How to Start Your First Business With Shopify
Embrace your inner entrepreneurial spirit and launch your first eCommerce business on Shopify with these tips and tricks
Table of contents
- I. Importance of starting an online business
- II. Research and planning
- III. Setting up your Shopify store
- IV. Conclusion
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In this article, we discuss the importance of starting an online business, the steps to research and plan your business, and how to set up and launch your eCommerce store using Shopify.
Learn about identifying your niche, analyzing market demand and competition, creating a business plan, and setting realistic goals. Finally, explore the process of setting up your Shopify store, choosing a theme, configuring store settings, and integrating payment options.
I. Importance of starting an online business
Starting an online business is important for first-time entrepreneurs because it offers lower startup costs, greater flexibility, access to a global market, and the ability to scale quickly. It also allows you to experiment with different business ideas, adapt to market changes, and work from anywhere with an internet connection.
While you can also have an offline extension of your business such as a physical store or providing in-person services, you should start your business by setting up an eCommerce website on a platform such as Shopify and setting up online sales channels.
II. Research and planning
The first step to starting any business is to spend time researching your market and theorizing a business plan that accounts for all the logistical details of your business.
This is important so that you carefully consider how to create a successful and profitable business.
Without proper planning and research, you run the risk of starting a business that digs its own grave from the start (even if you have an amazing product or service).
Additionally, having a solid plan ensures that you're not making stuff up as you go. Having a foundational roadmap for your business establishes you as a serious and professional business owner. This is what differentiates your idea from being either a successful business or a small side hustle.
a) Identifying your niche
One of the most important components of researching and planning for a business is to identify and choose the market that you're going to sell to!
Instead of trying to appeal to everyone in the world, you should dial in on a specific audience.
This not only makes it easier on you when it comes to planning your marketing and sales strategies, but it also helps to build your credibility and recognizability for your audience.
Sometimes this step requires identifying subniches (such as when your niche is too broad or saturated).
Let's say that you want to start an event planning business and you want to specifically provide wedding planning services, for example. Consider your background and the wedding planning industry to choose a niche.
For instance, if you want to incorporate your cultural background into your business model, then your chosen niche could be other people from your cultural background.
Or maybe you grew up by the beach and love the beach life. In that case, your niche could be an audience who wants to have a beachside wedding.
b) Analyzing market demand and competition
The next step in research and planning is to research your chosen niche and market.
Dive into asking the questions of pain points for your audience, whether your solution has a demand, and analyze competitors who are already selling the same or a similar solution to your idea.
In addition, learn from your competition by analyzing their strengths and weaknesses so you don't have to reinvent the wheel, and you also know what to avoid.
This step is considered very important when it comes to validating your business idea.
At the end of the day, your idea could be a million-dollar idea in your head or your close friends' heads, but it may not be of interest to the general audience of your chosen niche and market.
c) Creating a business plan
This next step is a bit debatable. Depending on your business, your goals, and who you are as a person, creating a detailed business plan in the beginning may not be of much value.
For example, if you're creating a software as a service (SaaS) business as a technical nerd and you're not trying to raise funds through loans, then you might want to focus instead on creating a minimum viable product (MVP) that you can sell and tweak as you get feedback from the market and your audience.
If you go this route, you can still create a business plan, but maybe not have it be as detailed.
However, if you're creating a clothing business as a person with a retail background and you want to focus on raising capital as fast as possible, then it'd be smart to create a detailed business plan that you can present to potential lenders and investors.
There are 9 important components of a detailed business plan:
Keep in mind that your business plan is never a set-in-stone document, and should constantly evolve and change as the years go by.
Your initial business plan's main purpose is to validate your business idea, have a roadmap for yourself and your team, and appeal to lenders and investors.
d) Setting realistic goals and expectations
Finally, make sure that you're not overestimating yourself and your business idea.
Know your strengths and weaknesses and don't assume anything.
It's better, to be honest with yourself and others about what you think you'll be able to achieve, rather than lying to yourself just so that you can rush through the process of building a business.
This is not to say that you shouldn't dream big, but it means to dream big while also considering the nightmares.
