Do you dream of starting a business? Modern technology helps bring entrepreneurship within your reach. Social media and eCommerce make it easier than ever to launch an online store or share your website with others. Free and low-cost solutions let you build a site and accept payments without having to write any computer code.
Here are some considerations when getting started:
Planning Your Business
Successful businesses begin with innovative ideas. Have an eye for design? Become a freelance graphic or web designer. Love vintage clothing or electronics? Open an eBay or Etsy store. Have a pet peeve? By solving everyday problems, your business idea helps others while also helping you.
One way to set yourself up for failure is to start a business without a plan. Luckily, business plans aren’t as daunting as they sound. The Small Business Association provides multiple formats and examples you can follow. If you’re looking for a simple, one-page template, this visual tool helps you choose a business model and design your business plan.
Do You Need an Online Store?
Although many people believe they can start a business without a website, that’s not the case. Because nearly 90% of people find businesses through search engines and social media, every business needs a website. Depending upon your niche, an online store could help you drive sales, reach prospective customers, and spread the word about your products and services.
According to Peter Roesler, a web marketer, not all businesses need to sell products or services over the internet. For instance, Roesler says, a “home builder can’t sell homes directly through a website,” but for most other businesses, an online store is an opportunity “to get an advantage over the competition.” Because only 1 in 4 companies have online stores, eCommerce helps you stay ahead in your industry.
You’ve developed an innovative solution to your customers’ problems, and you’ve built a business plan. Now, you’re ready to start designing your online store. At a minimum, your eCommerce site should include a compelling homepage, a product comparison and/or photo gallery, buttons that add products to a shopping cart, and a fast, secure way to accept payments. Affordable, off-the-shelf solutions like Shopify or Wix host your site, handle payments, and let you build the entire site yourself. For a 100% customized solution, spend a little more to hire a professional web designer or developer.
There are countless web hosting companies out there, and choosing the right one is one of the first and most important decisions you’ll make as an entrepreneur. According to Digital.com, here are the features to look for in a hosting company:
- Price. Find a hosting plan that fits your budget. Basic plans start at around $1 to $2 per month, although larger websites might require a more expensive plan.
- Uptime and bandwidth. Unlike free web hosting plans, paid plans guarantee your site stays online at least 99% of the time. This reliability lets customers make purchases without your site crashing.
- Usability. Your site should be easy for customers to navigate and for you to manage. Consider choosing a hosting company that offers an easy-to-use website builder so you can update the site yourself without paying a designer.
- Features. Built-in eCommerce options and marketing solutions will save you time. Your business site should look professional, so pay a few extra dollars to register a custom domain, like yourwebsite.com. In case you run into any issues, find a hosting company with 24/7 customer support.
- Reviews. When comparing hosting companies, read online reviews to find the best company and price for what you need.
Build Your Business
Starting with friends and family, slowly build your clientele, sharing testimonials on your website. Offer discounted services to local businesses, churches, or nonprofits. You’ll help others while gaining experience, and your hard work will grow your business. Whether you’re trying to give back to your community, increase financial freedom, or pursue work you love, entrepreneurship could be the solution. Your online store will help you create a flexible career that will sustain you for years to come.