Every day millions of people have an idea and think “I’d love it if that was my job”, but only a fraction of them will actually give it a shot.
Already annual online retail sales in the USA have broken $200 billion and projections expect that by 2016 it’ll be more than $300 billion. In the UK and Europe the figures was just over €200 billion, and projections for 2012 are estimated to be around €232 billion, with the UK accounting for a quarter of that total.
Here are some tips that should hopefully make it a bit less scary.
Have a Business Plan
You have your idea for the dream online shop but don’t just jump in. Even if you have that one-in-a-million idea it can still fall flat if you don’t put together a solid business plan. Research. I’ll say it again, RESEARCH!
You have to know your market; who are your competitors? What’s your target customer base? What’s your Unique Selling Point compared to everyone else, why should people buy from you?
Answering these questions is a start, but the research never stops, you have to keep on top of changing market trends.
A Beautiful Shop Front
You need a domain name for your shop. You can be pretty creative, but don’t go crazy. It can be tempting to be a little obscure, but it shouldn’t be too long, it should be easy to remember, and it should at least give an indication of what you’re selling.
The online “high street” is even more difficult than the real one. With so many websites it’s hard to stand out, but the key to your shop front is that it has to be appealing to the eye, shoppers have to want shop there.
It’s essential that when people shop with you that they are sure that their information and details are safe. Going with a well-known and trusted secure payment method such as PayPal will inspire confidence and trust.
Registering Your Company
Unfortunately it’s not all fun and games being an online shopkeeper. It’s important that you register your company with the Inland Revenue.
You can be a Sole Trader or Partnership, but this will mean that you’ll be personally responsible for any or your company’s debts. There are many online resources such as Business Link which can offer lots of advice on getting started.
Managing Your Finances
Every year you have to file a tax return, and this can be a tiresome process especially when your trading starts to pick-up, but at the same time you don’t necessarily want the expense of an accountant on retainer all year round.
Many businesses are now using online accounting software which can keep tabs on all of the financial aspects of your business from calculating profit margins to working out how much tax you have to pay, but it’s always advisable to consult a finance professional.
Yes, it’s all a bit scary, but there is plenty of help out there. So, the next time you have a bright idea, it might be worth thinking about it as a business.
Catherine Halsey writes for a digital marketing agency on a range of subjects. This article links back to http://www.freeagent.com/. The content contained in this article is for information purposes only and should not be used to make any financial decisions.
Featured image on home page courtesy of birgerking.