Who doesn’t want the freedom of running their own business and being their own business? Thanks to the internet there are now more business owners than ever; with everyone from marketing experts to cupcake bakers selling their products and services online. If you’re considering setting up your own online business, but don’t know where to start, then follow these 5 simple steps.
Step 1: Inspiration and Ideas
Before you start looking into opening that online shop, you need to decide what you’re actually going to sell. This can be the hardest part for those who don’t have a particular hobby or interest, or blindingly obvious for those with a passion. For example, those who love knitting can easily turn that hobby into a business online. Those who are stuck for ideas should think outside of the box and do some research into what is popular. You can sell pretty much anything online, as long as the law says it is okay. Taboo products are fine, such as adult toys and even 9mm ammunition, just make sure that you understand the rules and regulations around selling these products. Stuck for ideas? Make yourself a spider diagram and list everything you can think of, before crossing out the definite ‘no-nos’ and expanding on the ‘maybes’.
Step 2: Getting the Stock
Once you have decided exactly what it is you’re going to sell, it is then time to get some stock. If you’re planning on making the products yourself then this shouldn’t be too difficult a task, especially if you’re selling something you have a passion for. If you want to sell items manufactured by someone else then you need to start looking for wholesalers. It can be difficult to find a list of reputable wholesalers, especially as everyone seems to want to charge you for access, so make some calls and visit some stockists in order to find the one that is right for you.
Step 3: Setting up Shop
Next up, you need to set up a website from which to sell your products. There are a wide range of companies that provide e-commerce solutions, so be prepared to do some research. Depending on your level of experience with technology you may be able to do some of the work yourself. Alternatively, hand over the whole task to someone who is an expert in web design, hosting and e-commerce. You will also need to decide on payment gateways (PayPal is one of the most popular) and security for your site.
Step 4: Content
You should now have a fully functioning website; that probably looks quite empty. It’s time to put those products online and create some incredible content. To start with, focus on your product descriptions, the home page, an about us page and any terms pages (shipping, refunds, disclaimers). Once these pages are looking good you can then move onto more in-depth content, including blog posts and buying guides. The more high quality content you have before launch, the better. However, don’t spend months trying to build up awesome content before you’ve launched, else you’ll end up losing money.
Step 5: The Big Launch
Your website is looking great, all of the products online and there’s a fair amount of high quality content for your potential customers to enjoy. Now, it’s time for the launch. Try to market the opening of your online shop using different avenues; social media, press releases, blog posts and offline marketing such as leaflets and posters. Set a date for the launch and double check with your web developer that you’ll be 100% ready to go by this point, and that they’re happy to help you on the big day. Now, open up shop! Hopefully, the marketing you’ve done beforehand will draw some attention in and you may even see some sales on your first day.
Remember, setting up an online store can take time and money; it’s not something that many people can do on a whim. Plenty of preparation is the key if you want to be a success in any business. It can take time to see sales coming in, also, so don’t lose hope if your first few weeks aren’t profitable. Good luck!