Starting from scratch: build a business with a tiny budget

On May 13, 2014

shirtYou don’t have to be a big shot or have a big wallet to have a great website and online presence. You can implement your idea and start an online store in minutes without busting the piggy bank or eating ramen noodles morning, noon, and night. Simple solutions are right at your fingertips to help you build your brand, get the word out, and make sure that you get it right with functionality for front and back of the store. If you have a little time, a little money, and a little patience to invest, your efforts can pay off in a big way.

What’s Your Deal?

For the novice, eCommerce is one of the best bets for starting a business. Sit down and think about whether you want to manufacture your own products, either by handcrafting or outsourcing your idea for manufacture, or if you want to retail someone else’s products that you find appealing. Do you want to offer physical products that need shipping to your customer, or do you have a great digital product like needlepoint patterns, publications, or music that can be downloaded? Will you source your products from online wholesalers, import via trade gateways like AliBaba, or visit trade shows? There are an amazing amount of options when it comes to eCommerce, such as never actually having the merchandise to handle at all. With options like dropshipping or remote warehousing someone else stocks, maintains, pulls, and ships the product without you being there.

Know What Sells

According to Statistic Brain’s most recent data, the top ten bestselling internet products are as follows:

  1. Women’s Apparel
  2. Books
  3. Computer Hardware
  4. Computer Software
  5. Apparel
  6. Toys / Video Games
  7. Video DVD’s
  8. Health and Beauty
  9. Consumer Electronics
  10. Music

That’s not to say that items outside of those categories won’t move, or that these items are part of a saturated market. Any niche market can be lucrative, even outside the top ten, or even outside of the top twenty. Don’t let the lack of a number hold you back from doing something new and innovative.

Getting to Opening Day

Starting an online store doesn’t need a staff or a team of experts into order to get you going. All it takes is a little search engine surfing to find eCommerce websites ready to go out of the box. Offering website templates, plugins, payment gateways, loyalty programs and in some cases even products and affiliate marketing programs, eCommerce maketing companies offer small startups businesses a way to access services and perks formerly available only to big budget players. Never underestimate the value of “easy” when you’re starting your business, with so much to do ringing up a few easies like going with templates or integrating your bookkeeping software with your site can give you time to spare and breathing room when the inevitable problems arise.

Grab Those Eyeballs!

When you’re designing your website, keep it simple. Take into account that according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the U.S. National Library of medicine, the average attention span in 2013 was eight seconds. An eight second attention span is one second shorter than that of a goldfish. You have to get those eyeballs to tell the brain that this is something worth sticking around for, instead of reading 28 percent of the page before clicking onward without a backward glance.

A professionally designed template will load faster, and allow you to plug in your graphics and photography so that your products can take center stage, instead of the little spinning icon as the page loads. Let’s face it, your customers are much more interested in finding and getting what they’re looking for than they are in your creative suite cred.

Make Everyone Welcome reported an eye-popping 18.7 percent growth in eCommerce sales, and highlighted the growth of the mobile device user in the exploding growth of eCommerce. As tablets and smartphones invade the market, the laptop and the desktop are still in the game, but the online revenue attributable to mobile shoppers boomed to 47 percent. Designing a website in anticipation of nearly half of all traffic to the retailer’s digital door is only practical. Factoring in the coming generational shift from an Internet of places – accessing the Internet from home, or office, or Starbucks – to an Internet of things like tablets and mobile phones.

With 58 percent of American adults owning a smartphone, and 42 percent owning a tablet computer, according to Pew Research, the demand for mobile friendly online retail is taking off.

Social Media and You

Often derided as the ‘Selfie Generation’, “the Millennials” and “Technative” generations are also the “Social Media Generation“. With 75 percent of online adults using Facebook, or other social platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, and Snapchat, the promotion possibilities are infinite. Developing a following for your products and your site means that word of mouth can move faster than your mobile’s onboard camera shutter. Blogging and interacting with your customers personalizes and adds a human aspect that can be missing from the impersonal visit to the ubiquitous mall brand stores or the impersonal efficiency and algorithmic sterility of larger online retailers.