Can You Launch Your Services or Product Online for Free?

The short answer is no. Moreover, it's also painful. TL;DR

January 17, 2024
Eugene Polyansky, CEO
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The prevalence of posts and YouTube videos about "successful success" and how easy, simple, and most importantly, FREE it is to launch a business or product online (regardless of what it is) prompted me to address this topic. Clearly, my attention in the recommended content is based on my interests, which revolve around No-code, solopreneurs, and small business, directly related to the tools we at EGO use to assist such entrepreneurs. This content concerns me because a significant part of it misleads the audience.

I wanted to help entrepreneurs, especially those without a technical background, make informed choices in their decision-making, which could impact the success of their ventures.

Reflecting on this stream of information, I realized that often content creators (whether consciously or not) replace concepts, claiming that desired results can be achieved for free. The nearest place I know of without monetary transactions is 4 billion light-years from Earth. And even there, TIME - the most precious resource available to any living being in the Universe - is required to achieve the necessary result. Time is the only true currency and resource.

So, if you hear "for free," it likely means you'll pay with your time. I'm not saying this is always bad or wrong. It might be the optimal solution in your case. Constant learning is essential nowadays, and I highly recommend "spending" your time on new knowledge. Especially if you're a student or a recent graduate, "paying" with your time is the best idea: besides the result (even if it's negative), you gain invaluable experience and knowledge, which will help you spend less time in the future or even buy others' time. In this case, you're not spending but investing your time to leverage your experience. It's always about balance and the compromise you're willing to make to achieve your goals. Learning for the sake of learning is cool, but that's not why we're here, right?

Let's set aside extremes and special cases. Let's talk about the so-called average entrepreneur: not grabbing stars from the sky, a significant part of life behind them, lacking a technical background, surrounded by AI and new technologies, with media full of threatening headlines about inflation, layoffs, financial crises, and the "end of the world and we're all going to die." Give up everything? What about family, kids, mortgage, retirement savings?

It's clear that you'll have to pay, if not with money, then with time (and most likely both), but how do you understand where to "cut corners" and do it yourself (with your time), and where it's not advisable? The money/time ratio and specific "amounts" are always individual and depend on the entrepreneur's specific situation at a particular time and, most importantly, their goals. What resources are available (from existing sales channels to a simple logo)? Nevertheless, some patterns can be identified.

So, we have an established business that operated offline or didn't use all the online possibilities. And the day has come - we go online. What next?

I suggest always adhering to the Lean Startup idea - if you can save without losing quality, you should save; if you can achieve your goal in small iterations, take small steps without trying to do everything at once. This way, both your budgets - financial and time - will be under maximum control. Moreover, you'll be able to constantly receive feedback from your customers and partners and make improvements iteratively. But remember, the QUALITY-TIME-MONEY triangle is still relevant. It's the cornerstone for making decisions about where and what to "cut."

For example, if you want to reduce marketing costs and, following many others' advice, start your own YouTube channel, assess whether you can be a blogger or if you have a team member who can become the "face" of the channel. Will you have enough time (especially if you're a solopreneur or a micro-business with a team of up to 20 people, where everyone plays two or three roles) to prepare and record quality content consistently and for a long time? This can be very effective for promotion, and doing it yourself (even recording shorts on the way to the office) can significantly save on a marketing team. Or maybe not... Not everyone is ready to easily and simply perform publicly, even looking into a smartphone camera. Remember the survivorship bias? For every thousand successful YouTubers, there are hundreds of thousands that no one knows about.

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devops ninja animation

By the way, the advent of AI significantly eases this task - you can create your avatar, make it speak with your voice using beautifully written AI texts. And it's not expensive, at least in terms of money. But as for time - that's a debatable question. It's undoubtedly an excellent assistant for someone deeply immersed in the topic, knowing all the pitfalls - but what about a founder with a huge number of tasks? Especially if you're a carrier of critical experience and skills constantly needed in the business? And you also need to communicate with clients, contractors, tax authorities, accountants, banks, lawyers, do financial calculations, not forget about the family.

From my experience - I find it relatively easy to communicate one-on-one with a client or partner. But I'm definitely not cut out to be a YouTuber. Even with an avatar :) Speaking of which, even writing this and other posts is a personal challenge for me. Fortunately, due to the specifics of our agency, I often have to deal with the implementation and use of AI in our own and client projects.

Where you can really "cut corners" is in development (before you throw stones at me - yes, not all development and not at every stage of product creation can be "cut." I'm aware of that). I remember the early days of EGO - developing even a simple software product was quite a pleasure. Fun, of course, and interesting... Until the bill from the developers came. Now, compared to 2005 when I started, launching online services and digital products is a walk in the park technically. But in terms of promotion and sales, global connectivity and accessibility provide not only limitless opportunities but also immediately immerse you in a world of total competition, where there will always be an analogue or substitute for any of your products or services, and 99.9% of the time, it will be cheaper.

A vast number of platforms, builders, no-code solutions, and marketing tools are available for quick and inexpensive (I mean money) launch of anything - from dropship stores on Amazon and print on demand to complex SaaS (who would have thought?). These services have dramatically reduced the necessary investments to start and test your idea or products. True, you'll have to pay with your time if you do everything yourself (the most important thing - this is your only big risk in case of failure, but you'll gain knowledge). On the other hand, as I said, the entry threshold has lowered, and a huge number of entrepreneurs from all over the world have come with their ideas. If it turns out to be really unviable, you'll fall earlier and start something new faster. And if we have a valid idea (or service or product) - we're talking about an established business, right? i.e., we know that there is demand and the service is needed. In this case, having such tools allows you to reduce the time to enter the online market, and here it becomes critically important to choose the right tools, competently "digitize" and package the service or product. You'll need positioning, to stand out from competitors (possibly even adding additional revenue streams, which the entrepreneur, due to lack of relevant experience, may simply not know that it's possible), and to properly build and automate processes. There are many such services, like dandruff shampoo - all-in-one. But it's important to understand that excessive is not always good, everything should be in moderation, just enough to achieve the set goals with the available resources and capabilities. Here the main thing is to determine that balance where the entrepreneur pays with their TIME, and where it makes sense to look for a partner and buy THEIR knowledge, experience, and TIME.

So, with an unlimited range of solutions, platforms, DIY builders, no-code approaches, etc., the "non-technical" entrepreneur is left alone with the dilemma - either pay with their time to figure everything out themselves (and not necessarily successfully, and then be completely disappointed), or somewhere look for a partner who will not just impose services (as much as possible), but really understand the need, delve into the essence and offer exactly the set that corresponds to the resources and capabilities (limited), help not only with technical implementation but also suggest potential opportunities to achieve more or avoid problem areas. How to avoid mistakes and find that balance and compromise?

But this is no reason to give up, right?

Schedule a meeting with our team of professionals and discuss with you what options are available - what you can achieve with your own TIME, what will only benefit, and in what we can help with ours.

Good luck! And take care of your TIME - the only true currency and resource.

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