I receive many questions about how to open an online store every single day. But lately, I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend. It seems that several of you are looking for the easiest and cheapest solution possible and making detrimental business decisions along the way.
You are searching for a single magic bullet that will solve all of your problems, a bullet that doesn’t exist. Now I can understand being risk averse and not wanting to invest a large sum of money into a business before you know it will make money, but at some point you need to realize that it takes some amount of monetary risk to succeed.
For example, the other day I received an email from a young man who just graduated from college wanting to learn how to find products to sell online. And he prefaced his question with the following statement.
Steve, I need advice on how to find products to sell. I know that you highly recommend Worldwide Brands, but I don’t want to spend that kind of money right now. Can you recommend an alternate way of finding vendors?
Now I completely understand not wanting to invest the $300 that signing up for Worldwide Brands entails, but when I suggested some alternative methods such as attending wholesale tradeshows, contacting distributors directly etc…, he still seemed hesitant. And after a few back and forth emails, I discovered that he
- Did not want to pay for Worldwide Brands or for any service that could save him time.
- Did not want to travel anywhere to attend wholesale trade shows because it would be too expensive
- Did not want to contact individual vendors from B2B sourcing websites like globalsources.net because it was too time consuming
Well geez….once you exclude all of those methods, there aren’t a whole lot of options left. In the end, I found out that he wanted to know if there was an Amazon.com like superstore of wholesale goods, a place where all he had to do was buy a few products, turn around to sell them online and make a quick buck.
He had no interest in establishing relationships with vendors and wanted to know an easy and free way to find products to sell. Finally, I wished him good luck and gave him a quick warning about product sourcing scams on the internet.
Is Frugality Affecting Your Business Viability?
Shortly after that email, I received another message from a nice young lady who recently got the courage to start her own online store.
While I was extremely happy for her, she then went on to ask why I bothered to sign up for my own domain and pay for a webhost when there were free hosted shopping cart solutions available.
Specifically, she asked why I recommended hosted shopping cart solutions like Big Commerce and Shopify when there were other hosted solutions available with absolutely no monthly or transaction fees whatsoever.
At first I was shocked! I have never seen a free hosted shopping cart solution before so I went to check out one of these free sites. Turns out that there’s a catch (isn’t there always?).
If you open a store with one of these free hosted shopping cart sites, you are forced to use their domain name. In other words, if I wanted to start my own store, it would have to be named steve.freeshoppingcart.com or something along those lines.
Sure the service might be free for now (for up to several hundred products), but you would never ever own your domain. And I’m 100% positive that it would be a major pain in the butt to migrate your store to another platform if the need were to ever arise.
Invest Some Money And Do It Right
The hardest part about becoming an entrepreneur is understanding when to be frugal and when to spend your hard earned cash.
In the case of this young lady, she’s going to be in a world of hurt if her store ever takes off and she wants to switch to a real shopping cart platform.
Because she doesn’t own her store’s domain, she doesn’t really own her store. Essentially, she’s just building page rank and backlinks for her webhost and not for her business.
Running an online store on one of these free platforms is like running an Ebay store. You don’t have any control, you have to follow their rules and they can jack up their rates at any time because they essentially own you.
On the other hand, opening a hosting account at a place like Blue Host costs only $6.95 a month.
Is it worth saving $6.95 a month in exchange for the future viability of your business? If you don’t want to deal with hosting your own site, is it worth $25 to sign up for Big Commerce or Shopify and establish a solid foundation for your online store?
Your Time Is Valuable
The other difficult lesson to learn about entrepreneurship is realizing that your time is valuable even though you might not be directly generating cash at the moment.
In the case of the young college grad I spoke with, signing up for a service like Worldwide Brands would have saved him a ton of time during his search for vendors.
$300 sounds like a lot of money in the beginning, but when you factor in the potential wasted hours sifting through middlemen and fake vendors, it no longer seems like a significant sum in the end.
While I have not followed up with this college grad, I suspect that he’s having a hard time finding legitimate vendors online. The main reason?
Legit distributors and vendors don’t really advertise themselves on the web. Real distributors don’t want to deal with having to filter out the riff raff, which include those who are inexperienced or not serious about opening a store.
What you will find online however, are lots and lots of middlemen, scammers that are trying to rip you off by selling you goods at much higher prices.
If you’re not careful, you can easily waste hours of your time filtering out, contacting and buying from these fake vendors without even realizing that you are getting taken for a ride.
Taking The Opposite Approach
Instead of looking for shortcuts or finding ways to cut corners with your business, you should focus on going the extra mile. I’ve run this blog long enough to realize that most people aren’t willing to travel overseas to source their product.
Most people aren’t willing to produce compelling content for their online business in order to attract visitors to their website. Most people aren’t willing to go beyond what is easy or cheap to implement.
But guess what? If it’s easy for you, then it’s easy for everyone else. In order for your business to stand out among the crowd, you have to be willing to do what other people are reluctant to do.
If most people find it hard to import goods in from other countries, then you can get a leg up on the competition by sourcing goods from overseas.
If most people don’t have the know how to create a great website, then you should learn or hire someone who can. If most people are too lazy to put out great compelling content, then start writing!
Every little thing that you do that is difficult or a pain to implement will help differentiate your business from the crowd and provide a barrier to entry.
So the next time you decide to cut some corners or save money, consider whether that corner could potentially help make your business shine.
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- Find A Webhost And Domain Name – Create A Profitable Online Store Part 1
- Get A Great Design For Your Store – Create A Profitable Online Store Part 5