From a reader in Alberta: “I have been considering a traditional business for myself, and have been on a search since I finished college in 1996. I’ve travelled, looking for ideas for a small business. Now I am looking for resources and ideas in e-commerce (like everyone else, I suppose), and feel that business on the Internet is the only way to go. Where can I start my search and get ideas for what I could market on the Internet?”
Sherri Burch-Lewis, ON
If there is one thing I have learned, it is that you have to do something you love. If you are searching for something to market, you better make is something you feel passionate about. Money is always good, but if you aren’t enjoying what you are spending the majority of your time on, then it will be a waste!
There’s a fairly new e-commerce business that may be of interest to you: Quixtar.com. It is a multi-level marketing business and you can become an independent business owner. If you want further information, e-mail me at email@example.com and I’ll send you more details.
Nancy Howden, PQ
From your e-mail and your travels, it sounds like you’re good at doing your homework — an excellent quality in someone who’s looking to start up her own business. Now the easy part… what are you good at? What are your strengths?
It is essential that you are a master at what you are about to put on the market, so what is it that you personally can offer? What do you absolutely love to do? Then find a way to make your living based on that thing.
I am a self-starter and received no grants to do it. I love to write and so, after two university degrees (French Linguistics + Translation and Print Journalism) and six years doing the corporate thing in telecommunications, I knew I had what it took to keep writing marketing slogans, letters, advertisements for TV, etc., as well as keep up the business side of it. I hung out my shingle and the reputation I had earned while at the telecom company worked its mojo and, two years later, I am a self-supporting freelance writer with a solid reputation for good business practices.
In short, pick what you love to do and find a way to make money doing it. You’ll be great! Good luck!
Hi. I definitely think that selling products on the Internet to individuals in their own home is not the way to go. I signed up under one direct-marketing company which I won’t mention the name but I am sure you have heard of them. The web site was awful, it took forever to put in an order. The shipping was too expensive and the products themselves were higher-priced than comparables in the store. I myself was thinking of opening a store on the Net, but am very glad I didn’t. Advice from business friends of mine was, ‘Why would you sell something you can get cheaper and quicker from the store?’
Whatever kind of sales you go into, it would be great to have a product that is truly one of a kind or its benefits are so great that people just have to have it!
Jason Carter, Carter Consulting, Calgary
Making money on line is a lot harder than people think and many people are very naive when it comes to the web. If you want a “traditional” online store where you sell products and services and attract customers online you have to keep in mind is how are you going to attract people to the site in the first place.
Remember that for whatever you sell there are MILLIONS of others doing the same thing. Pretend you have a store in a mall with one million locations and all of the 1 million stores ALL sell men’s suits — standing out is a real challenge. If you are trying to attract your customers from the internet you have to have a detailed marketing plan and have to address issues such as:
1. How will I build a site to rank well on the search engines.
2. How big is my market — how many people even search for my products on line.
3. What content to I need on the site to attract customers.
4. That e-transactions systems do I need to process credit cards systems.
5. What software will I use to make it all work.
6. Who are my SUCCESSFUL competitors and how do they market themselves?
Costs for a really well planned out and researched store will set you back $20 50K CDN depending on what you want. REMEMBER: Marketing is critical. Spend at least one full year researching how the internet really works and what is involved to make your site visible. It takes a lot more time and money than most people realise.
This may sound daunting but it is better to be prepared ahead of time than to be in 98% of online ventures that fail as a result of failing to attract customers (web traffic) or due to poor cash flow management.
Hope this helps.
If you are looking for other resources or help on starting an online business please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a question for your fellow entrepreneurs? Send it to Peer-to-Peer.
Watch for another Peer-to-Peer Poll in the next PROFIT-Xtra.