If you’re looking for a part-time business to start, launching an ecommerce business is a great idea. Unlike a retail store that requires full-time sales help, an ecommerce website can practically run itself during the hours you are not available. It’s also a low-cost startup option ideal for part-timers. If your ecommerce business is successful enough, eventually you can make it full-time. Here’s how to start an ecommerce business part time:
- Write a business plan. Even though your business is part-time, you still need to think it all the way through. What will you sell and what will differentiate you from the competition? Who is your target market and how will you reach them? How much will it cost to launch your business and where will you get the money? How will you run the business day-to-day? Writing a business plan will help you answer all of these questions and keep you on the right track as you start your business — something that’s especially important when you have limited time. Find business plan templates and samples.
- Keep it simple. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew when launching your part-time ecommerce business. Starting off with a limited selection of items for sale can help you streamline operations. You can also minimize the headaches of storing inventory, packing and shipping by using drop-shipping instead. In this method of fulfilling orders, you buy product from a drop shipper only when a customer places an order. The drop shipper handles fulfillment so you never have to deal with it. (Check out this list of top-rated drop shipping companies.) In addition to simplifying logistics, this method also ensures you don’t end up with a lot of unsold inventory. Last, but not least, simplify running your ecommerce website by choosing a website design company that offers all-in-one ecommerce sites with everything you need, including shopping cart software and secure payment capabilities.
- Think mobile. While you won’t need to keep an eye on your ecommerce website every minute of the day, you will need to get alerted to customer problems, questions and other urgent issues in a timely fashion. As you set up your ecommerce website, make sure it includes functionality that can alert you via text and/or email, and that it’s mobile-friendly so you can handle back-end maintenance on your smartphone. (Of course, a mobile-friendly ecommerce site will help you attract more customers, too.)
- Follow the rules. As excited as you may be about your part-time ecommerce business, you don’t want to put your full-time job at risk before you’re ready to leave it. To make sure you stay on the right side of your employer, never conduct your business during work hours or use company property (such as your computer) to run your business. Don’t use your work email, either; get a business email that has the same domain name as your website. Finally, make sure your business isn’t in competition with your employer’s, especially if you signed any type of non-compete agreement as part of your employment contract.
- Consider partnering up. Starting your ecommerce business with a partner enables you to share the work, and can be a good option if you are only available part-time. For instance, if you have a 9-to-5 job, partnering with someone who works nights and can cover the ecommerce business during the day can make things easier.
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Maria Valdez Haubrich
Maria Valdez Haubrich is Chief Liaison Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at SmallBizDaily.com.