By Elizabeth Yin (Co-Founder, LaunchBit)
Lots of people ask us how expensive it is to launch a web business idea. That’s obviously an impossible question to answer. But, getting your first customers to get some validation for your business idea — now, that’s not as far off as you may think. Getting there would probably cost you less than an iPad. So, skip the frenzied line at the Apple Store and buy yourself a web business instead.

This is how I would invest my saved $499 in a web business idea —

Talk With Potential Customers: In-Person, Via Skype, Or Phone

  • Recruit potential interviewees using Craigslist, Google/Yahoo Groups, Ning communities,, vertical-specific forums, alumni lists, malls/cafes where applicable. (Cost: FREE)
  • Vet interviewees using Google Forms, choose 3-5 different personas to interview for 15-30 min each. (Cost: FREE)
  • Pay interviewees $10-$20 for each completed interview. (Cost: ~$120)
  • Paper/scissors to analyze each interview to find patterns with Google Docs. (Cost: Free)

Find First Customers Through A Landing Page

  • Build a landing page without coding using Unbounce, Weebly, or Yola. (Cost: FREE to $25)
  • Buy a domain name for extra credibility. (Cost: $15)
  • Check landing page for clarity using FiveSecondTest to ensure clarity in messaging. (Cost: FREE)
  • Run Google Ads to the landing page, aiming to drive 200+ visitors to your site. We like to bid under $1 per CPC. You can find cheap keywords if you look hard enough… (Cost: $200)
  • Run Facebook or relevant blog ads to the landing page, aiming to drive 100+ visitors to your site. Facebook ads tend to be more expensive and vary a lot more than Google Ads. Blog ads will range in price. (Cost: $100)
  • Drive more online traffic through relevant forums, Q & A sites, etc, aiming to drive 50+ visitors to your site from a combination of these channels. (Cost: FREE)
  • Analyze your marketing channels and landing page tests using Google Analytics. (Cost: FREE)

With 350+ people now coming to your site, you should now have a good handful of people who are eager to be your first customers/users. Combine that with people you spoke with in-person/via Skype, hopefully you now have a good group of users/customers to work with as you start to think about your exact product/service.

Total cost: ~$460 with money to spare. Go buy yourself a cheaper Apple product to celebrate.

For more tips and resources on starting a web business without coding, visit LaunchBit.

About the guest blogger: Elizabeth Yin is an internet marketer and backend programmer. Previously, she ran marketing for startups and also worked as a marketing manager at Google. Prior to Google, Elizabeth wrote backend code for startups during the rise and fall of the dot com era. Elizabeth holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford and an MBA from MIT Sloan. Follow her on Twitter at @launchbit.