If you’re new to the world of online business and in particular, online shops, you might be wondering how much does it cost to start an ecommerce store?
Hello from the land of earthquake-ville. Land that seems to be quite unstable lately. First off, thanks for the social media loves, DMs, and emails checking on us here in Puerto Rico. All is good where we live. We have power, water, and our home's foundation is standing firm.
Nothing like a good rumble from mother nature to help start preparing for the next adventure. Jared and Makayla are prepping like the zombie apocalypse is around the corner.
AND how grateful I am for those entrepreneurs who decided to sell us products to help us prepare for whatever is in our path!
This gratitude leads me to encourage you to get your shop up and running so you can serve others too!!!
The World Needs YOU to Sell Them Something to Improve Their Lives
Now, I understand it may not be a product to save lives during an earthquake.
What if it's a product that saves a mom’s sanity because she forgot to buy a present for her kids' friend's birthday party that starts in 2 minutes!?! YOU could have been the one that she’s praising now because you sold her a birthday product to stock up on for just this situation.
It may be some clothes that you just put up in your store that make a new mom feel refreshed because she hasn’t been able to sleep in a week because her baby has been sick. YOU had just the thing that made her feel alive, and you’ve now become the rock star in her life.
Setting up a shop is all about serving, and when you do that, YOU GET REWARDED in the form of money. Pretty cool how that works, right?
Now is the moment a thought may creep into that little brain of yours…thinking it’s HARD and EXPENSIVE.
AND IT JUST MAY leave your brain shaking….don’t make me send Jared and Makayla in on your thoughts adorned in zombie gear;).
You’ve probably heard that it’s super easy and cheap to start an online shop, but how much does it really cost to start an e-commerce store?
Before we get into that, let me back up and tell you why we are even talking about this today. Recently, I got a message from one of my students about her not-so-great experience of setting up and running her first booth at a local event.
When she sent me this message I think her jaw probably hit the floor when she read my response. As I read the message I thought back to all my experiences getting started and the challenges I had to overcome. Although it wasn’t my frame of mind at the time, I’m so dang happy I experienced those obstacles. My reply “This is awesome!” was met with the sound of crickets from her side.
I went on to tell her that things like this are what help us move faster in our businesses. As you learn what works and what doesn’t you can pivot and adjust but if you never experience those things you can never adjust.
That’s why starting an online business and starting small can be such an amazing learning experience. Imagine if you had to go to college to learn what she learned in that one day. She could probably make a long list of business principles that she got first-hand knowledge on in just one day without all the debt that comes with getting a business degree from college.
So, that leads me back to my question – is it actually easy, and how much does it really cost to start an ecommerce store?
First things first – is it easy to start an online store?
Honestly, I try never to use the word “easy” in business-building and if I do, let me know. Building something that you are proud of takes time and effort, especially in the beginning.
Starting an online business follows the easy-hard rule.
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “What the heck is that, Alison?”
I like to break it down like this:
If it is easy now, it's going to be hard in the future. And if it's hard now, it's going to be easy in the future.
So, although you might be pulling your hair out now trying to figure out your online store, it will get easier – trust me.
Now that you know it might not be “easy” right out of the gate let’s discuss the cost of starting an ecommerce store.
There seem to be two different perceptions of what it takes to really get your first online store launched. One camp thinks it’s going to be basically free and the other camp thinks they’re going to have to sell their home to cover the costs.
Spoiler alert: You aren’t going to have to sell your house, but it’s also not free to get started.
So what are those costs?
First, let’s define the scope. If you're going to launch a competitor to Amazon, the world’s largest eCommerce marketplace, it's going to cost you a lot, right? But if you’re a stay-at-home mom that just wants to get her online store launched, then you can get started with not much more than dryer change.
#1 You need your business license
This isn’t just an online business expense, this is an everybody-in-business expense. So, please don’t skip this one. Do some research and determine what’s best for you. We have always done LLC’s but you’ll need to determine which is going to work best for you.
#2 You need something to sell!
Look at things you already have lying around the house. Remember my story of how I turned some blocks of wood into $9,000? Yea, that really happened. Now, you don’t want to be selling blocks of wood forever, but it will allow you to make some money to fund your next step.
#3 Invest your money into a SMALL amount of inventory
You need to do some testing on what products will work and what products won’t work. Because of this, you need to start small. Don’t buy a ton of inventory in the beginning.
#4 You need a place to sell!
It’s time to get your online “booth” set up so that you can collect money 24/7, not just on weekends at your local event. I personally use Shopify, and this is the ecommerce platform that I recommend. You don’t need a custom site or anything like that – trust me.
#5 Ship some stuff out
So, you’ve got your online store set up, now it’s time to pack some stuff up and ship it out. That packaging isn’t free though, you’ll need to purchase it. You can order these on Amazon with 2-day shipping for as little as $10-20.
#6 Getting custom-branded packaging
You probably want nice and pretty branded packaging, and this can get expensive if you tried to go all-out in the beginning. When I first started, I was hand-stamping tags. Yeah, for each sale I made. Now, there are amazing options like VistaPrint that will make your life easy. Wait until they are running a special on business cards, and you can get custom cards printed for your business that has all your information on the front and a coupon code on the back to incentivize your customer to come back and purchase again. Note: If you are doing this on a site like Amazon, make sure you follow their rules because they frown upon doing this.
#7 Labels, labels, and more labels
Without a shipping label, your amazing product will never make its way to that new customer. In the beginning, you could do this at a very low cost by handwriting your address labels, or you could opt for a more expensive option, which is the traditional home printer. Once you get some volume though, you’ll want to upgrade to a thermal printer.
Those are the main expenses you’ll incur getting your store launched and selling products.
If you’re reading this and dreading the thought of shipping the products on your own, then you should check out episode 9 “Is shipping stopping you?” where I go into detail on how you can get someone to do all this for you.
So to summarize, you can go into debt, spend thousands of dollars in inventory, have a custom-built ecommerce website, and hire a team to handle all your customer service and all your shipping and all that stuff but you don’t have to.
If you are short on cash, you still get started, you’ll just have to spend more of your own time, but there isn’t anything preventing you from getting started. You either have time or money.
If you want to know how you can grow your own profitable online store, just like my girls did, then head over to 0-100k.com
If you want to hear all the details for this episode, click the play button at the top and dive right in!