What Every Potential Mompreneurs Needs To Know About Starting an Online Business
Always wanted to own your own business but the thought of being away from your children while making a large investment into a new business venture scare you? Consider starting an online business. An online business can be a very appealing and safe way to start a business. It allows moms to be home with their children while still having the opportunity to be an entrepreneur. The running of an online business allows you to work from home while creating your own schedule. The initial investment can be very little and your monthly expenses are minimal. Most importantly an ecommerce business can be run anywhere there is Internet access which allows you to be home with your children and even work while on vacation.
What You Need To Run an Online Business
With very little equipment you could be running your own ecommerce business out of the confines of your home. Ideally, a home office is best but I started my first ecommerce business from my kitchen table. So, just clean organized spaces where you can keep your computer and files. You will, of course, need a computer. I prefer a lap top as it allows me to work from anywhere in the house or in various coffee shops. Of course you will also need an Internet connection and I highly recommend a high speed connection. As moms we need to work fast and as efficiently as possible and high speed Internet allows that to happen. A printer is nice to own and will be useful for printing whatever documents you may need. A fax machine is not essential. With programs that offer online faxing, such as “eFax,” owning a fax machine is no longer critical. Believe it or not, that is basically it from the standpoint of hardware and connectivity.
Stocking Your Website with Product
The most important step in owning an ecommerce business is stocking your online store with product. Depending on the industry you get involved in, you might find that you are able to drop ship versus holding product in house. Drop shipping means you hold no inventory. How drop shipping works is once a consumer makes a purchase on your site you send the order directly over to the vendor. The vendor fills the order and sends it directly to your customer.
When the customer makes the purchase on your site the money goes directly into your business bank account. When the vendor ships the order out, they will at that time charge your card. You pay the whole price for the product to the vendor. The customer pays retail price. Your profit margin is the difference between the two.
Daily Tasks of Running an Online Business
When running an ecommerce business, daily tasks have to be completed each day such as checking orders and answering emails. I would allow 30 – 45 minutes when you first start out to complete these tasks. You must answer emails each day as you want to offer your customers the very best in customer service. What can be done in your own time is search engine optimization, merchandising, and marketing. Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your site so when someone types in keywords that relate to the products you sell on your site then your site will come up high in the search engines. This is part of the daily running of your ecommerce business and is critical to your success.
Merchandising is a term I like to use when referring to updating your product, adding new product, and changing out the product on your front page. You want your site to be dynamic and interesting. Changing out the front page and adding new product makes your site interesting to potential customers.
The monthly expense of running an ecommerce business can be very minimal. Some of your fixed costs include monthly hosting which on average is $10.00 per month, a merchant account which on average is around $25.00 and month, your newsletter providers which is about $5.00 per month and your 800 number which can vary but with services like “Kall8.com” you can keep that cost to around $5.00. So for around $45.00 per month you can run your ecommerce store. By just obtaining 1 sale per month you could cover the cost of that overhead.
Software and Security
Everybody asks about additional software they must add to their home computer or laptop to run help them run a store. That’s one of the benefits of running an ecommerce business; the software applications that are so critical to your success are ASP or Application Service Provider software. This means the tools you need are online and are attached to the backend of your website. You don’t need to purchase any software and load it onto your computer; everything is in an online environment. The “chain link” is what we like to call it and refers to the succession of links starting from your website to your bank account. It goes like this: your website and store admin are hooked or linked, your store admin is hooked to your shopping cart, your shopping cart is hooked to your gateway, and your gateway is hooked to your merchant services provider, which is hooked to your bank account. All of these critical pieces are online and accessible to you by a unique user and pass with 128 bit encryption, so it’s very secure.
Security problems such as viruses can be a concern because you are online often perhaps doing research on your online marketing rankings such as search engine optimization and pay per click or searching for new vendors to help expand your product line. As always, you have to be very careful of accepting emails from unknown senders. If you don’t know the sender, don’t open the email. Also, be wary of the occasional popup. You can combat this by turning on your “popup blocker”, cleaning out your cache, and deleting your stored historical web pages once in a while. I would recommend purchasing a good and reputable virus scanning software such as McAfee or Norton. It’s hard to go wrong with those two. Also, McAfee offers a free virus sweep that you can use once every couple of months that is very easy to download and run. All that being said, your specific ecommerce work, such as editing your site and shopping cart, viewing orders in your shopping cart, answering` client questions with your gateway, or reviewing the money in your merchant account prior to it being passed on to your bank account, is all done in secure user and password generated sites.
Running an ecommerce business can allow the busiest of moms to raise a family while running a successful business. It also allows a mother to have a creative outlet while expanding her skills as the CEO of both her family and her business.