I want to start an online business and I have been researching on how to run a business, but being that I little to no experience should I hire someone like a lawyer to help me, if not what should I do?
I’m not sure what kind of business you want to start so I’ll use an online fashion store as an example.
To start an online fashion business with such a specific product you actually don’t need that much capital and a laptop would be more or less enough.
Given the nature of your product I would recommend selling it on Etsy or at Handmade at Amazon. These are the places to start for such a product but I would recommend that you actually read carefully their definition of “handmade”.
There are very specific and simple steps that you need to take in order to achieve this:
1.Name your Shop: You don’t have to obsess or spend too much time on this. My best advice when it comes to anything related to Internet: Be Fast! So just choose something and if you need to change it later you’ll be able to do it.
2.Design your Shop: Pick a design that you enjoy but again, don’t obsess. Keep it simple is the safest bet that you can take now.
3.Photograph your product: Invest a lot of time and energy on this. See how other sellers photograph such objects and try to copy it. Ask people that might know better about photography. They will tell you that you don’t need a professional camera but you can achieve amazing results with almost any camera.
Read a lot and experiment even more. Again, shoot more than 100 different pictures and keep only the best. Probably shoot a few more.
4.Choose a price: This is science and you need to think about it carefully as you expand your business. But for now start by calculating your costs (including Etsy/Amazon fees) and add a modest profit margin, let’s say 50% additional of your costs or 100%. Review your pricing against your competitors pricing. Experiment with pricing.
5.Create a good description: Describe your product in the best possible way. Describe every detail, describe your inspiration, your materials, the process, the packaging, the branding, everything. You are almost ready!
6.Promote it: Post a link on your social media networks and email your friends and ask them to forward it to other people. Create a Facebook page and promote it there. Use Pinterest and YouTube to promote your photographs and even a simple video will help you a lot.
Good luck with it, these are just the first steps, it actually needs continuous improvement on these but more or less these are the steps that you need to follow in order to succeed in selling an online fashion product.
Have you ever heard the story of Nick Swinmurn, founder of Zappos? During the early days of his enterprise, he used to walk around the malls of San Francisco looking to fill client orders because he didn’t have the shoes in stock. I’m guessing even his product images weren’t so great back then.
To open a successful small business, you don’t really need to start big with a bunch of extravagant elements. Here’s what you can do to get started. It’s not so glamorous at the beginning, but these steps will gain you traction:
•Get a logo on 99designs (or forgo the logo for now).
•Create a website (choose from tons of templates via the web, e.g. Shopping Cart & Ecommerce Software Solution | Bigcommerce).
•Use your (or a friend’s) professional camera to capture clear images of your product.
•Sell it on Amazon (make sure you check out and meet their image guidelines).
•When you ship the product, attach a small sticker with your website address to get customers to check out your other products.
•Create social media pages for your brand.
•You can blog about what you do. There are always issues in your trade you can write about and thereby create value within the community.
•Perform some SEO to up your site’s rank on various search engines.
•Advertise in local pages to gain traction with a loyal user base.
•Start rebranding, customize your site, tweak your logo, provide better images, etc.
These basic steps may seem harder or easier than you thought. It all depends on you!
I’ll give the 4 simple steps that you actually NEED to take in order to start a business online:
Step 1: Decide what this online business is going to be. You don’t clarify what you want to start so it might be any of the following:
•an e-commerce business (might be an international business, might be a local business, with just one product or 100.000).
•a blog/news site that will create you revenue from advertising
•a software as a service (SAAS) business
•a services business (anything from fiverr up to UBER).
These are all different directions that you can take with a business online and you can create amazing things with any of these. Just decide what you want to do. You indicated topics “Small Business” and “E-commerce” so I’ll continue the discussion with these in mind.
Step 2: Start building your business. Now, you might wonder if you need to form a legal entity, or write a business plan or get funding but actually you don’t need any of these in order to start. All you need is a product and customer. That’s it. Anything else takes your energy and focus away from building your actual business. Again, in order to do business all you need a product and a customer. This is the point that you work on the product part.
I really can’t help you with your product, you probably have something in mind already, if you don’t have a look around at the most successful businesses that you can find and get inspiration from them. Don’t try to sell electric cars if you don’t know what they are and how they are made and how you can support your customers but I’m rather sure that there are hundreds of thousands of products that you feel comfortable selling.
