As many of you might know by now, I own a clothing store called Gold + Vera. To make a long story short I have definitely learned a lot of lessons while running this business and have made a lot of mistakes before I finally saw some success. I invested around $4,500 total in the business and didn’t make any money for about 9 months until October rolled around and I managed to sell out almost all of my inventory!
After I finally started seeing some success, I realized what exactly was needed to get to that point, which is what I’m sharing with you now. If you have an e-commerce business or have been wanting to start one, this blog post is for you!
Sell Items People Actually Want
Okay, so let’s start with the most obvious point which is to sell items people actually want. I completely respect the crap out of anyone that starts a business but not every idea is actually a good one and not every product is one that will sell. I learned this the hard way when I bought a bunch of random items expecting them to sell out quickly.
The best way to sell items people actually want is to do a fun thing called market research. If you’re a service provider you probably have already heard me talk about market research and how vital it is to the success of a business. For you amazing newbies that are just learning the basics, market research is essentially asking your target audience some questions to understand what they want and like.
For example, if you wanted to start a clothing company some questions you could ask are:
- How often do you shop for clothes?
- What is your usual shopping budget per month, quarter, year?
- What would you describe your style to be?
- How important is ethical sourcing + environmentally friendly clothing to you?
All of these questions will shape where you source your items, how much you sell them for, and what your core strengths will be as a business. You can perform market research on anyone that you feel is your ideal customer. You might know them personally or you can reach out to them on social media.
Create a Spending Budget
So let’s talk about the fact that I spent WAY too much money on Gold + Vera before I even started selling anything. Some of the costs I accrued in the first few months were:
- The LLC (waste of money since I decided to change the name anyways)
- Packaging (which I ended up recycling because I changed the business name)
- Clothing racks
- The domain name + website hosting
- Shopify membership
- Advertising (again, dumb because I didn’t know what I was doing)
All of this totaled out to around $5,000 and I only ended up making around $800 THIS YEAR. That’s partially due to the fact that I didn’t have a budget, I had no plan or sense of what I was doing, and I changed the name from BASICS to Gold + Vera.
It’s smart to lay out the costs of starting your business and gradually save for these items or take out a small loan if you feel comfortable doing that. When setting a budget you want to start small by buying only the basics. This includes inventory, thank you cards, packaging, a label maker, and your domain name for the website. Anything else is not necessary before you get any orders. Once you sell some inventory and are able to re-invest some of that money, then it’s wise to splurge a little to make your business run smoother.
Use Social Media
Here’s where I have a lot of resentment and regret towards the way I did social media. I work in social media marketing for a LIVING and I didn’t take advantage of anything. What ended up skyrocketing my account was a Tik Tok that went viral and is currently sitting at around 450,000 views. I ended up selling a few hundred dollars worth of inventory and it gave my brand the exposure that it really needed.
I recommend being active on all social media platforms even if it feels a little silly at first. My viral Tik Tok took me 15 minutes to make and was super simple.
Don’t Overdo It
The last thing I want to leave you with today is just don’t overdo it. Don’t spend a crap ton of money that you don’t have and don’t buy a lot of inventory until you start seeing some orders come in. I wish I had started a lot smaller and worked my way into it instead of splurging and wasting money that I didn’t necessarily need to waste.
If you’re looking to start an e-commerce business and don’t know where to start, this is something I offer 1:1 coaching for. Here is the link to apply and my program is 16 weeks long and we cover everything you need to know to start and run a successful e-commerce business.