The number of side businesses is skyrocketing. According to a study by the eCommerce platform Selz, an amazing 15% of working adults in the United States (that’s millions of people!) already have a side business. An additional 42% say they are considering starting a side biz, and who could blame them? The average annual income from side businesses is more than $24,000 per year!
Not bad for a part-time gig!
Starting a real business is incredibly challenging. Starting a side biz isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. If you’ve always wanted to try your hand as a business owner, there has never been a better time than right now.
Here’re five steps you can take this weekend to start your own eStore business:
1. Choose Your Niche
There are millions of eStores floating around the internet, and competition can be fierce. That’s why it’s essential to choose a niche. For example, the pet industry is worth over $62 billion per year. How could you successfully compete in this already packed arena?
It’s essential to choose a niche that’s unique and interesting, like dog bunk beds. There are millions of dog beds to choose from. But dog bunk beds can’t be found at Walmart. It’s a much smaller niche and would cater to people who have a lot of money to blow on their pets. It’s much easier to attract customers in a smaller niche than the whole dog bed industry (which is almost impossible for new business owners).
2. Choose the Platform
I’ve been writing about eCommerce platforms for years, and the innovations still amaze me. They’ve grown from basic websites with a PayPal option, to thriving marketplaces. Plus, there are many that cater to specific industries or products, opening up an entirely new marketing system.
Here’re a few to consider:
Viral Style is an on-demand print marketplace that makes custom t-shirts, iPhone cases and other merch. It’s free to set up a shop, you design the shirts, and Viral Style handles the entire sales process. The platform also offers a set of powerful marketing tools, allowing sellers to leverage organic and paid activity on social media and email for audience building, remarketing and up-selling.
Etsy is the king of online craft eCommerce. Its sellers are consistently some of the most successful online shops, although competition can be overwhelming. However, if you love to create one-of-a-kind crafts, Etsy should be your first consideration.
Ruby Lane specializes in selling vintage items, including jewelry, clothing, collectibles, and artwork. It has a marketplace format, so customers can sort by period or category.
3. Create Your Logo
Depending on what platform you choose, you may or may not be able to use a custom logo for your eStore. However, it’s still important to have your own identity as you strive to stand out from the crowd (including social media). You can create your own customized logo using an easy site like Canva. Or try an outsourcing platform if you’re artistically challenged, like Fiverr or Freelancer.
Here’s an example of a watercolor logo by a Fiverr artist:
4. Set Your Prices
Many new businesses jump into marketing without figuring out one of the biggest aspects of a successful business – price!
There are three basic price ranges (although pricing issues can be incredibly complex, so this is the simple version): low, medium, and high. Set your prices low if you want to be considered affordable, and high if you have a luxury item. Mid-range is for average products, although you can reduce prices for sales and add up-sell items. Think about how much you want to make per month, and your overhead. Set up your pricing structure to match your goals and how much you believe you can sell per month.
5. Start Networking
Not all social media networks are created equal, and you don’t have time to manage 10 business profiles. Instead choose a few that best suit your new business and the niche you want to complete in.
- Twitter: business and communication
- Pinterest: fashion and retail
- Facebook: visually driven products
- LinkedIn: B2B
- Google +: B2B
Your New Risk-Free Business
A side business is one of the least risky ways to start a business. You don’t have to invest in a website – just join an eCommerce marketplace. You don’t have to spend more than $5 on a logo, and you don’t need a large inventory if you choose to go with on-demand printing.
I don’t want the process to sound simple, because it’s hard work. But you have lots of choices, and new eCommerce platforms give non-business people the opportunity to become new business owners.
Start small, grow at your own pace, and make your mark in the world.