Ever thought about starting your own business but aren’t sure if now is the right time? Now more than ever is the time is to claim your small business portion of the market and start realizing your dreams instead helping someone else build their fulfill their own dreams. This post will detail why you need to stop procrastinating and start your own business today!

You don’t need a website

While I do highly recommend having a website for reasons that will be detailed later, I must admit that a website is not needed to be a successful business owner in today’s market place. With highly optimized (SEO) local review sites such as Yelp, Citysearch, Google+ Local, etc. It is pretty easy to make your business stand out from the crowd for attractrive price of FREE! Once you claim your business listings from popular local area review sites customers will be able to find you business on search engines fast and easily. To create even more interest in your brand, you can add images and in some cases video, store location, hours of operations, forms of accepted payment, special offers, coupons, promotions, and Yelp has recently added gift certificates. Also you want to encourage your customers to leave reviews on your business listings. By doing so this will create more online visibility for your business and potential customers can get a feel for your products or services from your current customers. If you opt not to have a website at the very least get listed locally and monitor these sites frequently. With a completed business listing including some or all of the perks mentioned above you have a great chance of beating your competitors and standing out in the crowd. You can also keep track of what others are saying about your business and even if you get a bad online review, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing!

You can get a FREE website

While it’s not necessary to have a website {as outlined in the proceeding paragraph} it is recommended. Now you can create a website for FREE or little to nothing. A few months ago I announced in my Examiner.com column that Google partnered with Georgia to get businesses on line for free. Well the great thing about this is that the offer is open to ALL 50 states! You really do get your domain name and website for free with this Google offer. They have partnered with Intuit to help streamline the entire website building process and get this —it is extremely user-friendly! I know so because I just used this offer to set up my newest business venture Celebrate Atlanta, LLC. officially launching October 1st, 2012. Take a look:

I recommend this option to anyone that doesn’t have a clue about how to build a website and/ or is on a shoe-string budget. Click here to get started. For those that are looking for more diversity you can opt to use a website builder like Wix.com. They have different templates that look extremely professional and are easy to build as well. With them the website is in fact free, but with the free option you’ll be stuck with using a domain name that looks like this: www.yourbusinessname.wix.com. Or you can connect your own domain (highly recommended) for as little as $4.08 per month or have them host your domain for a range of $8.25 – $16.17 per month (at the time of this writing). I used Wix to create the website for my content writing business Small Biz Writer. A lot of my business friends that see this site often ask me who my web designer is… well now the cat is out of the bag! Take a look:

More FREE tools from Google

» Google Voice: If you need a dedicated business line but don’t want an added bill. Try Google Voice for your small business. With this FREE service you have the option of forwarding all calls to your cell phone or other phone. Additionally, Google Voice transcribes any messages that are left on your voice mail and forwards them to you via text messaging and/or email.

» Google Apps: Get up to 10 FREE email accounts at your domain using the gmail platform. I happen to love gmail so this was ideal for my new business. I currently utilize them for this email address [email protected] and it was extremely easy to set up (again I’m not tech savvy at all). Google apps also has a host of additional free services such as calendar, online docs, and more.

» Blogger: To increase online invisibilty and compete with competitors both large and small it is necessary to have a blog for your small business. Google provides Blogger, a FREE easy to use blogging platform that can help get any small business owner start with blogging. Now I know this is a Tumblr blog for Small Biz Diamonds (I have my reasons), and WordPress is considered to be the Rolls Royce for content management platforms within the blogging industry, BUT Blogger is a great platform for newbies to start out on and there are perks to using this platform. Not sure why you NEED a blog for your small business? Check out my post, 10 Commandments of Blogging for Small Business.

Crowdfunding

Thanks to the American Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, small business owners can seek funding online from investors via advertising. InvestRelease.com, an online news release distribution site that allows entrepreneurs and small businesses to announce and ‘directly advertise’ publicly on the internet that they are seeking funding. Which ultimately can help a small business owner to raise signinficants of money a lot easier via crowdfunding and other forms of advertisements.

