Starting your own online shop (eCommerce store) is a fantastic way to supplement your income and it can be a lot of fun. Based on my own experience, I’ve complied a list of steps that you can take to start your own web-based store:
1. Decide what you’re going to sell and decide how it will be manufactured
Do you know what you want to sell? Are you going to make the goods yourself, have them manufactured in Australia or overseas, or are you going to buy existing products and re-sell them? If applicable, do you know how you will import the goods into Australia? Do you know what your minimum costs will be and do you have the funds to pay for them?
2. Test your market
Do you know if there is a market for your product? Do you know who your target market is? Do you know who your competitors are? Once you’ve paid to manufacture and import your goods, and then add mark-up and postage, will your prices be comparable to those of your competitors? And is there enough demand to support another business entering the marketplace? Does your product have a unique selling point (USP) that will set it apart from its competitors?
If possible, buy or make a small quantity of the goods that you plan to sell and try selling them on Gumtree, Ebay, or Facebook. Try experimenting with different prices and see how quickly they sell. Yes, might have to buy the items at retail and sell below cost, but that is preferable to investing time and money in goods that people aren’t going to buy!
Once you’ve confirmed that there is a market for your product, you can safely start making or ordering stock.
2. Choose and register your business name
Once you know what you’re going to sell, and you’ve confirmed that there is a market for them, you’ll need to choose a name for your business. It’s a good idea to choose something memorable, that preferably tells you something about the business. Avoid strange spellings or uncommon words because that makes it harder for people to find your business online. Check that your chosen name isn’t already registered, and check that your preferred domain names are available.
Once you’ve chosen your name, you’ll need to apply for an ABN (if you don’t already have one) and register your business name. At this stage it is a good idea to visit an accountant as they can help you set-up your business correctly and give you some information about your tax obligations.
3. Set-up your online store
When setting up your website there are a number of different options ranging from cheap to expensive:
- Web Design Agency (or Freelance Web Designer)
If you can afford to spend $5-$10k, arguably the best and safest option is to hire a reputable web design agency to design and develop your website for you. They will be able to design a website with conversion and SEO in mind, and they’ll be able to take care of then entire process from start to finish.
- eCommerce Solution
Another option is to create your own website using an ecommerce solution such as Shopify. This is a quick and easy way to get your website up and running as soon as possible, and no experience is required. You are charged a monthly fee, so in the long run these services usually end up costing you more, but you can always setup your website this way to begin with and go to a web agency later down the track.
- DIY Website
If you have some technical savvy or you’re prepared to learning, the cheapest option is to set up your ecommerce store yourself. You can use free CMS software such as WordPress along with a free ecommerce toolkit such as Woocommerce, however you will need to learn how to implement this software. There are also a lot of security considerations to take into account if you choose the DIY option. Ensure you have a SSL certificate and use a reputable payment gateway.
Not sure which option you should choose? Think of it this way, if you were to open a bricks-and-mortar version of your shop, what would you do? Would you rent a great looking shop in a great location and hire a professional to do the fit out? Or would a cheap warehouse be more suitable for your business? This might help to give you an idea of which option would work best for you.
4. Start marketing your online store
Now is the time to start implementing a multi-faceted marketing plan. This will be limited to your time and budget, but some suggestions include: Search Engine Optiomisation (SEO), Google Adwords, Social Media Marketing (SSM), blogging, and advertising through both traditional and digital channels.
5. Monitor your progress and continue to grow and develop your business
You can use free analytics software, such as Google Analytics, to monitor traffic to your website and track how people navigate the site. This will help to determine areas that you need to improve on. For example, if you’re getting lots of traffic to your website but your conversion figures are poor, maybe you need to redesign your homepage or have another look at your pricing.
I’m a HUGE fan of Skillshare (and self-education in general). Here’s a round-up of my favourite Skillshare tutorials for creatives:
Not a member of SkillShare? You can sign up here.
I started a Gratitude Jar at the start of the year as one of my new years resolutions, and it’s one of the best things I have ever done.
