Online business start up checklist

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For beginners, starting out in ecommerce or selling on online auction sites is both exciting and daunting. Below is a basic checklist for all of the newbies out there to help get up and running.

Step 1: Choose a selling platform

Your first steps will involve plenty of research so get comfortable and then get clicking! Your best starting point is to find out how and where you want to sell. The easiest way to get started is by selling on an auction site such as eBay or eCRATER. Then, once you learn the basics you should consider setting up your own ecommerce site through a platform like Easy Store Creator or BuyItSellIt. These are easy (and often free) to set-up and give seller’s greater control.

Once you have found where it is you would like to begin selling, create an account and spend some time combing through the various product categories and getting a feel for the site. Check out other listings and look at the different listing formats and styles. It's also a great idea to look at information in various workshops or blogs that are offered by auction sites, as these can provide valuable information on how to sell effectively.

Step 2: Figure out what to sell

Next on your to-do list is figuring out what you want to sell. For starters, you should look at selling any unused items you have around the house. Most people actually have hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of unused stuff at home. Selling your own things from home is a great way to start learning the basics about listing auctions, shipping, and dealing with customers. Better still, it will provide you with some cash-flow which you can hopefully save to purchase wholesale items later on! We recommend trying to sell at least 50 items this way before you move onto serious product sourcing. 

During this selling practice you also need to start thinking about potential markets to focus your business on. This is where your great research skills will really come in handy. In your initial research, you may have picked-up on what the hot sellers are and what doesn't work so well. To take this a step further, search through eBay's Completed Items archives to get an idea what and how various items sell. Remember to look at listings critically and keep in mind that some 'hot sellers' operate on very low profit margins and rely heavily on large volumes of sales to make real profits.

Keep in mind the practicalities of particular items too. For example, the market for weights and dumbbells might be fantastic, but the cost of shipping such a heavy product could be a hassle. Also, warranties on tech supplies could be an issue. On the other hand, a product like organic makeup is lightweight, but will have a limited shelf life due to a lack of preservatives.  You can find basic information on shipping and helpful calculators at United States Postal Services.

Step 3: Find a supplier

Next you will need to find a supplier to work with. Be prepared to spend some time doing this – it is arguably one of the most important steps in creating a good business, so be patient. There are a few key questions you need to ask when you find a potential supplier:

1.    Do you have a minimum order quantity?
2.    Do you offer wholesale drop shipping?
3.    How long have you been a supplier for and how many partnerships are you currently managing?
4.    Do you ship internationally? Which companies do you use? Do they offer tracking information?
5.    Are you able to send low stock or out-of-stock notifications?

Step 4: Choose an online payment system

When it comes to receiving payments, ease of use for you and especially your customers, is the key. It is important for sellers to offer as many payment options as possible. Customers love using PayPal because it is easy to use and it offers them some level of security. Many sellers love PayPal because it gives you your money instantly and again, can provide security. PayPal is by far the most common 3rd party form of accepting online payments but it's worth checking out other options such as Paymate, Google Checkout, and Vendio to see what is right for you.

Related: Top PayPal Alternatives 

Step 5: Create an online presence

Having a strong online presence will increase your regular traffic and your sales. Just some of the ways you can achieve this are through:

1.    Regular listings
2.    A customized eBay store and using an ecommerce store options such as eCrater.
3.    Regular participation in online forums and discussions
4.    Consistency in the format of you item listing titles
5.    Setting up and personalizing an eBay My World account

So get to it, your dream of working from home and being your own boss is only a few clicks away!

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