Times are tough, money is tight, and starting your own new business takes an iron gut. However advancements in the technological landscape mean everything from raising money to finding staff to getting the word out about your business has evolved. Here's some great ways the web can help you start a business with practically nothing besides a good idea.
Market your business for nothing
Absolutely no surprise here: Social networks are where all the action is in the world of low-budget marketing. But updating a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account doesn't have to be a time sink. Though you still need them all, now you can easily link them together.
Starting with your blog, Facebook can now (finally) automatically pull content from it and repost on your business Fan Page. Start by going to your business's Page (I assume that you have one already), and click Use Facebook as your business. Then search for NetworkedBlogs to find the app, and click Register a Blog. Follow the prompts to integrate your blog - or any other blog - with your Facebook Page.
If you use WordPress, you can automatically tweet your posts to your followers using any number of plug-ins (WP to Twitter usually works well). With both of these set up, you can blog once and have the message automatically appear in three places. Best of all, if you use WordPress's hosting service, none of this will cost you a penny. Of course, if none of this works, you can always turn to AdWords.
Run your office for (almost) free
Even if you're stuck with a lease, desks, and employees milling about, you can still save on the costs required to keep an office up and running. Telecommunication costs are a perennial back-breaker, especially if you do business overseas.
Fortunately, Skype is reasonably reliable and has become a de facto standard for international communications; mobile versions let you use the service from just about any smart phone. Need more features? US users can check out Google Voice. Sign employees up for a free account for business use, and then let them forward calls to their own mobile phones (and get transcribed messages as email).