E-commerce has become more lucrative as more people turn to the Internet for their shopping needs. As a result, even the most traditional businesses have set up websites and begun launching e-commerce operations to complement their offline revenue-producing activities. However, modern entrepreneurs have also popularized start-ups that focus their attentions on the Internet, with little to no offline presence. Such businesses are advantageous because they are easier to set up, require less start-up capital, and pose less risk to the financial wellbeing of the entrepreneur.
If you are interested in starting up an e-commerce business, here are the steps needed to do so:
First, entrepreneurs need to find something they can provide that has a potential customer base. Using the Internet and other sources, entrepreneurs need to research production methods, distribution channels, marketing methods, and all other topics related to the business of selling that product or service. Entrepreneurs who have no clue where to start should examine the practices of established businesses selling the same product or service. See what practices work for those businesses and whether those practices can be applied in the entrepreneurs’ circumstances.
Once entrepreneurs have conducted their research and determined that there is profit to be made, they need to begin planning their start-ups and pulling together the resources needed to do so. Having a plan in place helps guide entrepreneurs to their dreams and keep them on schedule. Although e-commerce businesses require less capital than their offline counterparts, having plentiful capital is still important to ensuring their success. Having a well-thought-out plan with supporting research is important in being able to borrow capital from a financial institution.
Although e-commerce businesses have little to no offline presence, entrepreneurs still need to register their businesses with local government. Once that is done, entrepreneurs can get around to setting up the website and arranging for the services needed to make their businesses run. Examples range from choosing the right web hosting server to getting access to a merchant account so that the business can accept card-based payments. In general, entrepreneurs should take care to choose service providers offering services suited to their current circumstances but also capable of supporting their future expansion.
Since e-commerce businesses are based on the Internet, most of their marketing promotions are also going to be Internet-based. Most methods are either active and passive. Active marketing sees the entrepreneur take an active hand in pushing the business using email, social media, and other means of communication. In contrast, the entrepreneur can also build an online presence that is designed to appeal and attract customers. Most businesses should use a combination of both approaches to complement one another. For example, advertising should serve to bring readers to the business’s website where they can be provided with more information.
After setting up their e-commerce businesses, entrepreneurs still need to collect and compile information about their performance. Examples include creating cash flow statements to gauge their solvency and collecting web statistics using tools such as Google Webmaster to research visitor usage habits. Over time, entrepreneurs should use this information to guide their policies.
No business stands alone. E-commerce entrepreneurs should never hesitate to consult the experts for help with matters outside of their fields of expertise. For example, entrepreneurs should contact local accounting firms if they do not understand how to record their activities and produce financial statements.
Yogesh Mankani has extensive experience as a business software consultant. He is always at new ways that software can improve business processes and he enjoys sharing his findings on business blogs. Visit Ordoro.com for more software solutions for your business.