If you are thinking of starting up a new business, there are many possible directions in which you can go. One of the most difficult parts of all is deciding on which way to go, but as long as you are happy spending some time on this early stage you should find that it helps you out hugely in the subsequent months. As it happens, one of the most beneficial kinds of business for a student to run is ecommerce. This is a potent business model, primarily because you are able to run it entirely from your bedroom if need be. Yet, it can prove to be one of the most lucrative businesses of all. If you are interested in this, let’s have a look at some of the things you need to bear in mind in order to ensure your ecommerce business is as strong as possible.
Finding A Niche & Setting A Goal
There are a great deal of ecommerce businesses already out there, so who’s to say that yours will be anything particularly special? The truth is that you will need to come up with a strong niche if you want your business to have any real chance of ongoing success. If you are able to do that, then you will find that you have much more luck in the long run, and you will probably enjoy the process a lot more as well, especially if you go for a niche which is particularly important to you. It is important, at this stage, to do your research: you need to be sure that you are not treading on anyone’s toes, for a start, but you also want to give your own business the best possible start. Find a niche which works and which you think you would enjoy, and it will make the whole process considerably easier and more likely to succeed.
Having a niche can work wonders in terms of helping you to have a focus in the early days – and something else which has the same effect is having a goal to work towards. If you are particularly entrepreneurial, this can be a numerical goal: achieving a certain number of sales, or returning customers, in a certain space of time. Or it might be something more ethereal, such as having developed a brand to a point you are happy with in a certain space of time. Whatever it is, it is bound to help you out hugely in terms of getting your business to where you want it to go in good time. Make sure you know, and that any staff you might hire also know, that you have goals, and what exactly they are. If necessary, plaster them all over your bedroom walls. Whatever it takes to get started in the right way, it is definitely worth doing. And you will notice that, so far, you have not even had to leave your room once.
Building An Online Presence
It might go without saying that a bedroom-run business will rely heavily on the Internet. In fact, you will probably be doing everything online, except for any manufacturing which might need to take place, or if you want to carry out any face-to-face marketing. A primarily online business will benefit greatly from having a strong online presence, and this is probably the first thing that you really want to think about. But how do you go about building an online presence, and what are the characteristics of a strong one?
The first thing you’ll want to do is to set up a website. At the moment, this doesn’t need to be anything particularly special, just so long as you have a space online where your business can sit and gradually draw in some interest. You will be spending a lot of time drumming up that interest, so it might help to outsource the management of your website to a firm like Kurnol. But as well as your own unique space, you will benefit greatly from being present in as many other relevant areas as you can find. An obvious start to this process is to get yourself ingrained into social media, and we will be looking at how to do that in more depth later on. But it’s not just social networking sites: you probably want to make sure that you become as visible as possible on any professional networking websites such as LinkedIn too. This is the basis of a strong online presence, and it is something you can’t really overlook – but again, it’s easily achieved from the comfort of your desk.
You will know you are getting somewhere with your online presence when a particular brand begins to appear. You should already have some idea of your brand, but if not this part of the process is likely to make it much clearer to you. Once it begins to develop through interactions with others, you will want to make as much of it as possible. It is capitalising on this early branding success that makes ecommerce work so well. You can then think about drawing people into your website more and more, and before you know it your business is well on its way to great heights.
Finding Customers (Not Inventing Them)
One of the biggest mistakes that newbie business owners make is that they try to summon customers out of thin air. To be clear: this rarely succeeds, and is more often than not a complete waste of time anyway. You should make sure that you are drawing in customers at all times, but the way you do that might need looking at if you find that you are routinely struggling. As it happens, the best way to bring more customers in is to find them elsewhere. Think about your chosen niche, and then try to use your imagination to think of where online you might be able to find the kind of people who might benefit from your services or products. It shouldn’t take you too long to think of some good examples; then it’s just a matter of contacting people through that medium, whatever it might be, in order to entice them into your business. To be clear: you are not trying to steal customers from another rival business, but rather find customers of related, but non-competing, businesses and see whether they are interested in your services too.
The act of finding customers is, you will probably find, an endlessly frustrating one. However, it is also one of the major aspects of running any business, not just an ecommerce business. But a benefit of ecommerce, and of running a business from your home, is that you can effectively market your business without having to move. You can find the people you need to make your business grow, and draw them in one at a time. And a great way to do that is to employ the various powers of social networking sites.
Anyone who has even the slightest interest in running a business will know about the importance of using social media as a major part of the marketing campaign. You need to be sure you are using social media in the best way possible, and that is something which can be surprisingly hard to get right, no matter how experienced you might be. Of course, all use of social media can be done from your laptop, so that is a real advantage – but don’t fall into the trap of using social media in the wrong way. To make a success of marketing with social media, you need to make sure you are using it proactively, rather than passively.
Active use of social media simply means that you spend your time on there interacting with others – potential customers, actual customers, partner businesses and rivals – in order to raise your profile continually, to the point where you have a large and healthy following for your business. The way not to approach it is to set up a Twitter and Facebook account, and post a couple of times a week linking to your website. Instead, actively engage with others – and also remember to plug your goods and services along the way. This is how you can ensure people will follow you (literally) into your new business. If you are struggling, consider adopting a particular tone or voice for use on that website. A common (and commonly successful) example is the company which uses Twitter with a light-hearted, matey voice, thus successfully drawing people in, before selling to them again and again.
Security & Final Checks
As your website goes live, there are a few basic things to check over, just to ensure the most complete experience for your customers. For a start, bear in mind that they are going to want to feel as secure as possible, especially when using an online payment system, so don’t skimp ad save on that aspect of the website. Also ensure that you test your website thoroughly and routinely, to ensure an ongoing positive experience for the customer. As an ecommerce business, your only membrane between you and the customer is the screen – so make sure you use it well.