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Do you dream of leaving your day job, working for yourself, and pursuing your hobby or passion full time?

Getting a business up and running is easier and more affordable than it has ever been. Gone is the need to invest huge amounts in fit-outs, inventory and rent before even making your first dollar. The tools that enable retail businesses to succeed – the tools that used to be available only to companies with deep pockets – are now within anyone’s reach. Even yours.

The cloud revolution is shaking up the retailing world, and smaller, nimbler businesses are leading the charge. There has never been a better time to start your own business and follow your dreams. No more excuses.

Here are 6 tips to start your business on a shoestring.

1. Have a strong concept

Sorry if it seems facile, but you won’t get anywhere without a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish. You’ll just experience a lot of self-defeating false starts.

Sit down for ten minutes and write down the 5 things you want to accomplish within your first 6 months of business. Make them realistic. But make them hard. Then put those 5 things on your refrigerator and look at them every day.

2. Test the market

Checking to make sure there is a market for your product is the most important thing you can do before starting a business. And we’re not talking old school methods like expensive surveys, either. The huge popularity of local markets and buy-swap-and-sell sites offer you a thrifty chance to test your products and your reach before making a huge commitment to your startup.

3. Sell Wholesale

Connect with dealers who support local products and services. Approach local businesses about carrying your products. You don’t have to operate this way for always, but it will give you a good idea of realistic turnover rates, your product’s demographic, and who sells what best. All great knowledge for your future self.

4. Get online

This is the first of the cloud computing revolution mentioned before. You can create an online store in minutes, using hosted ecommerce platforms. Construct your own great-looking ecommerce store with a free template, or hire a designer if you have the cash.

But once you’re open, keep in mind that getting online sales is about more than just attracting customers to your website. It’s also about getting your products in front of as many people as possible. Do this with online marketplaces like Ebay and Etsy, or shopping comparison marketplaces.

5. Be Mobile

Never wait for your customers to come to you. Get out there and find your customers. Buying and fitting-out a mobile boutique is way more affordable that setting up a shop – and is a great accessory for when you finally do have your own physical retail store. The marketing and outreach strategies are endless; plus you’ll have your own billboard on wheels!

Plus with cloud computing you can keep your expanding operations simple and organized. The right cloud POS is portable, works offline, and will integrate with your ecommerce store so you can manage everything from one app. You’ll know exactly how much sells where and when, what your most popular products are – and even keep track of happy customers for future promotions. And you can do it all from an iPad POS.

6. Set Up Shop

You’ve done it. You’re ready to open up shop. Still, you don’t have to go crazy and sink yourself with a second mortgage to do it. Start small. Set a pop-up shop in your desired area. Get to know the populace. Don’t be afraid to get lower rents by setting up off the beaten track. If you’ve done your groundwork and created a strong brand, customers will come to you.

The most important thing – and this goes back to the cloud – don’t waste money on IT you don’t need. Forget about local networks, servers, and Microsoft Office. All you need to get started selling is an occasional internet connection, an internet browser and a subscription to great cloud POS software. Good luck. You can do it.