Read my UK family lifestyle, making money online & healthy living blog here:

Vegan Subscription Boxes For Everyone

 RSS Feed

Category: Business: Work from Home, Freelancing, Self-Employment, Home Business, Marketing, Etc

  1. Tips to make starting a home-based ecommerce business go smoothly

    Posted on

    You should be applauded if you have decided to take the plunge into the world of home-based businesses and in particular, selling online. While such a concept seemed nothing more than a dream only a handful of years ago, nowadays with the rise of easy to use ecommerce platforms and ability to make money by selling on various marketplaces, people from all walks of life have already began to enjoy a considerable amount of success. For many, selling online is the dream and running a home-based business is even more desirable.  Still, the profession is not without its pitfalls and there are reasons why some would-be entrepreneurs fail to make a mark within this community. In this blog post we’ll explore together what some of the most common mistakes to avoid are and how you can choose the best ecommerce platform for your needs.

    Tips to make starting a home-based ecommerce business go smoothly - photo o

    Image

    Learning from the mistakes of others 

    Before we take a look at what defines an excellent e-commerce platform, we need to highlight some of the pitfalls that have hindered others. It can be argued that the most common is not developing a clear "game plan" in terms of what you are looking to achieve. Do you desire financial freedom, an additional source of income or is your main concern leaving your current full-time job? Honestly answering these questions is the first step towards knowing what the road ahead has in store and beginning to understand what your game plan should look like. 

    Another mistake is failing to identify your target audience. How can you ever hope to successfully market a product if you are uncertain of who you are trying to connect with? This is akin to attending an archery class blindfolded and expecting to hit the bull's-eye every time. While the Socratic expression "know thyself" is important, it serves little purpose if you are unfamiliar with your potential customers.  Decide who your customers are, where they are and what they want.  Then you can have a clear marketing strategy aimed at your ideal customer.

    The third potential downfall involves the e-commerce platform that you choose to use. The platform you use is not just a place to sell the products, but also a place to market the products.  The platform needs to work well and the shopfront look good in order to sell your products.   Outdated, generic or otherwise digitally challenging frameworks may only serve to complicate the ordering and checkout process; inevitably leading to lost customers and lower conversion rates. Let's now look at what defines a worthwhile provider. 

    Tips to make starting a home-based ecommerce business go smoothly 

    Choosing the right e-commerce platform

    One of the most important things to do when deciding to sell online, is to pick the right software and platform to sell on.  Many companies offer a free trial so you can test out their platform before committing to anything.  This gives you a chance to play around with the software and see if it’s exactly what you’re looking for before making a commitment.

    Shopify is considered to be one of the best and most intuitive e-commerce solutions on the market today. This arises from the fact that its tools and applications are very easy to work with (from the point of view of the website owner as well as the online customer). Some of the key features which have served to define this system include (but are by no means limited to): 

    • The ability to market your product across multiple online channels.
    • Built-in bar code and QR code creators.
    • 24/7 customer support.
    • Customised domain names.
    • A host of themes to choose from.
    • Centralised control of inventory, sales and other critical metrics.

    You are also able to customize this e-commerce interface with your own branding, so the customer will enjoy a seamless experience across every step of the engagement process. 

    These are all definitely features you should look for when setting up your ecommerce business.  One key feature is stock control.  My first ecommerce store did not come with stock control which meant I could not limit the number of items sold to match with what I had in stock – clearly I didn’t stay with this provider as it would have caused so many issues.  Automatic stock control is so important.

    Customer support is also so important as many of us home-based businesses are beginners, simply learning as we go along.  We have no idea how to build websites or code and even learning to use a new platform can often be overwhelming.  Ensuring a company has fast helpful customer support is essential.

    By picking the right platform you will relieve much of the stress of setting up your own business and allow yourself to focus on more important things to do with the daily running and marketing.  Stay-at-home businesses are here to stay and starting off on the right foot will give you a head start over your competitors.

