An online store can be a great way to launch your entrepreneurial mission, especially if you’re new to running a business. Online stores function much like brick and mortar locations, but usually have a bit less overhead and can be a little more self-sufficient. If you’re thinking of starting an online store, here are six things you’ll want to do.
1. Choose the Right Payment Processing
PayPal is still one of the top ways people pay for online products and services, but it’s not the only way. With so many payment options available in our modern world, you’ll want to be sure that your payment processing software can accept a wide variety; giving you access to a larger customer base.
The right payment processing platform will provide you with a simple and secure way to exchange money with your customers; and you can be sure that they’ll appreciate security when it comes to their money. Many modern POS systems are a good choice for online retailers. POS systems can help you organize inventory, create customer profiles, and even send promotional materials, all while safely processing all manner of payment methods.
POS systems can be acquired on a per-transaction basis or even a monthly premium. The provider will dictate which payment structure you’ll get, so be sure to pick one that will fit your monthly budget. If you’re moving a lot of inventory, you’ll probably want to choose a monthly premium plan as opposed to per-transaction POS’s.
2. Find the Right Designer for Your Site
Having the right designer can make all the difference to a new website. You don’t want to try to design your e-commerce site by yourself. As great as sites like Wix are for creating personal websites, you simply can’t match the expertise of a professional web designer. If you don’t design websites for a living, you simply can’t hope to match what a professional designer can do for your website.
Customers will appreciate a well-designed site as well. With fewer errors, crashes, and other issues, your customers will stay engaged and follow through with their shopping cart items. It’s very frustrating when you’re shopping online, and the website keeps crashing or doesn’t load quickly at all. Not to mention, the more customized your site is, the better it will reinforce your brand recognition; it will be entirely yours.
Don’t settle for less when it comes to your site design. Yes, you will have to invest some extra money into a quality web designer, but trust us when we say that it is well worth the money.
3. Have a Plan in Place
Always, always, always plan ahead for any business. You should start with a business plan complete with all of your market and other research, including projected expenses and profits, etc. Not having a plan can leave you dead in the water when unforeseen circumstances arise.
Make no mistake, you will run into roadblocks and obstacles during your time as a business owner. It’s pretty much inevitable, as running a business carries many risks along with its benefits. Braving the risks and pushing forward is always easier when you have a plan in place.
It’s a good idea to have a savings account of some kind on hand for any expenses that should come up which aren’t covered in your business plans. A warehouse could catch fire, legal issues could arise; these are all things you’ll want to have some extra cash on hand for.
If you’re not great with finances and feel you should get some help to create a more solid plan, you can hire a financial advisor to assist you. You can compare the best financial advisors in San Francisco on Carefulcents.com.
4. Know Your Audience
What’s the best way to ensure you’re reaching the right people? Know your audience. Market research can help you better understand your customers and potential audience; giving you better insight into what your customers want out of the products they buy.
Once you know your audience, you’ll know how to market your products to them. Better understanding is absolutely priceless when it comes to your marketing efforts. The more you know your customers, the more effective your campaigns will be.
5. Budget Your Finances
Be sure to create a budget for any expenses your business will incur. A budget provides a reference point (as well as a limit) for the things that cost your business money. It will help keep you aware of what’s draining your monthly profits so you can put a cap on any out of control expenditure.
Budgeting is easy when you know your finances inside and out. Lay out all of your expenses and profits, and compare them to see where you’re losing money. Once you’ve identified the issues, put a hard spending limit in place, and stick to it.
6. Stay in Compliance
Keeping your business in compliance will keep you from being penalized, fined, or even put out of business by your local, state, or federal governments. There are plenty of legal requirements for running a business (yes, even an online business) that you’ll want to be sure you’re adhering to.
You can use sites like LegalZoom or hire a business attorney to get all of your legal paperwork in order. Your articles of organization will need to be filed with the state, you’ll need to register your business name, and, in some states, even register for state sales tax.
Starting a business can be a challenging process, but once you’ve got everything in order, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a budding entrepreneur with a bright future ahead of you. Be sure to keep legal requirements in order, and don’t neglect your finances and budget!