Before the days of the internet, if you wanted to start a business you had to plop down your life savings and set up a store on the street. This was very risky. What if your location was not ideal or a big corporate chain set up shop across the street? Today you don’t need to save money for decades to start a business. If you understand the essentials of doing business online, you should be able to succeed.
1. Choose the right products
It can be challenging to find a niche product. How can you find a market that isn’t already saturated? One solution is to look at what competitors are doing and figure out how to do it better, faster or cheaper. Another approach is to create a unique product or brand image that differentiates you from other sellers.
When choosing a product niche, it’s best to sell products that you’re knowledgeable or passionate about. If you aren’t passionate about the product, you aren’t going to effectively sell it to customers and have motivation to work on improving the business. It’s also more effective if the product fits your story of who you are or why your family went into business. This creates a brand image that makes customers want to buy from you.
2. Sell on multiple platforms
The quickest and easiest way to start an online business is by using online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. You can get a lot of customer traffic on these platforms, and the setup cost is virtually nothing. One way to reach more potential customers is to sell on various platforms, including:
- Craigslist and other online classified listings pages
3. Low-cost inventory
Becoming an official retailer for popular brands like Apple or Nike can cost a fortune. You don’t need to invest a lot of money in the beginning. There are many ways to source products with very little up-front cost. To get some startup capital, you could begin by selling some things collecting dust in your attic or garage.
Another common practice for new entrepreneurs is to sell second-hand items. Look for dusty treasures at thrift stores, garage sales and clearance isles at big box stores. You could also try out arbitrage or drop shipping, which means you have another business ship the item from their inventory when a customer buys from you.
4. Create your own online store
If you’re ready to invest some time and money to build your brand, having your own ecommerce website has several advantages.
- You have unlimited freedom to create a more tailored brand image.
- You can use various types of marketing and advertising to build your own customer base.
- You can create an email subscriber list that leads to repeat business
- There are no selling limits and restrictions that are imposed by platforms like eBay and Amazon
5. Use fulfillment services
Once your sales volume starts to grow, it will become overwhelming to do everything by yourself. If you’re not ready to rent a warehouse and hire a crew of workers to fulfill your orders, you can send your inventory to a fulfillment warehouse. For example, Amazon offers a program called Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which handles many aspects of your business including storage, packaging, shipping and customer service.
Keep looking for ways to improve your business process and find ways to offer your products to a larger customer base. Be patient in the beginning. Sales may be modest for a while, but if you’re determined, you’ll eventually have the thriving business that you’ve always dreamed of.