A Simple Checklist for Starting Your eCommerce Business

The Golden Age of eCommerce is here, and it’s knocking at your door. If you’ve decided to answer, you’re one among many. Shopify, the internet’s leading eCommerce platform, hosts 500,000 active stores. Amazon, who needs no introduction, is home to over 5 million sellers, with more than 20,000 surpassing $1M in sales in 2017. With these tantalizing numbers, it’s no wonder why millions of entrepreneurs have headed to the figurative West to mine this digital gold rush.

But, just like the Gold Rush of 1849, not all who set out on this adventure become winners. You’re probably aware of the internet’s favorite statistic about startups, which is that 90% of them fail. While success can never truly be guaranteed, a solid foundation will significantly increase your chances for smooth sailing as you embark on this great journey. 

1. Identify Why You Want to Start an eCommerce Business

It’s often the simplest questions that have the hardest answers, which is why we urge you to sit down and really think about this one. Before you do, we’ll tell you what aren’t good reasons:

  • Because you’re bored
  • Because you want to brag to your friends and family (Don’t worry — bragging rights will come with time!)
  • Because you want to follow what’s trendy
  • Because you want to be rich and famous
  • Because you want to be rich and famous and the internet seems like the quickest way to do it (This is a myth!)

Starting a business is one of the biggest commitments you can make, which is why it’s important to do it for the right reasons. With your heart in the right place, you’ll be able to put in the hard work needed to get stellar results.

2. Ask If Entrepreneurship Is Right for You

There is extensive discourse on whether or not entrepreneurs are born or made. In this case, your stance isn’t as important as your ability to be honest with yourself. If you believe entrepreneurs are born, would you consider yourself a natural-born entrepreneur? If you believe they’re made, could you see yourself calling all the shots?

Here at ShipMonk, we like to keep things transparent. The truth of the matter is that entrepreneurship is hard. It’s hard because you’re making a big commitment. It’s hard because you’ll be working long hours. It’s hard because you’re going to have to take risks, and they won’t always pay off. Is it worth it? Absolutely. But only if you love what you do.

3. Find a Winning Product

If you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, you’ve probably summoned Google to help you find the best products to sell. Here’s our pro tip: Forget Google. Sell something you like. If you’re outsourcing your products, find something you’re passionate about. If you’re making your products, figure out what you can realistically make the best. 

A common mistake we see for those starting out is that they overwhelm themselves with options. Too many SKUs, for example, can result in choice paralysis for your customers and visual clutter for your website. Start out with simple, quality products and expand your offerings as you grow.

4. Research Your Market & Competition

What time is it? Time for some light stalking. Put on your finest fake moustache and tiny bowler hat and get ready for a deep dive into your competition. Of course, we won’t leave you totally unprepared! Here are some things to consider while you research:

  • What is your primary demographic? Who do you want to sell to? 
  • Where can you find this demographic? Which Instagram hashtags and obscure online shops are they hiding in?
  • What does your demographic value? What will incite their attention?
  • What’s your niche like? Does it have any untapped potential?
  • Who are the big players in your niche? What are they doing right… and what do you think they’re doing wrong?

The more you understand what’s around you, the better equipped you will be as a small business owner. You know what they say… Keep your enemies close, but your customers closer. (…or something like that.) 

5. Write a Kick-Ass Business Plan

Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? It doesn’t matter, because business plans are here to stay. And haunt you in your sleep. Boo!

If you don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. Here are the basics of what you should include:

  • Executive Summary: A description of your company that includes a mission statement and basic information
  • Organizational & Operational Structure: Who will be in charge of what
  • Product Offerings: Information about your store’s SKUs
  • Industry & Market Analysis: An overview of your competitors and where you’ll be selling your products
  • Strategy: How you plan to divide and conquer
  • Financial Plan: Your budget as well as financial projections

Remember, a business plan can only be as good as its implementation. If you’re not following through with what you’ve written, all your hard work will be wasted. Now that’s spooky. Make sure you stay focused and revise what you’ve written as needed, because things can and will change over time. But you know what won’t change? Your enthusiasm and dedication, because you’ve got this! 

Whether you’re thinking about or have already started your eCommerce expedition, ShipMonk is here to help. Simply drop us a line and we’ll be more than happy to assist you with all of your fulfillment needs.