All you have to do is take a moment each day to write down something that you are grateful for and put it in a jar. It’s a great exercise, because it forces you to be mindful of the positive things that happen throughout your day. And when you’re having a particularly bad day, you can have a look at all the positive things that have happened to you.
To make your own Gratitude Jar all you need is:
- An old jar
- Scrapes paper to write on
- Ribbon and a label to decorate (optional)
But I don’t have anything to be grateful for!
Really? The simple fact that you’re reading this, means that you either have (or have access to) a computer with internet, which means you have electricity, and you’re probably sitting on a pretty comfy chair too. You can find an almost infinite number of things to be grateful for by focusing on the little things that you usually take for granted. A few examples of some of my own gratitude’s include:
- Didn’t have to wait in line at the coffee shop! And my soy latte tasted AMAZING!
- Enjoyed a delicious Eggplant Rollatini for dinner tonight!
- Relaxing Friday night eating home made popcorn and watching a movie with my husband.
Do you have a gratitude jar? If so, has it had a positive effect on your attitude or outlook on life? Please tell me about it in the comments!
Quitting your day job isn’t going to stop your bills from coming in, so before you hand in your resignation you need to know how you’re going to be able to cope financially!
1. Start earning money on your own
Before you even begin to start thinking about quitting your day job, you need to figure out what you’re going to do to earn money once you quit. And once you’ve figured that out – START DOING IT RIGHT AWAY. Do not fall into the trap of daydreaming about all the wonderful, glorious things you will do once you’re free from the shackles of the 9 to 5. You need to get started right away. It means you’ll start earning extra income that you can put towards savings or paying off debt, and you’ll be able to start gauging whether or not your idea is actually going to work as a substitute for your day job.
Do not, I repeat, do not say that you don’t have time. Start doing it on your lunch break. Start doing it at 5am. If you can’t or won’t make time, self-employment probably isn’t for you. I worked as a freelance graphic designer while working full time at a design agency. If I had to work back until 7pm at my day job and then come home and do 6 hours of freelance work, then so be it. If you want something badly enough you will make it work. And if not, maybe self-employment isn’t the right choice for you.
1. Know exactly how much you money you NEED to spend each week
Write out a list of all your weekly expenses. Calculate the weekly cost of any other expenses that are coming up in next year and add those too. Write down essential expenses only. But when I say essential, I mean things that are essential to you. Be honest with yourself. If you lost your job tomorrow, what would you viva video app keep spending money on no matter what? If you know that there is just no way to you could give up your nightly glass (or bottle) of red wine, it has to go on the list. It’s better to be honest with yourself now than go and quit your job and realise you’re spending a lot more than you thought you would be.
3. Wipe out your debt and dramatically cut down on your expenses
If you’re like most people, your list of weekly expenses from step 1 is probably very long and very expensive. Essentials like rent/mortgage, car repayments, credit card repayments, food, fuel, and insurance. And then the not-essential-but-essential-to-me expenses like take away coffees, hairdressing appointments, clothes, takeaway, wine, etc. These types of expenses are all pretty typical, but unfortunately all these “essential” expenses play a major role in keeping people trapped in their 9-5 jobs, and most of these expenses aren’t even “essential” at all.
I’m not going to go into depth on how to wipe out your debt and drastically cut down on your expenses, because there is already plenty of great literature on the subject. Here are a couple of great books that I highly recommend:
- The Barefoot Investor, by Scott Pape
- The Total Money Makeover, By Dave Ramsey
- Money, A Love Story: Untangling Your Finances, Creating the Life You Really Want, and Living Your Purpose. by Kate Northrup
2. Save enough money to cover your essential expenses for 6 months OR already be earning at least that amount of money through self employment
By the time you’ve finished with step 2, this goal should be pretty achievable. If for example you’ve followed the above steps and you’re feeling confident that you can survive on $500 a week, you should be looking to have at least $12,000 in a high-interest savings account before you go and hand in your resignation. This is a very, very conservative estimate. It’s assuming that no major expenses are going to come up in the next 6 months, It implies your router dlink login administrator board administration address. These days all organizations occupied with the assembling of gadgets and it’s assuming that it is only going to take you 6 months to consistently start earning this amount of money each week. Ideally you should have a combination of the two – be earning enough money to cover your expenses, and have a good chunk of money in a high interest savings account as well.