    Related blog posts

    Why digital marketing skills are essential today 
    How small businesses can use the internet effectively
    7 tips for a successful small business
    Why your small business needs an online presence

    5 ways to manage your time effectively when working from home
    How to create your own website
    Things I've Learnt from Running My Own Shop Business (the things no one tells you)
    Tips to make your small business run smoothly

    Tips to make starting a home-based ecommerce business go smoothly

    Collaboration

  2. Tips to make your small business run smoothly

    Posted on

    Running a small business takes a vast amount of effort and is often all time consuming.  Luckily with the advances in technology nowadays and with a few organisational methods, there are plenty of ways you can ensure your business runs smoothly and save some time in the process.  Finding some time each month to do the below will help you create a better work and life balance, as well as stay on top of admin, marketing and more.

    Tips to make your small business run smoothly

    Photo by William Iven 

    Stay on top of your inbox

    One thing I’m always keen to stay on top of and which helps me stay organised is my email inbox.  It can be overwhelming when your inbox is bursting at the seams and you’ve no idea who to respond to next.  Make use of subfolders and organise your mail in a logical way.  Use flags or stars to highlight urgent mail or work that needs completing urgently.  If you get a lot of junk then delete it, filter repetitive junk to the trash so it no longer wastes your time or simply unsubscribe.  If there’s no unsubscribe option then reply to ask to be removed from the mailing list if the mail is of no relevance or use to you.  There’s a lot of time to be saved by keeping your mailbox as tidy and efficient as possible.

    That said, make sure you are also using a reliable email provider.  Zoho is great for businesses of different sizes and can be linked to your domain with several users.

    Organised mail box = organised mind = organised business.

    Utilise available software

    There’s lots of software on the market today that is designed to make the lives of business owners easier, whether you’re a one-man band, or have started to grow.  Quickbooks, for example, is an easy to use accounting software that I see a lot of professional bloggers using.

    If your business is of a size where you have employed staff (congratulations) then you may want to implement some software to effectively and properly manage things like HR and payroll.  This will make things easier for you, can be cost effective and save time.  Click here to see the latest HR software.

    Make use of schedulers

    We all know marketing on social media is important to reach customers nowadays, but it’s so easy to be sucked into each channel and waste valuable hours each day.  Instead have a marketing plan for your social channels and set up the tweets, pins or instas in advance.  There are lots of social media schedulers on the market today including Tailwind for Pinterest and Social Oomph for Twitter.  These platforms will save hours each week, which can be instead spent on more pressing tasks.

    Keep on top of bookkeeping

    An important part of running your business is staying on top of your accounts and tracking cash flow.  You need to keep vigilant records of all incomings and expenses and ensure your bank accounts tally up.  Keep all your receipts and invoices so they are easily accessible for each tax year.  This is a task that I stay on top of as and when incomings and outgoings happen each day, but if not possible to be a daily task then a few hours per month should definitely be dedicated.  As mentioned above Quickbooks or other software is available to make the process a lot easier and to keep things digital if this is your preferred method, but a spreadsheet can be just as good if you’re a whiz with formulas and able to keep it updated yourself regularly.  

    Chase and pay invoices

    Cash flow is king and that’s important from both sides.  Make sure you pay your invoices on time, but also chase any outstanding invoices owed to you.  In the UK there’s a 30 day standard payment time unless otherwise agreed.  After 30 days businesses are within their right to charge a late payment fee and interest as set out by the The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998.  Make sure you pay yours on time to avoid this fee.  Send reminders to your creditors a week and a few days before the invoice is due to encourage them to pay on time.

    Prioritise tasks

    Instead of always putting off your most time consuming or laborious tasks, start the day with one instead.  We are often most productive at the start of the day and you’ll get a motivational boost if you can complete something you’ve been dreading first thing.  Then you can crack on with the tasks you enjoy the most for the rest of the day.  Do the most important tasks first and then concentrate on the rest.  If you schedule in some time for admin tasks each day then this will stop them piling up and becoming overwhelming.

    Running your own business does take a lot of hard work and determination, but by staying organised, on top of admin tasks and utilising digital software, you really can make each day run smoothly.

     

    Related blog posts

    Why digital marketing skills are essential today 
    How small businesses can use the internet effectively
    7 tips for a successful small business
    Why your small business needs an online presence
    5 ways to manage your time effectively when working from home
    How to create your own website
    Lil Packaging goes eco-friendly with their ecommerce packaging range
    Things I've Learnt from Running My Own Shop Business (the things no one tells you)

     Tips to make your small business run smoothly

    Collaboration