The number one mistake I did is NOT to bootstrap.
At that time, I thought that if I want to start an ecommerce shop, I have to think big and ready to splash tens of thousands of dollar. While this might be true to some, this definitely a WRONG decision for me.
You see, I denied the fact that starting an ecommerce shop doesn’t only require passion – it requires knowledge.
I read ebooks and other sources about starting an ecommerce shop – dropshipping, selling at eBay, etc. All they talk about is on incorporating a secure shopping cart, a privacy protection, and doing advertising (through Google AdWord and other methods).
While they are useful, not a single information I read is about how to start small and smart, unfortunately.
I learned the hard way – I learned that bootstrapping is key in starting a successful ecommerce shop.
All facets of ecommerce – ecommerce hosting, back-office management, website management, and marketing need to be bootstrapped.
How to start small but successful ecommerce shop
Unless you have all the funding to hire a team of techie and marketer, while securing a prominent funding source, I highly recommend you to start on your own by bootstrapping your startup phase.
Remember, you don’t want revenue – you want profit. You can make bigger profit from lower revenue if you start yourself small and ‘light’.
Here’s a tip or two on bootstrapping your ecommerce startup from my own experience:
- Host your ecommerce shop yourself – forget free hosting services
Choose a domain name and host your sites on well-supported ecommerce hosting. Remember, you are building a business that includes a brand name. Free hosting services with free domain names won’t bring your business further.
- Use an open source ecommerce solution
ZenCart, OSCommerce, and Joomla! VirtueMart are some of the most well-known open source ecommerce solution. The benefit if using them – free, and continuously developed. Moreover, you don’t have to rely to a web developer to build your site.
- Don’t hire a designer to do custom design
Choose free design, instead, or if you want better looking site, consider joining a theme club that offer non-unique, but beautiful and functional design.
- Hire a freelancer to put your site together
If you can’t DIY site setup, consider hiring a freelancer to put together your design, open source solution, installation, etc.
- Do guerrilla marketing
Don’t hire an online marketing firm to promote your ecommerce shop. Instead, go to forums and DIY your marketing. Better yet, hire forum members to do the marketing for you, in exchange for a considerably smaller amount of money, compared to if you hire a professional service provider.
- Having a ‘Hacker-Safe’ or SSL encryption is nice, but do it later
SSL and ‘Hacker-Safe’ services do protect you from data stealers, as well as hackers. But with hundreds to thousands of dollar needed just to secure the site, it wouldn’t make sense to do if your revenue is less than six digit numbers annually.
Take advantage of those free advices :) Learn from my mistake, and you should start your ecommerce shop better.
Image by danielbroche.