Starting a business is always a scary prospect. There are uncertainties, doubts, concerns and, dare we say, excuses that hold you back from starting.
These are all valid feelings, but if you dig deeper, you are going to see the counter arguments that make your doubts seem pretty small. Soon, you’ll even see the multiple compelling reasons for you to start an online store—today.
Let’s address some common concerns about starting your own online store.
“I’m not tech savvy.” Or, “I don’t know where to start.”
You don’t need to be that tech savvy to get started. E-commerce platforms are very intuitive, and the learning curve isn’t steep. Think of starting an e-commerce store the way you would think about starting a brick-and-mortar business. The only difference is that your store is placed online.
With a physical store, you learn about business practices, the process of getting your product into the hands of your customers, the equipment and the building itself. Having an online store requires the same initial knowledge gathering, only you’re learning about it through the lens of the internet.
Fortunately, there are many free articles that address how to set up your online store, like our beginner’s guide to Shopify. You’ll probably want to read each article in full, but here are the basics of how to get started:
Before you start, do your due diligence and try to research as much as you can.
This will not only give you the know-how, but it will also make you more comfortable and confident about your decision. Preparation brings you close to perfection.
Choose your web hosting platform. There are many easy platforms to choose from, but we recommend the most popular two because there are the most user-friendly for beginners: Shopify and Bigcommerce.
Plus, both of these platforms have a 14-day free trial so you can get the feel of operating your store before you commit.
- Proceed with the design/theme of your online store. Don’t worry. You don’t have to be a graphic artist or an art major to do this. There are templates or themes that you can choose from which are pretty intuitive and easy to use.
But not everyone learns in the same way. We know that it can be challenging for many people to learn by just reading articles.
So we’ve also compiled some helpful resources that are more interactive:
- There are step-by-step videos that detail everything you need to know to launch your e-commerce business Here are the ones we’d watch first:
- There are even courses/tutorials that you can enroll to. Some are paid like this one on Skillshare or some are free and are supported by the e-commerce platform itself, like this one from Shopify.
Alternately, you can save time and outsource the aspects that you're not familiar with. The internet is not only a resource, it’s a means of communication and sharing. You can get other people to collaborate with you and share their skills to help you with the other tasks of running your online store.
“I don’t have any business ideas.”
We got you covered. Here are some of the ideas for a lucrative e-commerce business. (Hint, you may want to start with these for brainstorming and then make them your own.)
Try selling special clothes. According to Shopify’s research, the top product to sell in 2019 is “shapewear.” These are undergarments usually worn by women to enhance their shape, kind of like modern-day corsets (but way more comfortable).
It might be surprising, but shapewear is considered one of the best evergreen niches. An evergreen niche is a focus on a product that caters to a specific buyer while never going out of style. There will always be someone who wants to look like they’re in better shape.
- Consider hygienic products, especially those that are subscription based. There are multiple companies with this business model such as The Dollar Shave Club and FabFitFun. This is another interesting evergreen niche, as hygiene is considered a basic need (and therefore won’t ever go out of style).
Also think about Cannabis products. This industry is booming this year. If you’ve already thought of riding the cannabis high (pun intended), better start now.
E-commerce cannabis is perfect since it’s a focused niche, but it still has a very large audience of Gen-Z consumers. And Shopify is the best platform for cannabis brands, thanks to its explicit and vocal support for the industry.
Even if you don’t choose one of these ideas, here’s what you need to keep in mind to help you choose the best business idea for your online store:
- Start with your passion. “Do something you love and you will never work a day in your life.” If you’re passionate about something, it will radiate through what you are selling, and customers will pick up on your passion.
- Start with something you are good at. “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.” Earn from your skills. If you’re already good at something and you produce it, quality control will always be easy. Customers love a quality and skillfully made product.
Step out of your comfort zone. This is kind of scary, but try. You never know, you may be good at something you’d never considered before.
Think of Harrison Ford. He was a carpenter for George Lucas (of Star Wars fame). He did an impromptu reading for Lucas, got discovered by Stephen Spielberg and got the role of Han Solo. Acting was very far from his original career, but he became successful anyway.
- Offer services through your store. Online stores don’t just offer physical products, they also offer services, software, digital art and much more.
- If you can’t think of any customer pain points, start with your own. All people are consumers. Chances are that your pain points are also other people’s pain points. Is there anything about the current product offerings that you wish was better?
If you’re really struggling to come up with a good idea, there is even a software that can help you look for profitable products for your online store. Just last February, Intelligynce was developed to help online sellers find products that are currently in demand.
“My business idea is not popular.”
Although you might think that to start a business you have to aim big and try to target as many customers as possible, it’s simply not true.
We mentioned niches in an earlier section. This is where you target a certain type of customer. The more specific your product or service is, the better. Chances are, you will find a group of people that will love your niche product because it solves their unique pain points—and they won’t be able to find it anywhere else.
