even teach tuitions, all on video. And charge for this. Insist on prepayments, and get your clients to sign in to a unique link that you create and share with them for each session.
Tip: To ensure video communication is a success, you will need a well-functioning internet connection, for your sessions to go on smoothly.
There’s probably never been a better time to venture into entrepreneurship, as it is possible today to start small and scale big over a period of time. Especially in a time who can actually put technology into good use towards growing your business. All you need is to get to your basics right, and the required focus and commitment to growing your business. And if you are wondering about your options, these potential business ideas with low investment and high profit can help you get off to a great start.