By Dean Burgos
Moms, retirees, and those with a mind for entrepreneurship open new businesses every day. Many of these have found that they can sell their artwork, crafts, and other handmade items online. Others are skipping the hands-on part and choosing strategic drop-shipping, which puts products on their site without a physical inventory. If you’re ready to make your own mark in the world of eCommerce, here’s how to get started.
First, you’ll want to be prepared to launch. This starts by knowing what to sell. If you can find an unfilled need and meet it, you’ll have a better chance of capturing a niche market. Even if you don’t have a specific item in mind, you still have to know what you’ll sell before you go live.
Next, make sure your technology can keep up with an online store. If you are only using a clunky old laptop from 2010, it’s time to upgrade to a new model that can handle the apps and services you’ll need to get up and running. Likewise, change to a “business unlimited” data plan for your phone and tablet. You will need to work remotely at times and handling your site away from a WiFi connection can get pricey quick if you’re limited. If you don’t have a brick-and-mortar location, your smartphone will also serve as your business line.
Now it’s time to really get started. First, choose a domain name. Wizard Site writer Christopher Heng notes that you can do this through a domain registrar like GoDaddy. GoDaddy and other similar companies can also host your site, and will often offer to give you a “Coming Soon” page for free while you decide on how to design your site.
You have options when it comes to getting your site online. The first is to use a website builder tool, which is usually available through your domain registrar or hosting company. These have limitations, however, and offer very little room for customization. If your future goals include expansion and a more robust website, it might be wiser to hire an e-commerce developer who can ensure the back-end framework is in place so that you can make changes with ease.
When your website is published, it’s ready to start making you money. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to link your site to a payment processing service and your accounting software. Many small businesses use QuickBooks for accounting because it integrates with most of the big payment processing companies. It’s also relatively inexpensive and offers discounted rates once you reach $7,500 per month in sales.
Obviously, your products must be posted on your website. But more than that, once you are up and running, you will have to pay close attention to your marketing strategy. This should include, at minimum, producing usable content, such as how-to guides. You can also utilize social media, email marketing, and search engine optimization to market your business.
A final thought is to make sure that you keep up with your profits, losses, and customer satisfaction ratings. While this might seem like a no-brainer, it is very easy to get so caught up in the excitement of starting a new business that you forget to focus on fundamentals.
Take your time before deciding to launch on business. However, know that when you do, you can literally be up and running within a matter of hours. If you want it to be successful, however, you will pay close attention every step of the way and make sure that you have systems and processes in place that allow for unencumbered growth.
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