This post is recap on some of the highlights from a how-to created by Andrew Youderian, of ecommercefuel.com. I feature some of the most impressive startup strategies we encounter at StartupPlays and share them free, here at business2community.com. Enjoy.

Andrew left the investment banking world to become an eCommerce entrepreneur.  Since making the move he has grown his portfolio of eCommerce businesses to over $1 million in annual sales.  He emphasizes efficiency and bootstrapping over large organizations and outside funding, and specializes in scaling large businesses with small teams. His methodical approach to bootstrapping an online e-commerce store is worldclass.

Pre-Game: Legal & Financial Issues

Becoming a legitimate business entity is the first step in running any business. First decide if you’ll be a sole proprietorship, LLC, C corp or S corp.  Chat with an attorney, contact your state’s Dept. of Commerce or use a service like LegalZoom.com or  docracy.com  to get everything setup properly.  Request an EIN number from the IRS, when you reach out to wholesalers they will require this number.

Andrew stresses talking to your bank and opening up a business bank account as well as a small business credit card. It’s important to separate your personal finances from that of the business.

Picking a Great Niche

Before we start brainstorming ideas, it’s important to know what we’re looking for – a niche with the potential to sell well online. There are a lot resources out there than can help you find a niche, or you may already have one in mind. Use the  Google Keyword Tool to determine demand for a specific type of product.

If a niche seems to even remotely fit some of the criteria, jot it down.  For inspiration, check out the following:

  • Flippa & other business broker sites
  • Listen for complaints from friends and family about what they have a hard time finding
  • The World Wide Brands wholesaler directory.  If you don’t have a supplier lined up, being a member will come in handy later.  And the directory is also a GREAT way to brainstorm niche ideas that already have existing drop shipping suppliers.  Membership is $299, but is a good investment if you’re committed for the long haul.

Launching Your Website

Start with an easy to build store form Shopify or Woocommerce.

There is no coding required, and you can have a framework for your store setup in a few hours.

Set up a wholesale and / or drop shipping account with your suppliers. This should be relatively straight forward, and should require just a few pages of paperwork.  Get these applications in quickly as sometimes approval can take a week or two. This step requires a lot of business development and convincing. Use the site as leverage to show you have something tangible that can start producing results. Once your suppliers are on board and an agreement is in place use stock photos of your products as placeholders for the products you’ll be selling.

Improving Your Website

The first few months are not about making a lot of money, they are about learning from your customers and building an audience. You’ll be looking to do a few very important things during this time.

1. Identifying the biggest questions and problems your customers have will be key to creating a valuable website.

2. Identify your most profitable customers.

  • Who purchases your most profitable items?
  • Which customers require the most customer service?
  • What type of customer makes up the largest portion of your customer base?
3. Determine market focus
4. Define your unique selling points
Once you’ve worked these out you can slowly improve your website to reflect the evolution of your store, continue marketing efforts and expand your existing business.