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How to start a business online

With the Covid-19 pandemic creating a world of uncertainty in 2020, you may think it’s not the best time to start a business. But there’s an opportunity in every crisis. Just ask Bill Gates—he co-founded Microsoft during a recession in the 1970s. 

As more and more businesses are closing their premises and getting employees to work from home, this could be exactly the right time to start a business online. Whether you’re floating around ideas or have a product good to go, we’ll point you in the right direction. 

Shopify

For small to medium-sized businesses looking to set up an online store at an affordable price, Shopify is a great option. Favoured by some 1+ million brands, it’ll help with everything from setting up your website to completing sales. 

What’s good about it? 

There are lots of reasons to choose Shopify when starting your online business. For starters, you don’t have to be a tech wizard to build your website. They’ve got a great range of templates that can easily be modified with no programming knowledge. 

It’s really easy to manage the business, too. Adding products, dealing with payments, processing orders, shipping—it’s all straightforward to navigate. And if you do come unstuck, they’ve got 24-hour customer service and a useful blog full of guides to help you out.  

Shopify will also accommodate your business whatever its level of growth, so there’s no need to look elsewhere if you suddenly hit the big time. 

Any drawbacks?

While the basic package that Shopify offers is reasonably priced, the best features only come with the more expensive plans. 

Also, setting up multilingual stores can be tricky and costly, although apps such as Langify can help with this. 

Amazon FBA

If you’re a budding entrepreneur who wants to get your product out to a large audience, this could be for you. FBA stands for “Fulfillment by Amazon”. You send your products to Amazon, and they deal with the rest: storage, delivery, customer service and returns. 

What are the benefits? 

With Amazon taking care of the packaging and shipping, you can focus entirely on your product and scaling the business. They also provide excellent customer service—another thing less to worry about. 

You’ve also got a ready-made brand name—everyone’s heard of Amazon. And everyone uses them, which means you’ve got a massive consumer market you can tap into. 

Fast delivery times with Amazon Prime and the ability to sell across Europe easily are bonuses, too. Equally, not having to deal with the hassle of returns is a real draw. 

What about the disadvantages? 

Any products you don’t sell will accumulate in Amazon warehouses, which may be hard to keep track of. Also, not dealing with customers means that you don’t have a record of your clientele. This makes it harder to target customers with products they might like in the future. 

You’ll need a certain amount of capital to get started, and there are also the relatively high costs of Amazon’s services to consider. 

Dropshipping

Want to start a business without your own product? Consider dropshipping. You don’t have an inventory of stock you’re selling. Rather, you buy the item from a third party—most commonly a wholesaler or manufacturer. Once you provide them with the customer’s details, they send the product directly to them. 

What are the advantages? 

You don’t need to put a big initial investment into the business or worry about premises—you can do it all from the comfort of your own home, or anywhere in the world, in fact. 

There are fewer responsibilities to worry about. When you get an order, all you have to do is pass that on to the third party. They’ll prepare the order, send it and handle any returns. You just need to make sure your online store is maintained and up to date. 

Compared with most businesses, you’re saving a lot of time. Packing the product, shipping it out, managing stock—it’s all done by your suppliers. You could even have other businesses or jobs on the go with the time you save. 

Are there any downsides? 

It’s a competitive market, so chances are there’ll be several other dropshippers trying to sell the same or similar products as you. As a result, the profit margins aren’t huge—you’re not going to sell something for £20 when customers can buy it at half the price elsewhere. 

Also, you can’t always provide top-notch customer service. As you haven’t actually seen the product, if a customer has a complaint about what they’ve received it’s tricky to respond to their queries.

So with that in mind, we hope you’re a little more clued up on how to proceed with your online business. We wish you the best of luck.

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2020-11-23

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