An online business, compared to its brick-and-mortar counterpart, has numerous advantages in its favor. Alongside the likes of additional convenience and no geographical limitations, one of the biggest benefits of residing on the internet is the typical reduction in operating costs across the board.

With an online company, commercial property rental, staff members, and other resources can be significantly reduced - and, in some cases, eliminated entirely. Expenses are so low there are many business ideas that cost less than $100 to get up and running.

Nevertheless, in the effort to maximize the chances of your online business thriving, there are certain elements where you shouldn't cut corners and be restrictive with your budget. Below are four examples.

1. Website design

Unless you're active exclusively on ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy - which isn't recommended - your online business needs a website.

The good news: it has never been easier to build a website on your own. Platforms such as Squarespace, Shopify, and Wix have made it viable for non-tech-savvy business owners to craft and launch a professional site within a matter of hours.

The bad news: those aforementioned platforms all have limitations, to the extent you're unlikely to produce your dream vision. There's also a lot more to web design than simply a pretty aesthetic. It needs to function seamlessly. It needs to be lightning-fast to load. Plus, many SEO elements have to be factored into the equation to score brownie points with Google and rank high in relevant search results.

With so much to consider, it's unwise to go into the process of web design alone - particularly if you have no prior experience in the field. Instead, it's recommended to go with a professional, versatile, and reputable web design company like ALT Agency. By taking this route, you know all bases are covered, no coding flaws lie under the surface, and your site is a modern, feature-packed powerhouse.

Your website is central to whether your online business fails or succeeds, and, ultimately, it's the last area you should think about skimping on. 

2. Business software

A digital company can flourish with the right software in place. Not only can it save a lot of time and effort, but business software is also a great way to save on money and resources. The latter is especially the case if you incorporate the right software packages.

Whether you're searching for accounting software or a video editor, there's a wide assortment of options on the market. Some of these will be free. Others can set you back into four-figure territory.

There shouldn't be a stigma associated with free software. GIMP is more adequate than Photoshop for most. Yet, in certain situations, you will want to invest in a more premium option. The outlay won't be a welcome sight at the time, but it's likely to save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

3. Marketing

Admittedly, due to the versatility and variety of online marketing, it's possible to promote a business effectively on a shoestring budget. If you utilize social media with a strong game plan, for instance, you can reach thousands of potential customers without even spending a dime.

With that said, every business should be creating the biggest marketing net possible to cast over their target audience. In that scenario, one or two cheap promotional tactics won't cut it. You have to incorporate an assortment of marketing tools into your efforts, including:

  • SEO
  • Pay-per-click (PPC)
  • Email campaigns
  • Content creation (videos, blogs, infographics, etc.)
  • Local search marketing
  • Social media
  • Influencer marketing

Some of these can be done well on the cheap, yes, but others - such as SEO and PPC - require sustained, sizeable investment. Yet as the saying goes, the more you put in, the more you get out... Assuming the marketing investments are well-researched, of course.

4. Employees

It's true: you can run an online business all on your lonesome. In fact, plenty of sole traders produce healthy profits without the need to bring any employees on-board. However, if your business is to grow and improve those margins, you'll need help sooner rather than later.

Now that doesn't necessarily mean you have to hire permanent employees. Plenty of organizations make use of freelancers and agencies to help fill the gaps. The advantage of this is they can be brought in on a per-project basis, maximizing your expenditure as a result.

Regardless of how you receive assistance, always avoid going for the budget option left on the shelf. While you can potentially bring in overseas talent for way below the minimum wage, avoid this temptation by hiring quality, creditable workers.