Things To Think About When Starting a Business
If you are anything like me, you are starting to do more and more of your shopping online. I find the convenience of ordering whatever I need and having it delivered to me outweighs the slight delay in getting what it is I need. Obviously, there are times when I do have to go to shops to get something that is time-dependent, and also sometimes it’s nice just to have a wander around the shops. But more often than not, I’m now shopping online these days.
So if now is the time when more people are shopping online than ever before, perhaps it’s time to think about starting your own ecommerce business? There are plenty of online consumers ready to part with their hard-earned cash for what they want.
If you are mulling over what you should be thinking about when considering starting your own business, here are a few things that you might want to consider.
Offering Something New or Different
Firstly, what does your online business offer that others don’t? I don’t mean you have to offer products that no-one else. Although that is a great way of having a captive audience. What is it about your company that does something different to your competitors? Do you offer excellent customer service? Do you have a niche product that’s hard to find on the high street? Do you offer a key unique selling point that will stand you above your competition? If there’s nothing special about your online business, then why should people buy from you, rather than someone else? It’s important to think about this prior to starting any business.
How Will People Buy From You?
To have an online business, you need to have a website. Or at least some social media which will generate leads for you. Otherwise, you are living in the dark ages and no one will know about you and your business. Setting up a website is quick and simple and there are loads of companies out there who will help you with a simple design and creation of your website. You can be involved as much or as little as you want. But if you want your website to be unique and speak volumes about you, I’d suggest getting hands-on with the creation of your brand assets, particularly your website.
How Will People Know About You?
You need to have a think about your marketing strategy. Lots of small businesses start out from word of mouth and this is great as a low-cost marketing strategy. Most people trust the word of their friend or family member, so this can be ideal for gaining the first few initial customers. But what else can you be doing? There are lots of low-cost options available. Harnessing the power of social media is one of the cheapest ways to advertise your new business and it’s easy to track. Be aware of those selling advertising though. Use your common sense and really think about what you are going to get out of parting with your marketing budget before committing money to an advertising campaign.
How Will You Fulfil Your Customer Orders?
If you’ve ever sold anything on eBay, you’ll know all about the joys of sending out parcels. It can be a bit of a minefield. This is where a parcel comparison service might be a great option for when you need to send a parcel. This is especially useful if you are sending a number of parcels each day. You need to keep an eye on costs, especially in the early days when cashflow might be an issue and shopping around for the best deals on everything is the right thing to do.
You’ll also need to think about whether you offer a returns service. All online businesses need to have a returns policy and it needs to be clear to your customers what your policy is and how they can return unwanted items.
Who Will Do Everything?
This is probably the easy question when you first start out – it’ll probably be you. But do you have any friends who might want some part-time hours once you get up and running? Have you got kind family members who will offer a spare pair of hands for free? You can’t expect free labour forever but people are always willing to help out budding entrepreneurs when they are starting up a new business – just ask. But also know when free labour isn’t on. If you have a business and you need a hand from another people who is also running their own small business, you should consider paying them for their services as they too are trying to make a living. It also shows great respect to their trade if you are willing to pay for their time, rather than expecting it for free.
It’s really important to know your number. Not only things like how much you are making, what’s your margin and how many orders you take a week, but it’s also important to get under the skin of what you are taking home personally and to get the best advice when it comes to taxation. At some point, you’ll want your business to break even and become financially viable and you’ll need to ensure that you are paying the right tax for this. I would suggest drafting in the experts. It can be a minefield. Often paying someone to help you with incomings and outgoings can actually save you money in the long run.
Whatever business you decide to set up, it’s important that you look at any legal implications. What do you have to comply with, by law? Is there anything specific to the industry you have chosen or is it just ecommerce businesses in general? It’s important to research this, so you don’t get caught out with big fines further down the line.
Is this going to be your only form of income? If so, you’ll need a backup plan should your business not make money straight away. And let’s be honest with ourselves, most businesses don’t make money straight away and even if they do it may not be comparable to the salary you were earning beforehand. Can you do your business and keep your job as a bit of security, whilst you build up your business? As you ramp up your business, can you reduce your hours at your job and play it safe that way? Always worth asking the question. This wouldn’t be appropriate if your new business was in competition with your employer. Use your common sense and also check your contract for any clauses about this.
What other things do you believe should be top of the agenda when it comes to starting a new business? These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new ventures and the advice you can get. What would you add?
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Disclosure: This is a collaborative post with Parcel2Go