Whether you have P10,000 or P100,000 capital, my number one recommendation of what type of business to start remains the same – having your own online business. More so now since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Here are my top 5 reasons why I like having an online business:
1. Low Capital Required (Mababang Puhunan)
When starting an e-commerce store, you don’t need a lot of capital. Your primary expenses are: website domain name, website hosting from Shopify or other platforms, and your initial inventory. (I will post a separate entry on how much to expect spending for your own e-commerce website)
If you are really on a tight budget, you can even sell on free platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Carousell, etc. I remember for my first time selling online, I just emptied out a shelf in our house and put my inventory there.
In uncertain times like this, having an online store reduces the risk for the aspiring entrepreneur. In my younger years, I used to think that having a shop in the mall would be “tubong lugaw”, but the pandemic has proven that nothing is a sure deal. With the exception of supermarkets and drugstores, brick-and-mortar businesses like restaurants, boutiques, hotels, and schools, have been hit hard, with some even being forced to close.
2. Earn while you sleep (24/7 open hours)
Unlike traditional retail spaces at malls, online stores are accessible 24 hours, 7 days a week. As long as your website is up, people can browse through your catalogue. It’s a great feeling to wake up and check your e-mail or store app and be notified with receiving orders while you were sleeping. One of my friends even set up their store app to have a cash register “ka-ching!” sound whenever their online store makes a sale.
3. Free (or at least Cheap!) Advertising
When I was growing up, the traditional methods of advertising were – print, radio and TV. You would need to be a well-funded or “big” business to be able to introduce your brand and products to your market.
Now, small business owners have a more even playing field. In our business, we rely primarily on word-of-mouth, and social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Authentic influencers have also been tremendously helpful in promoting our products and attesting to its quality.
Search Engine Optimization: Google also rewards your company with higher rankings if have a lot of high-quality backlinks (top-rated websites linking to your own website), or you can pay small fees to get on top of search results.
4. Adapt Quickly
This is perhaps the most profitable (and least noticed) advantage of having an e-commerce store. Having an online store allows you to adapt quickly to current customer’s preferences and market conditions.
I have to admit, as a stay-at-home mom with three kids, sometimes we set up our online store sales very last minute — like “oh, it’s almost 10.10, we don’t have a promo up yet!” It’s easy to set-up a discount code with a few taps on the keyboard, or highlight a product that you want to push.
5. Work From Home
Having an online store allows you to the benefit (and savings!) of working from home.
I mostly work from home, coordinating with office staff remotely for the day-to-day operations (fulfilling orders, checking on inventory). Of course, it would be more “tutok” to be in the office everyday and be more hands-on, but my partners and I agree that raising our kids is a priority.
Truthfully, it can be distracting and exhausting to be a work-from-home parent, but it’s a privilege and a blessing for us.
How To Start?
If you’re super new, I would suggest you start selling online in Facebook Marketplace, community selling pages, Carousell, and Viber groups. That way, you can test the saleability of your product without spending on your own website. It doesn’t take a lot of time to snap a good photo, write an interesting description and wait for inquiries.
If you want to take a step forward and elevate your brand and product, your best bet is to have your own e-commerce store. This can supplement your selling on free platforms, or replace them totally.
My favorite, tried-and-tested e-commerce platform is Shopify.com because it’s so easy. For a non-techie like me, I was able to build two websites in less than a week. Then after our business started to grow a bit, I trained a staff member to handle the website so I could focus on my core responsiblities in the business.