Business plans are everyone’s least favorite aspect of starting a business. They take time and require brainstorming and strategy. Though business plans are the most boring part of starting an online business, they are crucial to having a successful company. The strategies include many different facets such as planning on what your store will be selling, if you will be a niche market or a broad market, what types of advertising you will need and finances required. It also requires you to consider the amount of time you are willing to put into your store. Do you want it to be a part-time gig or are you aiming to go full-time? Another thing to consider is if you will hire employees for any aspect of the business. This is all discussed in your business plan and it is helpful to have someone else to discuss the plans with, to be certain your plans are logical and will work.
What Are You Planning to Sell?
This is the most important part of any business plan. You may believe you already have an idea of what you plan to sell as you try to make extra money, but before you start an online store, you must make sure you have a solid idea. You need to understand the market you are planning to join and should research the different, successful companies in that market. Do you plan on how to start online store and be more of a niche seller or do you want to have a broad store? Niche markets are much more successful for online businesses, as broad business models will be overrun with Amazon or other major broad-spectrum stores. You will also need to consider the size of the product or products you will be selling, as bigger products will be more expensive to ship. If you are planning to sell several large items, it may be best to find offsite storage facilities to house your goods.
In the current market, many sellers are making replicas of pop culture clothing or items. While this is great for large fan bases, many production companies will file lawsuits against anyone selling items as a certain brand. For example, Harry Potter scarves have been and are still very popular. Many Etsy sellers knit or crochet wonderful scarves based on the Hogwarts house colors and market them as “Slytherin,” “Ravenclaw,” “Hufflepuff,” and “Gryffindor” scarves. Warner Brother’s Studios have sued many sellers for making money off the brand. If you plan to do something similar, you should consider renaming items and changing aspects about them slightly. This way, you can avoid any future legal issues for copyright infringement.
Take adequate measures to protect the customers from misuse of personal information and identity theft. It is important to understand these rules and regulations for a business that collects financial or personal data wither through credit reports, applications or online sales.
Starting an Online Store Still Requires Advertising
When writing up your business plan, make sure you consider the steps to take when it comes to advertising. It is wise to have an advertising plan set up before you start your business in order to be ready to promote your new store. Utilize social media, press releases, email campaigns, and regular Internet ads.
Customer Service is Crucial to Your Store
Detailing a customer service plan is important when setting up a business plan. This will help prepare you to work with your new customers and create great relationships with them. You will need to decide how to handle returns if a customer is not satisfied and how to make sure they feel good about your services. If an item is damaged in the mail, will you replace it with another product or simply refund the money? While a refund is good, many customers might not want a refund preferring instead to have the same product or an adequate replacement. Happy customers will share your store with friends and family, generating wonderful business. Ask for customer feedback to learn about ways you can improve your customer service plan, and implement these changes. This will help your customers feel that you are listening to them and are willing to work with them on all issues.
Do You Plan To Have Employees?
This venture may just require you and one other person, but you need to decide if you will hire anyone to write content for you, design websites, do the photography for your items, and several other positions you may need to fill. This can be difficult for a fledgling business with a limited budget. Consider asking friends for services in the beginning but also have a plan in place for hiring employees, what you will expect from them, and how much you will pay anyone who works for you. Being prepared as early as possible will save stress in the future.
Make sure your business plan is ever growing. It needs to have room to develop and adapt to new encounters you will come across. Take customer input to change your business strategy and improve your business. This will create not only happy customers, but also a successful online store that you will make you proud.