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How To Start An Online Business

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So you want to start your own online business but you have no computer knowledge, especially coding in html or php. Maybe, you have no idea where to find distributors to purchase products from and you have very little cash to get your venture off the ground.

So why bother?

With today’s technology and the abundance of online resources, you can get your online business up and running in no time and with a minimal amount of investment. Stay with me and I’ll show you some the basics to get you up and running in no time.

There are a few items you will need to spend some time on before delving into the world of online e-commerce. Don’t worry, they are not chores where you have to complete a 5 year business plan or spend countless hours trying to project cash flow analysis.

There are a few simple, but important steps to consider. 

What Do You Want To Sell?


If you say, “Whatever makes me the most money!” Stop reading and go back to your old job. You need to dig deeper.

Typically, you want to find a need, then fill it. Sounds easy, but it’s not. If it was, everyone would be a millionaire by building a website and watching the money roll in.

Look around you and see what people are buying.

At the convenience store, what types of products are on the counter and selling well. What are your kids asking for or using on their smartphones. What do you wish you could find online and buy?

The items don’t have to be expensive or flashy. They just need to fill a need that a group of people have.

Find a Distributor

You need to find a distributor that has the types of products you want to sell. There are some online directories like WholesaleCentral.com that has an extensive list of distributors for you to look through.

Contact the manufacturer of the products you want to sell. This is perhaps one of the best ways to find distributors. Typically, a manufacturer will have a list of their distributors which you can use to contact.

Run a Google search for the products you want to sell. For example, wholesale distributor of [product name]. Then change the search to reseller, supplier and so on. Many wholesalers don’t do a great job of (Search Engine Optimization) SEO on their website, so you may need to dig through several pages of search results to find what you need.

Attend a trade show. If you know what you want to sell and there is a local trade show coming up, it could be a good way to meet the manufacturer and research your products further.

The main focus with your distributor is to see what terms they have. Do you have to purchase minimum order amounts? If they have a $500 minimum order amount and you expect to have an average order size of perhaps $10, you don’t want to have to buy $500 worth of inventory just to have it sit in the warehouse, or your garage, for weeks on end.

Do they dropship? Drop shipping is a great way to sell online without having to carry inventory. There are usually restrictions on these programs, so check with your distributor about the terms.

Build a Website

This one scares most people because they usually have little or no computer knowledge. No worries, you can build an e-commerce website these days very easily and do it without coding skills. There are several online services that allow you build a complete online store. Services like:

  1. Big Commerce
  2. Shopify
  3. Magento
  4. WooCommerce

You can compare some of the top e-commerce platforms here.

Still nervous about doing it yourself, again no worries! You can look for a developer online or use services like Upwork that allow you to post a job for an e-commerce developer and people from around the world can bid for the right to build your website. It’s a great way to find good and often cheap labor.

Most of the top website e-commerce platforms will include all the tools you will need to get your store up and running. The one major issue you will need to address is shipping. Shipping will probably be your biggest headache. If your products are relatively the same size and weight, then it’s much easier. End up with products of various sizes and weights and it can be become a logistical nightmare.

Decide on who you are going to use as a shipping vendor. FedEx, UPS or the Postal Service. Do your homework here. Time spent determining the best way to ship items will serve you well when you build the website out.

You’ll need a merchant account to accept payments online in your store. If you don’t want to do that you could use PayPal. It will direct people away from your website to Paypal to make their purchase and send them back once they’ve completed it. Which is better is perhaps beyond the scope of this article, but again do your homework. The simplest way is to use PayPal.

Promote Your Business

“If you build it, they will come,” is not what is going to happen to your brand new online business. You need to promote and promote it and promote it.

How you do this is another article in and of itself. Your web developers can help with seo of each product you have on the website. But you will need an additional strategy to promote your products to the audience that needs them.

Social Media

Use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media outlets to get your products out there. You can use their online tools, including paid services like Facebook Ads or Boosting Posts, to really drill down and get your ads in front the people you want to target.

Email Marketing

Many e-commerce platforms allow you to integrate email programs into them, so you can continue to sell to the people who have bought from you. Holiday, special events, like Black Friday, birthdays and upselling can all be done via email. Get the right tool and you can do this all automatically.

Google Adwords

If you have a budget for marketing, Google Adwords could be a great way at attract people searching for your product. Should you do your PPC management yourself? If you well versed in Adwords, then yes. Otherwise, pay someone to do it for you. You’ll save more money in the short and long term and get a better return on your investment than doing it yourself.

Go For It

If it’s your dream of being independent and having your own business, owning your own online business could be for you.

Do your homework, get a little money together and you could get started while still working at your current job. If things go well, you can take the leap and expand!!!


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