1. Don’t be in such a rush to settle down
In my early 20s I was determined to settle down as soon as possible. I was engaged at 21, bought a house at 22, and by the age of 23 I was working full time, paying a mortgage and raising 3 foster babies. Maybe I would feel differently if I hadn’t found myself right back where I started at the age of 26, but I now wonder why I was in such a rush to have all those things so early in life. If I could do it all over again, I would spent my early 20s single and traveling.
2. Travel as much as you can
Traveling is something that I didn’t do in my early 20s because I was too busy playing house. But I took my first trip overseas when I was 25 and I loved it. I’ve now been on 6 overseas trips and the only regret I have is that I didn’t start traveling sooner. Travel while you still have the time and the energy, and your standards are low enough that you find $3-a-night-backpackers’ appealing.
2. People that are supposed to be older and wiser than you don’t necessarily have all the answers
When you’re young, looking to older people for advice is a good idea, but don’t take everything they say too seriously. I made far too many bad decisions because I took stupid advice from stupid people. Just because someone is older or more successful than you doesn’t mean they have all answers, or they know what is right for you. Listen to people, but trust your own instincts also.
3. Follow your passion and stop worrying about what people think
Bill Gates’ first business was a failure, Steve Jobs was fired from his own company, Albert Einstein was told he would never amount to anything, Steven Kings’ first book was rejected 30 times. The point is, even the most successful people had doubters in their lives. Just keep following your passion. At best you’ll be a huge success, at worst you’ll get to spend your life doing what you love.
4. Avoid debt as much as possible
Yes I know that this is hard, but debt can be your worst enemy. Being debt-free gives you so much more financial freedom and opens up so many more options for you. You can save for something in far less time than it takes to pay off a loan. I know that catching the bus while you save for a car sucks, but paying off a car loan for twice as long sucks too. Learn about compounding interest, and never, ever, ever use credit cards for things aren’t absolutely essential. You’ll thank yourself when you’re older.
5. You are NOT too old for a career change!
When I was 24, I decided I wanted to completely change my career and started studying to become a graphic designer. Many, many people told me I was “too old” to change careers. That’s just nuts. Follow your heart, do what you love. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already spent thousands of dollars studying for something else. That money is gone regardless of what you do with your life, and sticking with a career you don’t love isn’t going to get it back.
6. Ignore the haters
People will bring you down. That’s just an unavoidable fact of life. But the reality is that most of the time they are just reacting to their own insecurities or they’re jealous of you. In my 20s I wasted far too much time worrying about what other girls had to say about me. These days, I looked back at those same girls and I can see them for what they really were – miserable, insecure girls who tried to bring themselves up by bringing others down.
7. Stay out of other people’s drama
Whether it’s a friend, lover or anyone else in your life. You’ve got your own life to live, getting caught up in other people’s drama is not going to help you, and it’s not going to help them either. Offer your support, but don’t let yourself become emotionally invested.
8. If a relationship is meant to be, it won’t be a battle
No relationship is perfect, but if you’re really meant to be with someone, things will just come naturally. In previous relationships, everyday there seemed to be some new issue or problem to deal with, but I just thought that was part of being in a relationship. But now that I’m older and married to a great person, life is just so easy, and I wonder why I used to fight so hard for relationships that clearly weren’t meant to be.
9. You opinions are going to change A LOT as you get older
How you feel about things and what you believe in your early 20s is probably going to change dramatically as you age. You don’t know all the answers, so don’t be so headstrong. Keep an open mind, and don’t dismiss other people’s beliefs or give them a hard time – you might feel the same way in a few years.