Easy business document filing with CorpNet.com

When starting a new business you do have to make sure that you file the proper business documents for tax purposes in your state. What a lot of new small business owners don’t know is that is doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to do this. Unless you have special circumstances it is not necessary to file these documents using an attorney {save your money for things your small business may really need an attorney for}. I have a had the privilege of working with CorpNet.com for filing the business documents for Celebrate Atlanta, LLC thanks to winning 2nd place in BizSugar’s Rock Your Biz Contest. I also had a chance to interview and feature CorpNet’s CEO, Nellie Akalp who shared a wealth of information and even admitted that she works in a cubicle right next to her employees. Since Nellie is a small business owner herself, she is very in tune with our needs. There are three things I love about CorpNet.com: (1) they are truly like a family and have excellent customer service; (2) they will educate you about what business structure is best for your situation; (3) they are afforable, although I won the basic package ($49) I still had to pay for state filing and shipping and handling ($129) additionally the upgraded packages are very affordable as well; (4) they are FAST! I received my LLC paper work in 11 days! **Note this can very from state to state. Take a look I’ve protected my assets ;-) Thanks CorpNet.com!

Maintain a professional image via virtual office space/ executive suites

Don’t fret over leasing commercial office space for several thousand dollars a month, instead consider utilizing an affordable virtual office space. Many virtual office providers are offering month-to-month leases and/ or short-term contracts with added benefits for those that do sign up for the long term. Small business owners can build and maintain a professional image at a luxury business address. Typical amenities for business owners include: receiving mail, handling and routing customer phone calls, providing the business owner with a physical location to conduct business, train staff, hold meetings, and meet with clients. For more benefits that having a virtual office can provide small business owners with see, 9 Really Good Reasons Small Business Owners Should Use a Virtual Office Space.

Accept credit card payments with ease

These days bad credit or no credit will not stop you from accepting payments. In fact many credit card processing companies are offering payments “on the go”. Mobile credit card payments startup, Square has recently announced they are giving small business owners a break by offering a flat fee per month with an all swipes included option. Intuit provides a number of credit card processing options for small business owners including accepting payments; in the office, via mobile, via a website, or at a retail store. MoneyTree Merchant Services offer free terminal placement, fast approval, and absolutely no start up costs. With the proper due diligence you can find the right credit card processing service for your small business.

Sell products and select services globally

Now more than ever it is easy than ever to sell to customers all around the world. With the advent of popular social media networks and ease to building your own website or e-commerce store small business owners are no longer limited to local customers. Customers can be acquired nationally and/ or internationally, read How to Begin Sellig Your Products Internationally for tips on getting started.

Get business cards at an affordable price

Many people are familiar with the concepts such as Vistaprint, where customers can select from a limited number of business card templates and receive 250 business cards for FREE with Vistaprint’s logo and website info on the back. Personally, I don’t prefer those offers because the quality and image a business owner gives off are not the best. I feel if you can’t invest in yourself than why should I? With that being said you don’t have to invest a fortune either to have an outstanding business card. In fact Vistaprint’s premium selection has hundreds of offers to choose from and they don’t scream ‘I am cheap’ on them, I have purchased a number of them from there in the past. My business card provider of choice is Zazzle.com. They have unique business cards with great paper selections to make your cards business cards stand out. They also offer very afforable prices and every time I order from them there is a coupon code to go along with my purchase giving an additional 10% – 30% off of my order. In fact, I just checked my email while writing this paragraph and Zazzle has included a coupon to reorder my business cards in the next 3 days an receive 50% off! {I reordered!}

Partner with the big guys

You know what they say, ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’. Small business owners no longer have to compete with their larger partners thanks to IBM. They have created a FREE web portal called the Supplier Connection to connect small business owners looking for new opportunities to larger companies seeking new and innovative ideas as well as variety in their supply chains. The program has the potential to expand small businesses and create jobs.

Being a small business is cool

There are so many initatives to celebrate, honor, and get more foot traffic into small businesses doors or websites. A few of them are:

Additionally there are always a number of contests running to win money and exposure for your small business. Small Biz Trends has a detailed list of small business contest that are updated often. Other places to find contests include Examiner.com, and BusinessPlanCompetitions.com. You can also set a Google alert for ‘small business contest’, and small business contest alerts will be emailed to you directly.

There is nothing standing in your way, for becoming a small business owner. There are plenty of resources to aid you with getting started today. If you need help getting started blog sites such as Small Biz Trends, Future Simple’s Growth University, Small Biz Diamonds (shameless promotion!), to name a few can guide you on the path of being a successful small business owner. The key is to stop procrastination, take action, and…

Have you been procrastinating about starting your business? If so why? If not, what has motivated or contributed to you getting started immediately? Share your small biz diamonds in the comments section below.

Images: Business man yelling NOW! and Start Now button, the rest of the images have been created and/ or altered by Ashley Neal.