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Business Planning: Episode 2 of The Complete Beginner’s Guide to eCommerce

Put your hand up if you love writing business plans.

Yeah, I thought so. 

There’s a good reason we will gladly pay others money to do the things that we hate doing, business strategy included.

But!

Don’t despair. Even if you would just love to get your hands dirty and start selling online, you should make a few decisions first:

  1. What’s your business model going to be?
  2. Got a cool business name?
  3. Give it all a purpose with a business plan.

See, you can’t just take your fantastic business idea (read how I came up with mine) and start selling. 

There’s work to be done – let’s get started.

What’s your eCommerce model? 🧐

A techy friend of mine asked me this exact question after I spent 10 minutes gushing about my brilliant corporate goodie box business idea.

At first, I was quite confused. 

‘What do you mean – like a business model?’ I asked and was met with a friendly eye-roll and a patient explanation.

It turns out, eCommerce businesses most commonly either have their own inventory or partner up with a dropshipping business

DropshippingKeeping your own inventory
✅ Easy to get started✅ Full control of the whole sales process
✅ Manage only marketing and customer service ✅ Customization options 
✅ Fewer risks ✅ Better profit margins
❌ No control over packaging or shipping❌ Time-consuming
❌ Smaller profit margins❌ Requires initial investment
❌ No guarantee for consistent quality❌ Additional costs from shipping 

While dropshipping has its pros, it wouldn’t really make sense for my goodie box business idea.

I decided to go at it myself.

That way, I could pack up the orders as they came in, and use those pretty mailing boxes I wanted to get made with the branding on it. 

Plus, there’s hardly any better promotion than an unboxing Instagram post from dozens of people around the world.

“But how will you do it?” I hear you ask. 

Won’t it cost a lot more to pay for the shipping boxes, the shipping itself, and potentially the storage of the many hundreds of products? 

Fair concerns, my friend. 

Thankfully, in the world of business, it turns out that buying in bulk directly from the manufacturer or their suppliers is actually quite affordable. 

That means I can get my hands on some decent boxes that I could then ship relatively cheaply with FedEx. 

And, as far as storage goes, I decided that for the duration of my online selling experiment, I was going to manage by dedicating a corner of my living room to it. 

Become the CEO: LLC vs sole proprietorship 💼

Naturally, deciding on your eCommerce model isn’t enough – you also need to create an actual company for your online store.

But you know what? You’re an entrepreneur now.

In fact, you’re the boss. 

Let that sink in and feel smug for a few moments.

What that really means, though, is that you need to decide on the type of company you want to create. 

In general, most countries let you choose between a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company (LLC). 

There might also be other in-between types that might be worth considering if you have an investor on board or are setting up your company with a partner. 

The main difference between an LLC and a sole proprietorship is usually related to the level of bookkeeping required and the setup costs. 

An LLC is its own legal entity. That means that any business loans are taken out by the LLC, rather than you personally. 

Also, if things go south and your business rakes up debt, you won’t be personally liable to pay those bills. 

Although that sounds great, with great perks comes great responsibility.

Or more specifically, more bookkeeping responsibilities and more frequent tax declarations

As a sole proprietor, on the other hand, you’ll be held liable for paying back any debt that your business might have, but you’ll have a much easier time with your books. 

Usually, the setup and registration costs are considerably smaller for a sole proprietor, too. 

Depending on where you are in the world, your safest bet is to contact your local trade office and see what options are available for you. 

Got a dashing name? ✨

OK – we’ve delved into the different eCommerce models and looked at the basics of choosing the type of business that you want to be the founder of. 

Time for something a bit more fun, but no less serious.  

Like all good businesses, I really wanted for my business idea to have a name that really puts my products on the map.

From my research, I found that a truly good business name should be: 

  • Relevant to your niche and business idea 
  • Short and easy to remember
  • Not trademarked
  • Good to use as your online store’s domain name 

Some people are great at coming up with creative names. Me? Not so much.

That’s not to say that I don’t love naming things. Pretty much all of my plants have names: say hello to Lenny B – the lemon tree.

But naming my new online business required teamwork. Together with my team, we made a shortlist:

  • StaffStuff
  • CrewCase
  • PerkPack

I thought all three would be good and catchy business names, because all of them were short, easy to remember, and available as domains. 

But it’s always a great idea to ask someone else not to be blinded by your own “creative genius.”

After a round of emails, Facebook messages, and WhatsApp texts to both friends and family alike, I had some valuable feedback on my goodie box names. 

Phone chat with Alex about business names

And I had to agree – CrewCase had just the kind of vibe that I wanted to go for. 

The master plan: what to include in a business plan 🗺️

I know, you’d much rather be actually setting up your online store, or drafting up your style guide. 

But I promise, we’re nearly there.

In fact, I found that creating a business plan for my new business was more fun than I anticipated. 

The best way to get started on your business plan is to simply write down your business idea, and explain in detail how you’re going to run the day-to-day of your company. 

So forget all about lofty mission statements and overly-optimistic profit and revenue calculations.

A realistic business plan has helped me see the bigger picture and made it so much easier for me to launch my business.

Plus, it’s a great document to reference if I ever need to convince a bank or an investor to get behind my fantastic business idea. 

Wondering how to write your own? Well, a good business plan covers: 

  • What your business is about
  • What you’re going to be selling
  • And how you will do just that 

My business plan also includes a revenue and a profit calculation – all top secret stuff I can’t share.

But I can tell you that if it kicks off, I’ll be on track to spin this into a fully-fledged business in approximately 1 year.

Wondering how to put your own business plan together?

There are plenty of free business plan templates available online – give it a quick google.

Next week: Wanted – suppliers 📦

It’s time to hit the ground running and round up some product suppliers next week.

I’ll go over how I got in touch with potential business partners, and how I got my hands on some product samples – score. 

What’s more exciting, I’m going to be picking our eCommerce platform, too.

Stay tuned.

Written by

Author avatar

Matleena

Matleena is a seasoned eCommerce writer, with a particular interest in emerging digital marketing trends, dropshipping, and growth hacking. She’s addicted to coming up with new eCommerce business ideas and making them a reality; she deserves her nickname of ‘print on demand business mogul.' In her free time, she enjoys cups of good coffee, tends to her balcony garden, and studies Japanese.

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