10. Learn to cook
I seriously wasted far too much money on crappy food in my late teens and early 20s because I didn’t know how to cook. Teaching myself to cook at the age of 21 was one of the best decisions I ever made. Teaching yourself to cook is easy. The internet is teaming with a virtually limitless amount of recipes, and you can watch cooking demonstrations on Youtube. You first attempts will suck. But you will get better. And you will save a ton of money, know exactly what you’re putting in your body, and potentially impress a love interest.
11. Not getting what you want isn’t the end of the world
From the age of 15, I was adamant that having children was going to be my number one priority. I was going to get married, buy a house, and have at least one child by the age of 20. When I turned 20 and was still childless (not to mention partner-less and house-less), I decided I would have at least one child by the age of 25. When I turned 25 I decided I absolutely had to have a baby before I turned 30. And now, here I am about to turn 30 and still don’t have any children, but I’ve come to accept that things don’t always turn out the way that you want them to, but that’s OK.
12. Be nice to everyone
At best, you’ll make someone’s day, at worst, you can go to sleep that night knowing that you injected some happiness into the world. I don’t care of someone is being a dickhead. Just be nice – you never know what people are secretly going through.
13. Fake it ’til you make it
I know that this advice gets tossed around a lot, but I never listened to it in my 20s, because I really didn’t like the idea of being fake. I wanted to be authentic about who I was. It took the better part of my 20s to realise that it’s not about being in-authentic, it’s not about faking who you are, it’s about faking how confident you are about who are you.
It also took me the better part of my 20s to realise that the people I most admired, who seemed to be the most successful and well-adjusted, were in fact faking it too, and were just as insecure and clueless as I was. Which leads me to my next point…
14. Don’t compare yourself to other people – you never know their whole story
In my 20s I wasted far too much time on jealousy. I though the people around me were doing so much better than I was. But things aren’t always the way that they seem.
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” – Steven Furtick
I got a huge wake up call when I went through a messy break-up at the age of 26. Some of the same people that I’d been so jealous of started to confide in me that their own relationships, and other elements of their lives, weren’t as wonderful as I thought they were. I’d worked so hard to create the illusion that my own relationship and my life was perfect, but it never occurred to me that the other people around me might be doing the same thing.
15. Take a moment each day to focus on the positive
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day struggles of life, but taking a moment each day to focus on the positive things in your life can help to remind you how lucky you are. Personally I have a gratitude jar that I like to add to every day.
16. Forgive yourself for stupid mistakes
You’re going to make a lot of mistakes. It’s an inevitable part of life. Dwelling on them or giving yourself a hard time isn’t going to change anything. So acknowledge what you’ve learnt, forgive yourself, and move on.
17. Regularly do things that scare you a little bit
Take a hula hooping class, sign up for a fun-run, go to a party by yourself. Do anything that will push you out of your comfort zone. It will make a you a more resilient person and you’ll probably end up having lots of fun!
18. Don’t waste time on friendships that don’t have a positive impact on your life
Life is far too short to waste time on toxic friendships. People that constantly inject negativity into your life or try to bring you down are not worth it. There’s plenty of ways to make new friends – join a book club, join a sports team, join an online forum, or hell, just be your own best friend.
19. Start taking care of your body now
Aging has a cumulative affect. You may not notice any ill effects from your crappy lifestyle now, but you will. Stop smoking, cut down on your drinking, eat your veges, exercise regularly and avoid getting sunburnt. You’ll spend the next 80 years of your life thanking yourself.
20. Life is not fair and no one owes you any favours
In my 20s I wasted far too much time believing that if I was a good person the universe would shine down on me and I would be blessed with all that I desired. But guess what? Life is not fair. Crappy things happen all the time and that sucks, but that’s life.
No one owes you any favours. If you want something its up to you to work your butt off to get it, and even then things might not work out the way that you want them to, but hopefully you’ll learn some valuable lessons along the way.