Think of YouTube. Several years ago, when the internet was not as big as it is now, Youtube founders just wanted a simple solution to share videos. Believe it or not, that was a specific niche back in 2005. And by just focusing on that one pain point, they became bigger and bigger until eventually, they weeded out any competition.
The secret to the success of niche businesses is the community. If a niche creates a community, it becomes a super strong force, stronger than just a group of customers.
“I’m too late to the party.”
There is a Ted Talk by psychologist and New York Times best-selling author Adam Grant in which he states that he had a failed opportunity to invest in a startup that became really successful and influential, Warby Parker.
We’re talking about a startup that was valued at $1.2 billion last year and is always the comparison or benchmark when it comes to e-commerce startups.
One of the reasons Adam didn’t back them was because the idea had already been done. But even though Warby Parker may not have been the very first of its type, they outshone their competition by being much better.
Think of why you buy one product over another one. It’s not because one company was “first.” It’s because one of the products was better. You are never too late ‘cause the party keeps going.
“I already have a job.”
Every decision has its pros and cons, including the decision of whether to leave your full-time job to start your own online business.
You might say that having a job is more financially secure than having a business. However, having your own business can potentially lead to more financial success than would ever be possible as an employee. The more sources of income you have, the more failsafes you have if an emergency happens.
There’s nothing wrong with having a 9 to 5. But the fact that you’re thinking about starting a business is a good sign that you want more. Whether it’s experience, control, financial success or an outlet for your passion, you want more.
Plus, consider that running an e-commerce business isn’t always full time. You might not have to choose between your job and your business. You can have your online store on the side and still keep your job.
Finally, remember outsourcing. You don’t have to do it all on your own. Other people can do some of the tasks for you.
“It’s kind of risky.”
It seems overwhelming and really uncertain to start a business online because the digital world can feel volatile.
Yet, all businesses are started on a gamble. You can’t change the external factors that could affect the success of your store, but you can prepare for these possibilities and make your likelihood to succeed higher.
Risks are always there and struggles will come, but smart businesses will last through proper preparation and relying on the right mindset.
“I’m not sure if it will work.” Or, “I’m not sure if it will pay off.”
This is the story of MVMT watches: They started with two broke college dropouts, Jake Kassan and Kramer LaPlante. These guys founded a watch company even though they would be competing against thousands of already established watch brands.
The odds of them succeeding were so low even adventurous investors didn’t support them. But they persisted.
Now it’s the fastest growing watch brand in the world, and last year, it was bought by Movado for $100 million. If that isn’t e-commerce success, I don’t know what is. Some might even say that profits for e-commerce are inevitable.
Still not satisfied? Look at these other stories to get inspired.
- 5 Of The Most Successful Shopify Stores To Model After
- 50 Successful Shopify Stores & What You Can Learn from Them
- Top 25+ Best Shopify Stores To Learn From In 2019
- The Finger Painting Artist: How Iris Scott Made a Career Finger Painting
As Jake Kassan would put it, just start trying.
“I don’t have time.”
Running an e-commerce store, like anything else, is all about proper time management. If you look at what you really need to focus on and what you actually spend your time doing, you might be surprised at how much time you could redirect to your priorities.
Consider the heartwarming story from Forbes about a couple who built an online store to spend more time with their family. Whether it’s an all-in focus or just a side hustle, having an online store doesn’t have to consume much of your time. It’ll require some time, as all things, but maybe not as much as you think.
Make money, not excuses.
“Make money, not excuses” was said in a video by Dan Lok, a business magnate and global educator. It’s easy to come up with things that could make you doubt yourself, and it’s hard to take risks. But to be successful, you need to take action.
In the Ted Talk we mentioned earlier, Adam Grant also described two more traits of people he calls the “Originals.” According to Adam, Originals are often full of doubts and fears and have lots of bad ideas. But ultimately, they succeed.
Why? Because, sometimes, these negative things result in positive outcomes. For example, doubting an idea can actually be good, because it makes you think of other ideas or workarounds that strengthen the original idea.
And a little self-doubt is healthy to keep you in check. Confidence is always good, but too much confidence can lead to unnecessary losses.
Fearing failure is normal for all people, but what differentiates successful people from everyone else is being more afraid of not trying at all. In other words, successful people fear regret more than failure.
Speaking of failure, that too is necessary to be successful. What many of us don’t see is that below a successful idea is a foundation of thousands of bad ideas.
Mindset Matters the Most
Taking action to start your dream e-commerce business is all about having the right mindset. The right mindset can transform ordinary people into successful founders and possibly even disruptors of industry.
So, even when you have doubts, try using your negative thoughts as inspiration.
But if your doubts are preventing you from starting your online store, head back to where we’ve listed some of our favorite Shopify success stories. Hopefully, their triumphs will motivate you to just try—today.