Whether you’re wanting to start a new business or just earn some extra cash, you could be using spare time during lockdown to set up your own online store.
As people continue to work remotely and isolate for the next few weeks and months to avoid exposure to the Coronavirus, it’s likely that the popularity of online shopping will continue to rise – offering buyers a safer alternative to hitting the malls.
One way to bring in an additional source of income is by turning a hobby or skill into an online business.
There are several hobbies and skills that have the potential to be turned into an online business.
Enjoy writing? Sell eBooks, novels or novellas online.
Have a flare for illustration or design? Start a T-shirt business showcasing your authentic designs, or printable artwork.
Enjoy cooking? Offer a subscription box of recipes and ingredients featuring your recipe creations.
The possibilities for authentic, one-of-a-kind products are endless, all you need to do is some planning and research up front to turn your hobby into an online business that earns you extra income.
5 Tips to starting a business online
Plan what you will be offering customers
First, identify what it is exactly that you are good at doing or creating. It could be one or multiple things. And, remember that you don’t have to decide on only one product – you could first test whether there is a market for any of your ideas with friends and family, before deciding on your course of action.
The important step here is to really give careful consideration into what skills or hobby you can turn into an online business – and whether there will be a market for it right now.
As people continue to stay at home, consider some of their needs that you could fulfil.
Business and Life coaches, for example, are providing one-on-one online consultations, while designers are offering personalised one-of-a-kind re-usable material face masks.
Jot your ideas down and consider the viability of each before settling on one or two ideas.
Do your competitor research
Before you start selling anything, research, research and then research again. Have a look at what is already available in the marketplace and ask yourself:
Who else is offering what you are wanting to sell?
Is there a viable market for your product?
What are the major costs involved in making your product?
How are your competitors pricing their products?
What can you do differently to distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Find an all-in-one ecommerce platform
Next, start thinking about where you will sell your products. You may consider an online marketplace as an easy option to get going, but first investigate what their rules and regulations may be, including how much of your sale will need to be shared with the online marketplace provider, and whether there are any hidden costs, such as advertising revenue which may be deducted as a percentage of your income.
You would also need an easy-to-use solution, that offers you the ability to accept payments. Standard Bank’s SimplyBlu ecommerce platform enables you to start and manage an online business from a single, secure platform. You can get up and running in no time and can access an all-in-one digital business starter pack with powerful tools. SimplyBlu also enables you to accept payments anywhere and everywhere.
4. Market your online store
Now that’s you’ve identified the right platform to host your new online business you’ll need to start selling.
Come up with an original, engaging name for your business that quickly lets customers know what your offering is all about.
Next, develop an original look and feel that helps you to stand out from your competitors.
Start getting word out about your business and products. You might start small with friends and family, but to access a larger audience, start building an online presence through social media and online ads. Be prepared to spend some money before you will make money so that you can attract customers to your online shop.
Carve time out for your business
Turning your hobby or skill into an online business as a secondary income stream will mean that you’ll have to juggle time between your full-time job and side shop. Carve out time between work and family responsibilities to invest in building your business.
Structure your time so that you spend a few hours every day devoted to building your business and producing your products.
Invest in ongoing learning about how to market your online shop effectively and building a brand.
Treat your online business as – a business. Looking at it as anything less will mean that it becomes less of a priority.
Above all, don’t give up. Building a business of value will demand time. However, the dividends will pay off in the future.