Mumpreneurs: Top Ecommerce Tips on Getting Started
Chris Barling outlines why having children is no barrier for succeeding in business
Building any business on a shoestring is hard even when you don’t have a family in tow. But if you are a mumpreneur then you have to do all of this whilst keeping the kids happy. But don’t let this stop you. I’ve been involved as a business founder and investor in small companies since the mid-1990s, specialising on ecommerce, and I believe there are some basic principles you can follow that will help you to achieve online success despite the pressures.
Ecommerce has three huge advantages for mumpreneurs: the business can be run from home; you can fit the work around your family’s needs; and it doesn’t take as much capital to start as conventional businesses.
Find a focus
Successful website owners tend to be good at one particular thing. For instance, they find a line of products that connects with a distinct and identifiable group of customers and capitalise on it. In this way, successful small businesses tend to enjoy larger shares of smaller markets. Trying to be all things to all people is a one-way ticket to oblivion, so do your research and find your niche.
Is e-commerce right for you?
The web is great if you are selling goods that customers do not need to touch, taste or smell before buying, and you are doing so at a fixed price. It’s especially good if your products are hard for customers to find on the high street (or online).
Your customers enjoy the convenience of being able to shop when it suits them, while you benefit from a level of automation and low start up investment that keeps your costs in check.
Watch your costs
There are plenty of ecommerce products that enable you to build ecommerce stores without having to learn how to be an IT specialist. These range from hosted offerings that are usually available for low monthly fees, or packages such as our own SellerDeck, where you pay a one-off licence fee for the software. Search Google for “ecommerce software” for alternatives and trials.
Marketplace, website, or both?
“Online marketplaces” on the likes of eBay, Etsy and Amazon have become a key feature of selling online. They allow you to start selling straight away and, more importantly, you will see visitors to your store from the moment you launch. However, you will face more price competition and these companies take a goodly slice of your margin.
Choose an appropriate payment solution
Whatever you sell, you need to be able to take card payments and it’s essential to make your customers feel secure about this. The best place to start is with PayPal, especially if you’re a novice. Though originally designed for individuals selling and buying goods on eBay, it is now ideal for start-ups.
Marketing rules supreme
Search engines are the main source of new website visitors, bar none, so learn how they work (at least at a basic level).
Then you are well placed to start on search engine marketing and SEO. Success lies in having good quality content, and getting links from relevant sites that are complementary to your business.
Consider pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. Search engines allow advertisements to be placed within results. It can also be a way of super-charging your progress, so learn how to use this effectively.
There are lots of forums, blogs and social media where people discuss things that are related to what you sell. Seek out those that specialise in your niche and join in. But don’t be overly sales-focused in your posts and comments or people will ignore you.
Get your priorities right
Running a business is both great fun and highly challenging, but you need to remember the importance of your family too. Don’t forget to talk to them; explain why you need to spend the hours you do at your computer and ask for their support (or even some help on certain tasks). After all, the money you make will hopefully benefit them too.
If you want more practical tips on running an ecommerce business, then you may want to read other articles I, and my colleagues at SellerDeck have published on Is4Profit. Type “SellerDeck” for a full list.