How to Start an eCommerce Business With 0 to Little Capital

This article has been fact-checked for accuracy.

This article is the third part of the “How To Start An Online Business With 0 To Little Capital” series. To read the other parts, check out the links below.

Part 1: How I Started A Million Dollar Online Business With $300
Part 2: How To Start An Affiliate Marketing Business With 0 To Little Capital
Part 4: How To Start An Online Course Business Teaching Your Passion



Welcome back, hustlers! So I know, eCommerce is this giant buzzword that people associate with giants like Amazon, Alibaba, eBay and all kinds of other eCommerce platforms. It’s no wonder when I probe people who tell me they are starting an eCommerce business, I find that 95% of them are actually selling physical products online on these platforms.

You might be wondering why am I talking about this. But first, let me tell you my personal definition of eCommerce. You could be selling consulting services, freelance graphic design, stock images, some social media management software, email marketing software, a music streaming service, and even houses. To be honest, it doesn’t matter what you sell – if you sell something through the internet and get paid for it, that’s eCommerce.

Since the perception of eCommerce for most people is perceived to be for physical goods, this article will be all about building an online business selling physical products. So let’s get started. My first exposure to eCommerce as we know it, was when my family members went on a trip to Europe when I was 17 years old. I used all of my life savings to buy 10 of these bags.

I knew that branded handbags are extremely cheap in Europe since travelers don’t have to pay for VAT, so I asked them to buy 10 Louis Vuitton bags (costs about 3,000 USD) that I quickly uploaded to a popular Malaysian forum – most popularly known as Lowyat. I figured that if these bags were cheaper than retail in Malaysia, I’d be able to make some money out of that. So that’s what I did and I sold all 10 of the bags within 2 months and made a nice profit out of this mini “eCommerce” venture.

My second stint, was when I was dropshipping female clothing from this supplier in Penang Malaysia – Whizet. I built the store from the ground up, spent about 100USD on hosting and the store was already up and running. I was new to the dropshipping business model, and I was still working my day job. I made a couple of sales here and there but I ended up stopping because it was severely affecting my performance at work.

The reason why I’m telling you these two stories is that I want to highlight two different forms of eCommerce business models that are available to you guys. The first scenario, is the self-fulfillment, inventory stocking scenario. You have to fulfill the orders yourself, and you have to have inventory in stock to make sales. The second scenario is the dropshipping model. Dropshipping means that you don’t have to stock inventory, you just have to focus on marketing and selling.

The dropshipping model works like this:

1. You upload products that are available from your dropshipping supplier 2. Your market/sell it to your consumers
3. They pay you money for the goods
4. You place an order with your dropshipping supplier
5. The dropshipping supplier sends out the order with your company name on it
6. Buyer receives the product, thinking it came from your own warehouse


Interesting, right?

I know, there are tons of gurus out there who advocate dropshipping, and it has received a bad name over the last 2 years because tons of these get rich quick gurus out there are full of shit and have no idea what they’re doing. I’m here to tell you that it’s a legit, money-making business model. When done right – dropshipping can be life-changing.

I recently met this timid looking dude (I’m keeping his name private as I do not have his permission to share his name) at a marketer meet up that was held in Mindvalley’s office, Kuala Lumpur. I was there for an interview and quite a number of people were trying to have a chat with me during the Q&A session. He was just standing there patiently waiting for his turn. I didn’t think much about him at that time – but boy was I wrong.

After (finally) speaking to him, I found out that he was running 10 different dropshipping stores, specialising in selling Chinese products to the world. His combined revenue is about USD80k a month. The best part is, he’s a one-man team and relied solely on 1) Facebook advertising and 2) email marketing for lead generation and retention optimisation respectively.

I invited him to be on the Hustlr show as an interviewee for our YouTube channel and podcast a week later. He just told me that he’s taking a break and he’s going to be spending the next 3 months traveling the world and do some soul searching – while his business continues to run from his mobile phone.

I can almost hear you scream “What in god’s green earth!”.

I don’t blame you – that’s what I thought as well. The point that I’m trying to make here is that dropshipping is a legitimate business model. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. You just need to know how to do it.

P/S: If you’re interested in finding out more, you can check out my free online workshop. I also have a dedicated course on starting an eCommerce and dropshipping business from scratch.