III. Setting up your Shopify store
Now that you've logistically planned out your business and raised enough starting capital, you're ready to start operations and selling your product or service!
As I said earlier, when creating an eCommerce website, it's best to choose a platform such as Shopify.
With Shopify, you don't have to waste any time coding the website because the entire website is built for you, and all you have to do is choose which theme and apps you want to install for your website.
Additionally, Shopify allows you to sell on many different online marketplaces and social media channels while integrating with your main website's sales channel. This allows you to keep track of inventory, and analyze sales across different channels all from Shopify's dashboard.
Finally, Shopify is highly secure, so you don't have to worry about hackers and fraud hurting your business.
If you want to read more about why Shopify is the best platform to set up your eCommerce website and store, then make sure to read my article 5 Essential Reasons to Pick Shopify for Your Business.
a) Signing up for a Shopify account
Signing up for a Shopify account is super easy.
Click this link to start your free trial: https://shopify.pxf.io/c/4786087/1101159/13624.
Shopify's trial period includes your first 3 days completely free, followed by 3 months of Shopify for only $1!
b) Choosing a store name and domain
When choosing a name and domain for your online store, you should just go with whatever name you've chosen for your business.
Although, if the domain name for your business name is taken, then you have a couple of options:
Try checking if very similar domain names are available
Revise your business name to a domain name that is both available and suits your business
When you sign up for a store with Shopify, your account includes a standard Shopify domain in the format of your-store-name.myshopify.com.
Although, you may choose to map a custom domain to your store. You'll first have to of course register the domain and then update your DNS setting to route the domain's URL to your Shopify store.
c) Selecting a theme and customizing your store's design
This is perhaps one of the most fun and interesting parts of setting up your Shopify store!
Head over to shopify.pxf.io/nLWVYR to start browsing all of the themes available to install on Shopify's theme marketplace. There are plenty of free and paid themes to choose from.
By default, Shopify will automatically install their standard theme called Dawn onto your store upon store creation.
Dawn is a wonderful theme out of the box, and there are lots of options for you to customize your store with Dawn to make your website feel true to your business.
If you want to learn more about Dawn, I wrote an entire article about the amazing benefits and features of Dawn: Meet Dawn: The Complimentary Default Theme in Shopify 2.0
d) Configuring store settings and payment options
Lastly, it's time to configure your store to be able to start selling and accepting payments from customers!
All of this can easily be done straight from your store's dashboard.
You have the option of integrating social media sales channels, various online marketplaces, and even Shopify POS!
This means that if you decide to open a physical location or even occasionally decide to sell your products at pop-up events, you can do so while integrating the sales data with Shopify POS.
The best part is that when you sign up for the Basic, Shopify, or Advanced plan, you automatically get Shopify POS Lite for free with your plan.
Those are the steps and tips to starting your first business with Shopify!
I hope that this article not only educated you but also inspired and motivated you to finalize that courageous choice to start your first business.
I know that it can all seem overwhelming and scary, but the benefits far outweigh the risks assuming you follow all of the tips for starting a successful business.
If you're thinking about setting up your eCommerce site with Shopify, then please feel free to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me.
As a Shopify Developer Partner, I provide web development services to improve your store's functionality and give your Shopify store a look and feel that's unique to your business. While coding is not required to start and run a Shopify business, there may be times when you want to implement a certain design or functionality that is not offered by Shopify or any third party. That's where I can come in and code the specific feature that you want added to your store.
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This article is part of a series called Cache In Cash Out, a series where I help educate and inform established businesses, aspiring entrepreneurs, and independent developers about Shopify.
Shopify powers millions of businesses and is trusted by brands such as Unilever, Kylie Cosmetics, Allbirds, and many more.
As someone who values freedom through entrepreneurship, I love how Shopify's Mission is to reduce the barriers to becoming a business owner by providing a platform that makes it easier to launch and grow a business.
No matter where you are on your journey, Shopify fosters a culture that empowers individuals who are seeking independence in the form of starting their own business.
New articles in this series are posted every Sunday!