Everyone wants to start an online eCommerce business right? But how many people actually have any idea of how to determine if they should start one or not before they just jump in?
There are some simple things to consider to determine if starting an eCommerce business is right for you. Take five minutes and get your answer by reading below.
Reasons to Start an eCommerce Business
- Be Your Own Boss
- Be Able to Live Anywhere You Want To
- eCommerce Sales Are Growing Rapidly Each Year
- Worldwide eCommerce Sales are Estimated by some to be Almost $5 Trillion in 2021
- Low Cost and Easy to Start
- Estimates that 80% of the Population Have Made an eCommerce Purchase
- Brick & Mortar Stores are Closing at a High Rate
- Easy to Scale to a Potential Worldwide Audience
- All You Need is a Computer and Internet Access
With so many uncertainties in the world right now you may find yourself looking for alternative ways to make money that allow you to work from home.
Online businesses have been rapidly increasing since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is due to many reasons but primarily because you can work from home or anywhere you have a computer and access to the internet.
Ok, sure lots of people are doing it but you are reading this because you have been asking yourself the question, “Should I Start an eCommerce business?”
Five Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before You Start an eCommerce Business
- Do you like working on the computer for hours at a time? If not, then you should not even consider an online eCommerce business. Spending many lonely hours on the computer is a BIG part of running any online business.
Spending many hours researching, building product listings, and creating Facebook and Google ads is also a large part of running an eCommerce business or store.
- Are you kind of technical and have some computer skills? If not, then you should probably not try to start an eCommerce business. You have to be a little techy!
An exception could be if you like to learn. If you don’t mind spending many hours learning the technical skills that are required to be in the eCommerce business then maybe you will be ok giving it a try.
TRY THIS! Pick one subject area, such as “How to build a WordPress Website” and spend some time learning it before you actually decide if you are going to start the online business. Test the waters and see if you like it.
- Do you have the available free time to actually work the business on a daily basis?
Count on spending at least two to three hours a day on your business at a minimum. Be honest. If you don’t have that amount of time OR don’t want to give up your spare time to devote to it then maybe you should not try.
Maybe going to the beach, taking long walks each night or something else is more important to you. Be honest with yourself and your family.
Many internet business owners spend so many hours working on their projects that family life suffers. Internet businesses are never “finished”.
There is ALWAYS more work to be done as you try to improve, no matter what level of success you achieve.
- Do you have some extra money to spend on your ecommerce startup business?
Starting an eCommerce business does not have to be expensive but you will have to spend some money on things such as a website and advertising of some type to get going.
- Do you have the right mindset that you will be in this for the long haul? Are you ok with that? Can you accept the fact that it WILL be very slow going as you start and build up?
Nothing good is easy and starting and maintaining a successful eCommerce business is no different. It will be difficult, to say the least. Are you really ok with this?
In fact, it may be harder than a traditional brick and mortar type business where you have people coming in your store just because you are there.
No one will find you on the internet just by showing up. There are almost two billion websites out there according to HostingTribunal.com and according to them, thousands of new websites will be formed before you even finish reading this post! How about those apples!
Getting people to your eCommerce store is the biggest challenge for an online marketer. People will not show up just because you ‘built it’ Ray.
This will take time. It may take a LONG time. You will not magically just see sales. You have to understand that it may take months to earn a profit, if ever.
And even if you start to become profitable you have to keep working hard to have your success continue on a regular basis. Remember, if it were easy everyone would be doing it?
So how did you do with the questions? Did you take them seriously? What do your answers tell you? Take your time.
Take a piece of paper and write down your answers to all five of those questions. Do this more than once. Do it multiple times!
Take a few days and each day pull out a new sheet of paper and answer the questions again. Then go back and compare your previous answers. Are they the same?
Maybe your answers will change with a little time and some additional thought and perspective.
After about a week come up with your decision. Usually, by then you will know. It will be very clear to you if you should proceed or not.
If you decided not to move forward with an eCommerce business that is OK. You can stop reading now and go do something more meaningful with your time.
BUT if you decided, “Yes”, I want to do this then continue reading for the next critical steps…
Critical Steps to Starting an eCommerce Business
First, decide what type of eCommerce business model you want to start. There are many choices and you need to choose wisely.
Types of eCommerce Business Models
- Selling digital products that you create yourself such as an ebook or ‘how-to’ document.
- Selling physical products that you purchase, inventory, and ship yourself.
- Selling physical products that you have drop-shipped from the manufacturer so you don’t inventory items. (wholesale)
- Selling print on demand (POD) items such as T-shirts, coffee mugs, and costume jewelry.
- Selling your services to people and/or businesses.
Let’s explore each option a little deeper to help you decide which eCommerce business model may be the best fit for you.