Step 3: Do the “online” part of the business: Setup a website or use the likes of shopify.com or http://Gumroad.com. This is a bit technical and you’ll need some skills on photography and product description but it is not rocket science.
Step 4: Find the customers: This is the online marketing part. Your best bet for immediate results are social media. If you want to make it a 10 Million USD business you’ll have to expand in other areas of online marketing but until then you can achieve wonders with social media. Create good content that other people like and eventually they will buy from you.
At this point you have an online business and it might be something less than a few days work and no special skills needed. If you want to compete with Amazon you have to do loads more but for the most part, the previous 4 steps will be enough to get you started. Good luck with your new online business!
P.S. Don’t forget to be legal, In most countries you’ll probably have to form the legal entity before you actually make the sale. Not everywhere though, so check your local laws.
DEVELOPING STARTUP IDEAS
The foundation of every profitable business is based on choosing the right product or service to sell. Entrepreneurs often find themselves in one of two positions:
1) They want to start a business, but struggle to come up with that “perfect idea” to launch; or
2) they think of one idea and decide to launch without fully evaluating the idea’s potential. When thinking of products or services, it’s always best to start with the ideas you already have. Maybe it’s an idea you have had for years, or it exists in a partially constructed business plan somewhere. These ideas are as valid as searching for new ideas on the internet.
I can’t tell you the perfect product to create, but I can help guide you in the right direction.
Choosing a Startup Idea
Pick a business where you can add value. This is the most important criterion when selecting a product or service, and you’ll be hard-pressed to succeed without meeting this guideline.
If you’re selling a physical good, such as hair, that someone else has already manufactured, you’re really selling a commodity that a customer can likely purchase from hundreds of other locations, both in person and online.
Why should the customer choose your product? If you’re selling a service, like hairstyles, how is your service differentiated from others and why should a client trust you? What value do you individually add that no one else can add in the industry? You need a clear differentiating factor based on a client need in order to be successful.
1) Sell Something That You’re Knowledgeable about
Starting a business is one of the most difficult undertakings in your life, so it’s important to find something you enjoy. You will end up spending a significant amount of time developing, launching and growing your business, so pick something you enjoy doing.
Ask yourself these questions:
“What are my special skills or experiences?”
“What are my hobbies, extra-curricular, non-vocational interests?”
“Do people sometimes seek my advice on some subjects?”
“How much do I know about my products?”
“Who is naturally drawn to my interests or to my lifestyle?”
“What information do I possess that other people are seeking?”
“Who is beginning on a path that I have successfully walked myself?”
“Whose concerns can I reliably anticipate to address their needs?”
2) Solve A Problem
Every successful product solves a particular problem, and solves it well. Subway solves the functional benefit of providing sandwiches that satisfy a person’s hunger. A movie theater solves the emotional benefit of providing entertainment while passing time. Hair salons provide its customers with a fresh look they can give upon the world.
This is popularly referred to as the “job-to-be-done” for the consumer. Your product should do a particular job, functional or emotional, for a consumer and do it well. Identifying the job-to be-done comes from observing people, understanding what jobs they want or need, then uncovering how a product or service can do that job for them.
Example: Shipbob founder Divey Gulati recognized that one of the hardest parts of selling your stuff online was actually shipping it out. He created a business that takes the hassle out of the process by picking up, packaging, and shipping your items for you saving time and money.
3) Identify Consumer Trends
A great place to start your search for product ideas is to look at some top consumer product trend publications. Following trend publications is a great way to begin getting a sense of the direction consumer products are going and the ideas other entrepreneurs are introducing to the market.
Following these publications can also expose you to new product categories and industries that you previously didn’t know about. Following what’s trending can help you to dream up new goods, services and experiences for your online business.
If they gave you a lousy raise, why would you think they’d make a counter offer to keep you?
For reasons I only sort of understand, sysadmins as a group seems to care way too much about their environment they administer, think they’re invaluable to the company and assume they’re right on the cusp of getting all the recognition and recompense they deserve.
I’ve seen this over and over for the last 25 years and it is amazingly common.
In my entire department, I can only think of one person who I’d consider invaluable. It’d take me a coupla weeks to replace him. As good as the rest are, replacing them would be a few phone calls and we’d move on as a business.
In short, if your company isn’t working to keep you, they don’t consider you invaluable. If you’re not happy, find something better and move on.