Table of Contents
Why people are starting online businesses
The most popular course at Stanford isn’t a STEM class.
It isn’t in entrepreneurship, how to start a business, nor coding.
It is one in how to design a happy life.
The course is co-taught by Dave Evans, the former lead designer of Apple’s first mouse and co-founder of Electronic Arts.
In those positions, he learned how to design for user experience and remove unnecessary elements.
Apple’s first mouse, if you remember, had one button rather than the conventional two of the time.
The same elements that go into designing for user experience, it turns out, work well for designing your happiest life.
In fact, they work well for designing success in general.
Selling yourself short isn’t an option. It’s go big or go home, and it starts right here.
The key is knowing your options and yourself.
“I have true agency over my work, because I know what I stand for and I have tools to fix the things that I encounter in my life,” Kanyi Maqubela told Fast Company about the course he took as a Student at Stanford.
Today, Maqubela is an investment partner at an early-stage venture capital firm.
For those looking to start a new ecommerce business venture, those dreaming of turning a side-gig into a full-time job and long-term, sustainable business, the key to your success is the same.
You must know your options. And you must know yourself.
It is hard to be successful as an online store. Competition is fierce and customer expectation even more so.
The best offense to these industry realities is a planned defense – and knowing what you are getting yourself into before you ever begin.
Who is this guide for?
- Are you are an entrepreneur who plans on starting a brand new ecommerce business?
- Are you looking to expand your business to an independent webstore from an online marketplace (such as Amazon or eBay) or a brick-and-mortar?
- Are you planning to take your B2B business directly to consumers with a B2C site? (If you’re still on the fence, we’ve debunked B2B selling myths and provided a marketing guide here.)
This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to be successful for the long-term.
You’ll find in it countless of success stories from entrepreneurs selling across the web, whose sage advice you’d be wise to take.
You’ll also get step-by-step instructions for how to start an online business:
- Determine your product niche.
- Size up your competition.
- Nail down your target market.
- Determine market viability for today, tomorrow and next year.
Your business can become your personal legacy, providing jobs for hundreds and changing hearts and minds, one checkout at a time.
BigCommerce powers tens of thousands of online stores making billions in online revenue.
Most of these stores didn’t exist a decade ago, many still not even five years ago.
It is possible to build a legacy brand beginning right now.
It won’t be easy. It comes with costs. It will take know-how and strategy. It will take dedicated design from day one.
But do it right, and your business will bypass those one-hit-wonder brands to become something much more than a dream, a side gig or a even a small business.
It will become your personal legacy, providing jobs for hundreds and changing hearts and minds, one checkout at a time.
Buckle up. You’re about to go on a deep planning dive to prepare your business for long-term success.
Selling yourself short isn’t an option.
It’s go big or go home, and it starts right here, by learning how to start an online ecommerce business — no more procrastinating.
Show Up Every Day. Start Right Now.
Be patient, use the tools provided and never give up.
Each day I contribute something to make my business better. Literally, everyday.
- New products
- SEO metatags
- Better pictures
Your business will grow. It has too! BigCommerce offers all the most innovative solutions in a simple way to grow and grow and grow!
– Daniella Park, Designer, Webmaster, SEO expert, Jewelry Maker, One woman show, Doing It Sober.
9 Steps to Start an Online Business
The following guide breaks down the process of starting a small online business into manageable chunks.
We will discuss all of the following points throughout every chapter in this guide; at its conclusion, you’ll know how to start and run your own ecommerce store.
Here is an overview of the 9 steps for building and growing your successful online business:
1. Find a niche.
Before you start selling, you need to find the right product with the potential for serious profitability. You’ll learn how to research different niches and even examine your own life to find problems that can be solved.
2. Evaluate market viability.
Now that you have a business idea, it’s time to dig deeper into product viability. Think about the kind of details that can make or break your business, like number of SKUs and shipping weight.
3. Conduct market research.
Validate your product using tactics such as keyword research and evaluating trending products.
4. Conduct competitive analysis.
find out what’s working — and what can be improved upon — from your biggest competitors. This will tell you more about how to define your branding and positioning in the market.
5. Learn online business laws.
Shipping restrictions, zoning laws, and trademark considerations. These can all make or break your business. With this list, you can avoid the ecommerce landmines that derail your business before it gets off the ground.
6. Analyze your target market.
This is where you dig even deeper to understand your ideal shopper. Who are they? What do they like? How can you tailor both your product and your website experience to appeal to your perfect shopper?
7. Source your product.
You know you have the right product, who your customer is, and how to set up your business. It’s time to get the physical product. We’ll walk you through different ways to source your product and how to avoid common pitfalls.
8. Build your store.
None of the above matters if you don’t have an ecommerce store that sells your product, provides an intuitive shopping experience, and makes customers want to return. We’ll show you how to go from zero to beautiful online store in a matter of minutes using powerful ecommerce software (spoiler alert – we have a recommendation).
9. Become productive.
The difference between operational and successful is in mastering man’s greatest nemesis — time. Get firsthand accounts from successful entrepreneurs who have grown their home based business into online behemoths.
Let’s get started.
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