How to start aN Online business
A great way to create passive income
By Dakotah Moses
Congratulations! By reading this you're on your way to building a business that works for you. I am a firm believer in the power of e-commerce! I hope you use my experiences to help you skip some of the beginner steps in learning e-commerce. Follow the outline I have provided in this quick read, and you will be up in running in no time.
This is my official disclosure that this is all my own opinion. I am not a professional adviser nor do I have the legal authorization to practice in form of law or accounting. I want to help you, but I strongly suggest you surround yourself with a team including a real lawyer and accountant who can help you with your specific business.
Before you start
First, let me state that I believe in branding. However there are many ways to create a great brand. It doesn't have to be as simple as "I make great T-shirts, we're a t-shirt brand" I started a business selling fresh beef jerky. Since then I have added coffee, t-shirts, hats, books, a YouTube channel, and more. My advice here is to find a great product and have better customer service. Great customers have built our brand.
It is important to understand the legal ramifications associated with your startup so before you get too far along I would look into what it takes to start a real business. As stated in this books preface I strongly suggest you reaching out to a professional. I will however provide a little bit of insight into my experiences with these subjects.
Legalzoom.com is a website built to streamline basic legal paperwork. It is the cheapest refutable option for creating a business entity. Your best bet if you have the money however is to work with a lawyer. Legalzoom.com will ask you questions about your business to determine how to help, but I personally feel more comfortable with a lawyer after taking both routes. Use your gut obviously every situation will be different
Finding a product
In this book I want to focus on building a passive flow of income so I will only discuss options here where your business is more or less responsible for sales and marketing. This formula works well with the automated tools I will discuss later on. If you would prefer a more hands on project I would suggest checking out my book available on Amazon called "How to Start a Business at the Farmers Market".
Next, once have an idea and a business name, you will need a logo. My suggestion here is to run a google search for “free logo creators”. There are tons of websites that will happily help you “create” a logo for free, and then charge you for the rights to use it. Either way, it’s normally a fair price; You get what you pay for. A cheaper option is to take your logo design the free creator program made you, and download a free trial of Adobe Illustrator to make it yourself. This obviously involves some level of skill and time. A step above these two options would be to use a website called fiverr.com. There you will find tons of talented individuals who charge you per task.
Next, you should create a professional email address to start running your business on. My choice is always Gmail.com here. Don’t worry about having Joe@joescoffee.com for an email address yet. The time will come, but for now stay lean where possible.
After you have a logo and email address it is time to create a Facebook business page. This will be the hub for your business’s online presence as of 2017. Go ahead and create an Instagram and Twitter account while you’re at it.
*Tip* Apps like Buffer allow you to post to all of your social media sites simultaneously.
Building Your website
Once you have a product now is the time to invest in a website, or at least start selling your product on Amazon.com. My preferred website provider is Shopify.com. Shopify is easy to use, and their templates really set you up for success. Shopify also has thousands of third-party apps that are perfect for helping you grow your business. We use their third-party apps to track the clicks on our websites, giving customers the option to subscribe, and streamlining the shipping process.
A cheaper alternative would be Godaddy.com. They have their own version of a website builder that can get the job done. We also use Godaddy.com for purchasing extra domain names and for custom email addresses. You will want to keep Godaddy.com in mind when growing your online presence.
I personally prefer Shopify so going forward I will speak specifically about my favorite strategies when using their platform. Once you have a website it is important that you collect email addresses. Using a service like MailChimp, which is free, will allow you to leverage these email addresses to contact your customers directly on demand. These are some of your best customers, and if used wisely their email addresses will be a very useful tool. Shopify and MailChimp have partnered to provide an app for easy integration. Emails can easily be collected on your Shopify website, and dumbed directly into an automated campaign with MailChimp.
My favorite thing about MailChimp by far is their automated campaigns. We normally have at least three campaigns that we run nonstop. They are set up to send when customers take a certain action. Below are the actions taken, and examples of our current campaign.
First Time Customers
The most important thing I want you to take away from this is that we’re giving away promos, asking for customers to get involved, and trying to save them money. It is a must that you don’t take advantage of your email list. Cultivate this group!
*Tip* Giving something away for free is a great way to collect email addresses. Consider creating some form of content or recipe as a way to entice new potential customers.
Oberlo is another Shopify app that gives Shopify the upper hand as a website provider. Oberlo is an app designed to simplify the task of drop shipping items from AliExpress. I will talk more about choosing your supplier next, but for right now here’s what you need to know. You can use their app to quickly search the AliExpress database and make them available on your website. Oberlo will actually set up the product for you on the Shopify platform. Their platform streamlines the whole AliExpress process including shipping. It is a must have when drop shipping via AliExpress.
*Tip* Make sure to double check the Oberlo automated product information once they have uploaded it to your website. They do a great job of getting all the information into Shopify, but I have found that a little touching up on their grammar can go a long way.
Picking a 3rd Party Supplier
There are two main options for setting up a more or less automated business. Using a company like AliExpress is the easiest and cheapest option. AliExpress is a subsidiary company of Alibaba which is based out of China. AliExpress allows you to purchase items one at a time from Chinese factories at very low costs. I would like to point out here that simplicity is key. Personally, I avoid technology, and I am careful to double check measurements on clothing. It's never a bad idea to get a sample shipped to you before offering items to customers. Consider it research and development.
The other option is to order your products from a copacker or try to work out a drop shipping deal with a domestic manufacturer. This is a great method when your product is edible.
*Tip* Does everyone love grandma's amazing cookie recipe? Most copackers have the capabilities of using your recipe to increase uniqueness of the product.
Domestic copackers do tend to have a higher minimum order quantity than AliExpress. You will also need to store and ship your products using this method. That being said, your quality will almost certainly be high quality, and professionally made. This is another situation where you do get what you pay for.
Be careful to look into manufacturers; AliExpress provides ratings on their website. Larger manufacturers ,expecially domestically, will be able to offer better pricing.
Consider checking out AliExpress's parent companies website Alibaba and compare prices with your domestic copackers. Prices can be competitive online. Any margin saved will give you room to advertise to market your products.
I have found the best method for directing traffic is to take advantage of free and low costs clicks. Websites like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit give you access to free traffic. I try to take time once a week to set up scheduled posts on these sites. My mantra here is good content! Being entertaining will go a long way with growing a social media following.
If you plan on using paid advertising, which I do suggest, start with a small daily budget and grow it slowly. It seems that the higher your daily budget is the less efficient your ads become. Do not be afraid to set your budget at $1/day on the Facebook, Google, and Twitter platforms.
Amazon.com also offers an advertising platform. If you're margins are big, and you choose to offer your products on their platform this can be a very effective form of advertising if not the most effective. Their ads platform does offer a daily budget, but the bid cost per click in my opinion is more important. I would suggest using the same method as discussed with the social media platforms daily budgets for Amazons big per click program.
When attempting to direct traffic to your website consider using “deals” as click bate. My three go to deals are free shipping, a free or sample product, and a limited time promo code.
I hope you’re able to use this guide to start, and build a successful business. I invite you to share the title of this book with others. Please contact me directly with updates via my website DakotahMoses.com