Ecommerce businesses have a confusing rap. On the one hand they’re touted as the route to freedom and fulfillment, while on the other hand they have a reputation for being expensive, labor-intensive and complicated. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

Ecommerce businesses are an excellent way to work for yourself as a small business owner or entrepreneur, but it takes serious elbow grease to get them up and running. This is often confused with them requiring lots of capital, however, which isn’t true. In this article we’re going to talk about how to start your ecommerce business right away … for less than $100.

Choose Your Logo

To start your ecommerce site, you’ll need a brand. Choose a few colors (play with Kuler if you need help), and then get a logo. You can design your own logo using a free online logo maker, or you can buy one from, where you can get tons of goods and services starting at only $5.

Get a Free Website Trial

To start an ecommerce business, you’ll definitely need a website. Luckily, there are tons of free trials – and even free website services – available out there. Try a provider such as Weebly if you’re just getting started. If you’re more familiar with websites and ecommerce platforms, you might try Shopify’s free trial or WordPress with a free ecommerce plugin such as Ecwid, free up to 10 products. If your business takes off, you can upgrade to more powerful or more visually appealing websites, but for now these are excellent starting points.

Sign Up for Paypal

Getting paid online has never been easier. PayPal is totally free to sign up for, and only charges 2.9% plus $0.30. You don’t have to pay them until you make money, so there are absolutely no startup cost associated with using this versatile, powerful online payment system. The only thing you need is an email address. If you like, you can even pay business expenses from the same PayPal account, simplifying your bookkeeping.

Stock Your Store Cheaply

You’ll need inventory to start your ecommerce site. You can stock your store on the cheap with items in your own home, or from sites such as Ebay, Walmart or Amazon. List items for more than they cost you, and remember to cover the price of shipping. Shop in local stores to take advantage of sales, then list those items for more on your site. You can also list graphic files, which you only have to design once and can be sold over and over again.

Open Social Media Accounts

Now that you’re up and running, it’s time to get the word out. Get a few social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter. If your inventory is especially visual (say, art or vintage items), you can use Instagram and Pinterest as well. Post your items in the local buy-and-sell groups on Facebook. Tweet about sales. Talk about your wares in relevant forums. Form relationships with potential customers, and with other entrepreneurs in your field.

Remember Taxes

Whether you’re launching your ecommerce business as a hobby or a true trade, keep good records. Put all your receipts in one file and print out bank statements at the end of each month. Even if you start your business on the cheap, if you make a lot of money you’ll need to pay taxes on it, so it’s always important to keep organized records.

Starting your ecommerce business doesn’t need to drain your bank account. Follow the above steps to start your business today.