This is an inspiring guest post from a startup e-tailer.
I’m Ilona, I’m 25 years old and currently setting up All Made Locally, an e-tailer selling all the best British designed and made fashion, jewellery and homeware. My aim is to build a truly fantastic business that can provide jobs for the future both in terms of supporting British manufacturers and recruiting to expand All Made Locally into a solid national brand. I have big plans for the future, but now is the story of how I’m starting my own business.
When starting an online retailer the key thing to remember is that your homepage is your shop window, and the rest of the site is your store and sales staff all in one. Looking at other retailers and making notes on what I liked and didn’t like was not only a big help to me in getting things clear in my head, but also helped my designer when it came to the look and feel for All Made Locally. Don’t get caught up in the way it looks though, it must also be easy to use with good functionality. I took time to choose the right piece of software that had all the functionality I wanted to create a site I would love to shop in.
As a self funded start up, the hardest thing I have found is timing things so that I have services up and running in time, but without starting to pay for things too early. Some I got right and some I got wrong. I would recommend to anyone starting their own e-business that having a fairly strict launch date in mind and then working back from there is probably the best way to go about it. Your design agency will be able to feed into this with their schedules and this will help dictate when you set up things like PO Boxes, PayPal, business bank accounts, insurance etc.
Sometimes starting your own business can be a bit overwhelming, but there is a wealth of information out there on start-ups and you will find that a lot of the people who have started them are more than happy to have a chat with you. Don’t ignore the big players though. There is a reason they are successful and although you might not be able to do things on their scale, there are still ideas you can take and make your own. Seminars and events like The Big eCommerce Conference provide a great way of learning more about the thinking behind how the big brands operate, as well as being a great networking opportunity.
Starting your own e-tailer is hard work but great fun. It’s a constant learning experience, but as long as your remember to put the customer at the heart of your business you should see the rewards.