Before you get angry, I just want to say that this isn’t a post about dropshipping. I’m here to share with you some other ways that you can deploy to start running an eCommerce business with zero to little capital – dropshipping is just one of them.

Here is one general strategy that I personally use where you can start any type of eCommerce business with limited capital.


Pre-launch/Pre-sell to validate your idea

As hustlers, our objective when launching a new business should primarily be minimising risk and at the same time maximise upside. So, always start small and validate your idea before committing a ton of resources into the business.

One of the best ways to start making money is to pre-sell whatever you have to offer.
If you have one product to offer, you can do so by setting up a simple landing page with a landing page builder from Wix or Mailchimp and start driving relevant (emphasis on relevant) traffic to it. Hook it up to an email service and measure the conversion rate. Typically if I achieve 15% opt-in conversions, the idea is a go. This was exactly how Vape Club started.

If you have an eCommerce concept that you want to bring to life but you don’t have the funding necessary to boost up your inventory, setting up a Shopify store is another way to do it. Put up your products and start accepting payments, but make god damn sure that you put in a disclaimer or notice that the product is only available for pre-ordering. The last thing you want is a horde of consumers shaming your brand before you even officially launched.

I think this is a fantastic way to start ANY eCommerce business, especially if you are strapped for cash like I was a few years back. It’s become a habit in my company because we still launch new products using this exact methodology.


Least resources, maximum results.

Let me tell you my personal story about how I launched my digital course just to help you conceptualise this better.

I always wanted to launch a digital course teaching people a skill that could transform people’s lives. However, I was always plagued with this question, “Would people actually pay for my course?” This was a question that I had for the last 2 years but I decided enough is enough, I’m going to try selling it first.

My team and I decided to commit to creating an online education business and we started advertising for a free online workshop that anyone can attend – with me being the lead trainer. We got about 300 email leads and about 55 of them actually showed up for the workshop. To be honest, I was worried AF that nobody would show up – that would be embarrassing. I went through the workshop, provided as much value as I can and put in a pitch at the end saying that I’m launching the eCommerce Freedom Masterclass in January next year and that they’ll be able to enjoy an early bird pricing if they sign up today.

30 out of 55 people signed up. And the course wasn’t even ready.

You see, I refused to produce the course before I validated the idea, that would be a royal waste of time.

In hindsight, this benefited my business in two very powerful ways.

1) I know for a fact that there’s a demand for my course
2) I have this pressure to deliver the course to my students

If you know me well enough, you’d know that I’m probably one of the laziest people on this beautiful green earth. Launching a course was an idea that I was sitting on for the past 2 years, and I did not have the drive to produce the course from the ground up because it’s a very time-intensive project. But because of this pre-selling exercise, I have made promises to my future students who trust me. I don’t know about you, but I like keeping my promises. Since I’ve made sales, there’s this pressure to deliver on my promise, and I worked my ass off over the next 4 weeks producing the course and I’m still trying to improve it.

So for all you procrastinating hustlers out there, I feel you. I know I’m no different. This extra drive is usually what it takes to deliver your promise and build your business from the ground up. Just make sure that it’s an achievable promise.

The point that I’m trying to make here is that if you’re starting out your first eCommerce business, go out and start selling. After you’ve made your first sale, embrace the pressure, get comfortable with the uncomfortable, fulfill your promise and watch your business grow.

If you’re looking to get your feet wet with eCommerce, I highly suggest you check out my online workshop (yes, it’s the same one that I used for the pre-launch for the course) and ShopifyShopify is my favourite eCommerce platform out there and has helped me grow beyond the 7 figure annual revenue mark. I know for a fact that it’ll help you understand how to build an eCommerce business. If you’re an experienced eCommerce entrepreneur already, I hope that this post has helped you find some inspiration on how to further improve your business.

Let me know what you think of this post in the comment section down below!



This article is the third part of the “How To Start An Online Business With 0 To Little Capital” series. To read the other parts, check out the links below.

Part 1: How I Started A Million Dollar Online Business With $300
Part 2: How To Start An Affiliate Marketing Business With 0 To Little Capital
Part 4: How To Start An Online Course Business Teaching Your Passion

Wondering how you can start an eCommerce business with just zero to little capital? Check out this 4 part article series to find out more.

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