By Laurence Bertone
If you’re thinking about starting your own e-commerce business there’s no shortage of information and “how-to” advice out there about how to go about it. The last thing the blogosphere needs is yet another “How to Start Your Own E-Commerce Business” article (1. Select Your Product, 2. Pick an E-Commerce Platform, etc.).
So we’re not going to do that to you. Instead, we’re going to tell you four true things about starting your own e-commerce business from scratch–with your own money–that we learned the “old fashioned way” by doing it ourselves.
#1: It’s Scary
If you’re like most people, there are some things about starting an e-commerce business that are going to take you just a wee bit out of your comfort zone.
For one thing, if you’re serious about starting a business you’ll probably need to, well… start a business. Meaning, establish a company. This is not something the typical person does every day, and you are probably no exception. The good news is it’s not as hard as you think. There are basically two things you will have to decide: what kind of company to start, and who to use to help you start it (hint: LLC and a company like LegalZoom).
The next thing you’re going to have to get used to is spending a little money.
Luckily, it doesn’t cost all that much to get an e-commerce website up and running. Many of the big e-commerce platform companies, like Shopify, Bigcommerce, and Volusion, for example, have free trial periods and reasonably priced entry-level subscription plans.
Another thing you’re going to encounter are these things called “business expenses.” These are things that you need to spend money on to keep your business breathing. There are lots of examples of big and small expenses: a printer (small), ink for the printer (big); a scale to weigh your packages (small), postage for those packages (big).
And then there’s this little thing called Inventory. That’s the stuff you have to buy (and store, by the way) before you sell it. The pucker factor is going to increase significantly when you have to drop your first $3,000 on a pant-load of products that, frankly, you don’t know if you’re ever going to sell. Especially when those 3 kilobucks are coming straight out of your beloved kids’ college fund. The only advice we can give here is: close your eyes, breath deeply, and buy the flippin’ inventory.
And then, there’s… Accounting. Remain calm–it’s not as bad as it sounds, mainly because there are some really cool accounting apps that will plug right into your e-commerce platform and make things easier for you. The coolest one is probably Xero, but you may also want to take a look at QuickBooks Online because a lot of accountants are familiar with QuickBooks.
If you don’t have any background or experience in accounting you should definitely get an accountant or a consultant to help you set the system up. After that it basically comes down to keeping your expense receipts and entering them into the accounting system regularly (“regularly” being subject to interpretation depending on your level of self-discipline).