The old-school way to start a business was to create a business plan, get funding, and open a business on Main Street. This generally cost thousands, and success wasn’t guaranteed. It was risky and time-intensive. You could literally lose everything.
However, times have changed. Now, with very little investment, anyone can open an online business. Success is not guaranteed, but without a large initial investment, there is minimal risk. With new and inexpensive ecommerce options, business owners can now create a product and sell it online without jeopardizing their entire life savings.
It Starts with an Idea
Starting a new online business is still the same as a traditional business. You must have a great idea. The easiest and cheapest options are digital: eBooks, videos, or an online course. It just has to be something people want. Something that sells.
These products aren’t generally expensive to make. Most can be done on a laptop. Even if this portion is outsourced, it’s still an inexpensive way to create a product, because the beautiful thing about digital products is they can be easily replicated. You don’t have to keep paying a wholesale cost. Just rake in the profits.
Ecommerce Platforms – Easy & Simply Options
It would cost thousands to outsource a new ecommerce website. Fortunately, there are several cheap or free options that allow business owners to sell their digital products online. Anyone tech savvy can create a WordPress website and use plugins to sell directly from their own website. WooCommerce is an ecommerce plugin that is free to install and use. You can add some premium extensions, but its fine for a basic shopping site. This is a great option for anyone who has WordPress experience or wants to learn how to create, maintain, and manage their own website.
Alternatively, there are simple and easy ecommerce platforms like Selz. Selz allows users to sell digital products. There is a small per-transaction fee, but it’s free to sign up and create an online storefront. You can also embed Selz into an existing website, or link to any posts. Selz is also mobile friendly, and allows anyone to shop from their mobile device. This option is perfect for anyone who wants an easy interface, and wants to start their business without a large investment.
Amazon and other eBook sellers allow anyone to become a best-selling author. Of course, this makes it sound easy—which it isn’t. You still have to have a great product and a great marketing strategy, but it can be done. Amanda Hocking, J.A. Konrath, and CJ Lyons are just a few of the so-called 99-Cent Kindle Millionaires or authors who self-published Kindle eBooks. Amazon took publishers out of the equation and gave everyone the chance to sell in the largest marketplace in the world. For anyone who dreams of becoming a writer, it’s an amazing opportunity.
Focus on Growth
With a unique digital product and an affordable sales platform, a new entrepreneur can focus primarily on growth. Inventory is not an issue. New sales are downloaded from a server. The entrepreneur can spend the majority of their time marketing, not managing.
Social media isn’t the only way to build a brand online, but it’s certainly one of the cheapest. In 2013, a study by Mobstac found that 75% of all social media referred sales were generated by Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. By 2016, consumers in the United States are expected to spend $327 billion online. Social media is one way to engage fans, promote seasonal sales, and build brand awareness.
Social media doesn’t have to be the driving force behind sales. Mobstac found that 74% of social media users make purchase decisions based on information found by using their favorite social media platform. This means social media may be more valuable when building a brand than as an actual sales outlet. This is great news for new online businesses. They can focus on building buzz about their products, not trying to sell directly to consumers.
A New Kind of Business Model
The new digital business model reduces overall risk. It doesn’t take a large initial investment, and it evens the playing field. Literally, anyone can create and sell digital products online. Moving from selling on Main Street to selling online isn’t as easy as it sounds. Failure is still a possibility, but it does create new opportunities that don’t exist in the traditional business model.
Ecommerce innovations give digital entrepreneurs options. It allows them to focus more on growing their business, and not wasting time managing small details. Success isn’t guaranteed, but nothing is guaranteed in business. Ecommerce innovations simply give entrepreneurs a chance.
And sometimes a chance is all they need.
About the Author
Liesha Petrovich is the creator of Micro Business Essentials a unique business blog exclusively for micro businesses.