Being online as a business is no longer an option – it is a requirement if your product is to meet your consumers where they are.

The good news is that the growth in technology has made it so easy to be online, you can practically start and run your business for free.

Over 92% of South African adults own cellphones, of which 69% are smartphones. The average user of a smartphone spends over three hours a day on the Internet and a further two hours on social media – making online a worthwhile space to meet the consumer.

Mags Ponnan, Head of the Business Incubator & Customer Value Propositions at FNB Business, shares a basic cost-effective toolkit your business can implement.

READ MORE: How to be part of the mobile e-commerce boom

Business registration

The relationship between FNB and the CIPC allows entrepreneurs to apply and launch their business through a bank (applying for a business account at the same time) has been extended to all banks, making it easy to do this from the comfort of your own home.


You can buy a domain name from as little as R79 and host a site for R45 per month – these usually come with an email linked to the domain.

If you don’t have that sort of money, you can use free online platforms that allow you to build and run a website for free.


Social media platforms are free of charge. Pair that up with apps that allow you to call, message, and conference for next to nothing and you are able to be in contact with clients online while keeping your operating costs for business communications to a minimum.


The rise in digital has allowed for affordable and targeted advertising at a fraction of what you would pay for TV, radio or print.

Just R500-R2 000 could buy 1 000 impressions on a busy website, far less then what you would pay for targeted campaigns on platforms such as Facebook.  The trick is to redirect the customer to your home website and ensure that the sign-up process is simple.

READ MORE: E-volving e-commerce

Online payment gateways

There are numerous payment gateways that can be linked to your website to sell your product online; the cost per transaction is also very affordable.

Accounting services

There are a number of cost-effective payroll and accounting  solutions available on the market for small business-owners.

“The use of digital enables a business to drastically reduce the cost of operating by taking away the administration angst and reaching a greater number of entrepreneurs over a wider geographical area, which in turn frees you up to spend time fine-tuning your business offering,” Ponnan says.