Today kicks off my new series called “Work from Home.” I’m going to show you business ideas that will allow you to work from home or from anywhere your happened to be stationed. Today we’re talking about “How to Start an Online Boutique.” Opening an online store is a great way to generate income while working from home. I’ll take you step by step on how to create your own online shop.
Step 1: Decide What Products You Want to Offer
You have three options. You can:
- Make your own products
- Design your products and have them manufactured
- Buy products at wholesale and sell them at retail
If you want to have your products manufactured, a good website to look for suppliers is Thomasnet.com. To find wholesalers check out WholesaleCentral. You’ll want to to an extensive search to make sure that you are getting the materials to make your products at the best price, without sacrificing quality. The less you can spend on materials, the more profitable it will be for your business.
If you decide to physically make your own products, something you need to consider is that as your business grows, the busier you’ll be. Then comes in the time vs. money factor. Instead of the business being something you enjoy, it could be something that’s taking time away from your family because you’re working triple time to produce your product. You want to spend the bulk of your time promoting and selling your products. A good rule of thumb is to spend 20% of your time making your products, and 80% of your time promoting and selling them. If the majority of your time is spent making your products, you may want to look into having someone else manufacture your design, or consider going into business with a partner that can promote and sell the products while you’re making them.
To get launched quickly, I recommend starting with just a few products. You can always add more later, but the key to getting profitable quickly is to start selling! Even if that means just one product, that’s okay. Once your boutique is up and running, you can add more products to your line.
Step 2: Get Your Legal Ducks in a Row
To purchase products from a wholesaler, they will typically ask for your Federal tax identification number. This takes no time at all to set up. You simply go to IRS.gov and you can get your number online very quickly. Using a business tax ID makes it possible for you to open up a business checking account which will make it much easier on you when it comes to doing your taxes. You can set up a free business checking account at Navy Federal Credit Union. You’ll also want to determine how you want to structure your business to ensure you and your business are protected.
Step 3: Create Your Online Storefront
You’ll next want to determine where you want to sell your products. You can create your own website or sell your products on Etsy, Amazon, or via social media with a Facebook page, group, or Instagram. I recommend having your own website to sell your products on regardless of the other platforms you choose. However, a great way to get your business kicked off quickly is to sell your products via social media. Simply post photos of our products and then send customers invoices via PayPal so they can pay you online.
Depending on the type or products you sell, creating an Etsy store or an Amazon store many be a great option. The advantages of setting up a store on these platforms are that customers are already there searching for products. Etsy is a market place where you can sell your handmade goods, vintage items and craft supplies to buyers around the world. Etsy has a list of what can and cannot be sold on their site.
To sell your products on Amazon, you’ll need to create an Amazon Sellers Account. They have loads of information on their site to show you how you can utilize Amazon as a selling platform. You can even have your products shipped directly to their warehouse and shipped via Amazon Prime. There are several fees involved to sell on Amazon so it’s very important to pay attention to your profit margins.
If you’re ready to build your own online storefront, you have several options to get started but I’ll outline two options for you here with Shopify and WooCommerce.
Shopify powers many online boutiques but it does tend to be more expensive. A Basic Shopify account is $29 per month. This includes the entire website storefront and blog feature.
WooCommerce-You simply follow the steps to setting up your own WordPress website (you can click this link here to learn how) and then you upload the WooCommerce plugin to your site and you instantly have a store. You upload your products, set your prices and your good to go. While WooCommerce is free to set up your website, you’ll be paying a monthly hosting fee of $3-$8 and you’ll want to purchase a premium theme for your website which can run from $15-$89. I recommend Divi by Elegant Themes (Affiliate Link) but there are many themes to choose from. You’ll also need an SSL certificate which will run you $4-$5 per month. So you’re looking at starting a boutique for under $200 for the entire year.
Step 4: Determine How You Want to Handle Shipping
To drop ship or self-ship?
The next step you’ll want to consider is, how will you handle shipping? Do you have enough space where you’re currently living to house the inventory for your shop? If you live abroad or if you don’t have enough room where you live, drop-shipping may be a good option for you. Drop-shipping is where your products are sent to a fulfillment center-which is a warehouse that specifically handles shipping. They will take your orders and ship them out. All you’re responsible for is getting your products to the warehouse. You can have them shipped directly there. There are fees for this service, sometimes it’s a per-order fee, others have monthly fees, so just know this option is available as you launch your business. Small Business Warehousing at SBWarehousing.com is one for example.
Step 5: Take Action
If you’re ready to create your own online boutique, it’s time to take action! You can do this. Don’t wait another day thinking about your dreams. Get out there and make it happen! Start researching business names, manufacturers, decide where you want to sell your products and begin thinking about your ideal customers. If you need help, and want support and encouragement along the way, be check out my free video series on How to Create Your Own PCS Proof Business.
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