Selling Digital Products:
If you have certain expert knowledge that others may find valuable you could package it up as an ebook, PDF document, or even a course. This can then be sold via a website or landing page. When someone purchases your product they can immediately download the product.
A WordPress website is a great platform for this or even just a single landing page you can create with software such as ClickFunnels or SamCart.
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This model has very high-profit margins. It also does not require a lot of time once you create the digital product as technology can automatically deliver it to the purchaser.
Selling Physical Products (that you inventory yourself):
Be careful if you choose this model! There can be substantial risk involved with buying and warehousing physical products. Plus a lot of work!
When someone places an order you will have to package up the item and ship it yourself.
Profit margins are generally in the 25 to 40% range for physical products you inventory and ship yourself.
While this may sound doable and fun if you really scale your business up you will probably need to hire employees to help process the orders as well as the returns and other customer service issues that inevitably happen.
Then there is the risk of inventory that you will never sell that sits there forever until you give up hope on it. Many businesses end up seeing their profits ‘sit’ in the inventory they never sell for one reason or another.
Selling physical products that you have drop shipped:
This can be a more appealing and less risky method of selling physical products. But it usually comes with a lower profit margin than when you inventory items yourself.
Another negative is that you are not in full control of your customer’s experience as you don’t ship the product. You are at the mercy of your supplier shipping for you.
Not many people are successful long-term dropshipping products but it is possible. An example is a large company you may have heard of called Wayfair. According to reports, Wayfair has over 10,000 suppliers and dropship 95% of their products.
Selling print on demand (POD) items:
Print on Demand (POD) items is probably where most small eCommerce business owners start. Why? Because it is easy!
You don’t have to inventory anything! You only need limited technical skills to begin. You don’t have to even ship the product. The POD company creates and ships it for you! Talk about a hands off business model!
Also, you “could” start a POD eCommerce business with zero money if you use one of the supplier’s platforms. All you need to do is dream up a design that would then be printed on a T-shirt, coffee mug, or piece of jewelry.
Perhaps the biggest risk with this type of eCommerce business model is picking a Print on Demand (POD) supplier that is reliable.
There are so many POD suppliers and they are NOT all the same!
We have dealt with them all so if you want the inside scoop on who is best and why just send us a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask. Put “POD Supplier” in the subject line.
Many POD companies will also provide a free website platform for you to sell their products on. Pretty cool huh? You can be in business in about five minutes!
One additional word of caution with this model. Many, many people “dabble” in this business because it is so easy to start. This means it can be difficult to make any real money because the competition is so high.
When people get desperate for sales they often reduce their prices so low it drives profitability down for others. Sometimes they will even sell below cost and lose money just to make a sale.
Yes, there are some who do very well and are highly profitable but the vast majority of POD business owners never make any money. Something to think about before you put too much effort into it.
Selling your Services to People and/or Businesses:
Maybe you have special skills like being a website designer, graphics artist, you know how to create videos, you are a social media guru or you are an expert in accounting. It is possible you could sell these skills and make a good business of it.
Is that really an eCommerce business? Maybe, maybe not, but most people who do this type of business model utilize a website and other online platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and others to find their clients and manage them. So it fits into the making money online business model.
Develop a Plan of Action to Launch Your eCommerce Business
Once you have chosen the type of eCommerce business you want to start now you need to develop a plan of action to make it happen.
Probably no one enjoys creating a business plan but it really is an important step to your long-term success. So we will just call it a plan of action.
There are many different methods and techniques to get your eCommerce business started but let’s keep it very simple.
- State your business concept. What is your mission? Write it down. An example could be “Sell T-shirts with my custom designs using a POD supplier.”
- State your target market. An example could be “females, ages 30-50 who own and ride horses”.
- What platform will you set up to sell your items? WordPress website, Hosted solution, etc.
- How will you find your customers? Facebook ads? Word of mouth? Social media?
- How much money do you need to get started and how much money do you need for the first three months if you don’t sell anything? Website hosting, ads, product costs, etc.
- Set a date to start and be ‘open for business.”
- Will you form a corporation for your new business or just use a ‘doing business as’ name?
- Do you have a bank account and credit card ready to go you can use?
- If you can’t do all the things you need to get done have you lined up someone to help you?
- Write down the small steps you need to do each day as you approach your ‘open for business’ date.
If you read this far you now have a good foundation to build on and answering your question of “Should You Start an Ecommerce Business.”
Just remember, any business is a struggle. If it were easy, everyone would do it. The fact is most people who try to start an eCommerce business fail.
But don’t let that discourage you if you really want to do it. Use that fact as motivation and go into it for the long haul with a “failure is not an option” mentality.
Also, if you want some help with starting your eCommerce business feel free to reach out to us. We have helped many people start businesses and achieve success.
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