I have started, or attempted to start, many businesses in my lifetime. The only one that has ever enjoyed any measure of success is my “consulting” business, where I provide computer support for businesses that friends own. That alone doesn’t pay my bills. I’ve always wanted to start a hosting company, providing website and server hosting for the general public, but I’ve never been able to make the numbers work out the way I need. Either the plans would have to be too expensive to be worth it for anyone, or the business would basically have no way of making money. I’ve learned a lot working for a hosting company over the last five years, but the main takeaway is the only real way to make money in this business is to own your hardware.
This has always been the sticking point; do I get a dedicated server and use that for hosting, or do I try and purchase an affordable (read: old) server and colocate that somewhere. Both have their ups and downs when you are working at small scale. A dedicated server is going to be more expensive monthly, but you are likely going to get new (or relatively new) hardware. A server you own will be less month to month (still have to pay colocation fees which can end up being close to what a dedicated server costs if you are just doing one), but you also have that capital expense up front. Not to mention the responsibility of replacing things when they break; that is the nicer thing about a dedicated server. The place you rent from will fix it if it breaks. This is not to say you aren’t responsible for your data, ALWAYS HAVE BACKUPS!
The other sticking point on something like this is how to get the word out. Sure, you can make a post on (WHT)[webhostingtalk.com] or (LowEndBox)[lowendbox.com], but that is more likely to get you scorn than clients. There will certainly be one or two people that check you out just to do it, or because they run a web hosting rating site or something, but you aren’t going to build your core audience there. That is going to take some form of advertising; you know, the stuff everyone hates and never clicks on. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, whatever, this is the place you need to be to get your business rolling. But how? There are tons of people on UpWork and Fiverr that will “Create an AWESOME marketing plan for your business!”, but where do you go from there? I’m half-tempted to just pay one of them the $40 or whatever and see what they come up with.
Who knows, maybe it will be marketing gold after all!