How to set up an online business on a budget
Guest post by Sabrina Pinksen
Living in London is expensive, from accommodation to food, the bills quickly add up and without a strong steady job, you may not be able to make it for long in the capital. Opening your very own independent online store could be a great idea if you are creative and need some extra cash. There are many steps that you need to take in order to be successful and not end up losing rather than gaining any money. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get an overview of what it takes to open an online store.
Find what drives you
If you’re going to open a brand-new business, you’ll need to make sure that you have passion and drive. A new business is similar to having a new-born, it’s tiring, hard work and needs you to be available 24/7. So do make sure that it is something you love doing and wouldn’t mind doing for hours on end. For example, if you love drawing and can’t get enough of it then why not sell some prints online?
Do market research
Market research is important to evaluate if you have any chance to be successful. With a bit of research you can evaluate the current climate with the help of surveys, observations, and trials to make sure that the products you will sell are in high demand but more importantly if you could make a profit or not. It is especially needed in a city as big as London as there is much more competition than in a small town.
Start resourcing or creating
Before you start selling anything, you should stock up on your products. If you want to sell food, then make sure you have all the products ready to start baking so you don’t find yourself in an awkward position once the website is live and running but you have nothing to sell. Same goes for art or services, make sure you are ready to go.
Find yourself a good hosting website
Having an intuitive website that works smoothly and hosts a good shopping experience for your future customers is key. Of course, you could start by selling on platforms such as Etsy or Depop but if you’re serious about making it work then having your own website is important. Wix, Bluehost or Godaddy are great hosts to start with, they’re not super expensive and will definitely give you your money’s worth.
Grasp the shipping cost
Using a website such as Parcel2Go that compare shipping costs is a good starting point, you don’t want to overprice or under-price your shipping costs. Unfortunately, you may have to have a high shipping cost at first to cover your finances. There are some great delivery companies for small businesses like Hermes, Yodel or DHL. Make sure to check the cost of international shipping as well.
Create an identity
Standing out from the crowd is important when starting a new business. By creating a brand identity, you are sure to make your brand more powerful and influential, creating trust amongst your customers. To create a brand identity, you’ll need to choose your own typography, logo, colour palette, tone of voice, packaging and reflect that on all platforms (website, social media, parcels, etc)
Set up your business
If you have a team working with you on your new business, then maybe you need to think of purchasing some business essentials. Firstly, make sure you have a good reliable internet connection but also a telephone line for your customer service. You can purchase a business landline in London that will transfer to your mobile phone. Finding an office for your business could cost you a lot in London, to start with you should try to make do in the comfort of your home.
Register your business
Once you have found your online business name, make sure that it’s not already being used. There are many websites that can check if the name is available or not such as names.co.uk or Godaddy, you can also search on the government website at Companies House. Make sure that your business name is something memorable, that people will remember.
Use social media
In this day and age, having a strong social media presence is major, especially for a business. Instagram, Facebook, Youtube Twitter and Pinterest are great to stay in touch with your customers and promote your business. Social media is the simplest and quickest way to gain brand awareness, make sure to set up your accounts as business so you get the most out of it.
Register with HMRC
HMRC or Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is a must-do for any new business to make sure you are paying the right amount of tax and National Insurance. It’s up to you if you wish to register as a sole trader or if you want to set up a limited company.