By setting up an online convenience store, you can continue providing essential supplies to the general public while keeping your business going and reaching a larger audience beyond your local area.
Starting a home-based convenience business can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. It may seem easy, but it requires the same amount of preparation and planning as any other business. Still, it offers many more benefits, like skipping going into the office and being in control of their own hours, schedule, and operations.
If you don’t know where to start, Elie Y. Katz, President and CEO of National Retail Solutions (NRS), has offered a few steps to starting a successful home-based business.
- Research Your Industry: Before starting your business, it is essential to brainstorm what products and services your business will sell and to develop a winning business idea. Ideally, you should ask yourself what do customers need and do not have? Or what do customers need more of? “Make a list of potential ideas and research if it is trending and if there is competition. This can help you identify opportunities in the market and gain an edge over your competition.” Katz said.
- Creating a Business Plan: Making a business plan is a simple process, especially for a home-based business. Because you are your own boss, you can set your own hours, schedule, and how you want things done. “You should first write down the business’s description, goals, financial plan, products and services offered, employees, and budget,” Katz said. “From there, you should come up with a name for the business.”
Get creative and think of some words that can describe what your business is all about. “If you are having trouble coming up with a name for your business, there are name generators that can help you come up with one, such as Namelix, Looka and NameSnack,” Katz said. “But be sure that the name you pick isn’t already taken. You can check to see if it isn’t already taken by using Instant Domain Search, NameCheap, or GoDaddy.”
Next, you’ll want to create a website to reach more customers. For example, some platforms that businesses use are Wix, WordPress, GoDaddy, and Google Domains.
- Choose a Business Structure: After researching and creating your business plan, you’ll need to decide on the best structure for your company. “Depending on the type of business you plan to operate and whether or not you’ll have employees, you may choose to set up as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company, partnership, or corporation,” Katz said. “Your business structure will affect how much you pay in taxes, paperwork, and liability.” Regardless of which structure you choose, you’ll need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each before making a decision.
- Obtain Licenses and Permits: You’ll need to obtain the necessary licenses and permits to operate your business. This depends on your location and what products or services you are offering. “Research zoning laws carefully and consider how they will impact your plans,” Katz said. “Most states do not require licenses but you may need one from your city or county. When applying for licenses and permits, you may need to conduct research to determine which ones are needed based on the type of business you operate.”
Some businesses may need to get a health permit, home occupation permit, seller’s permit, ABC licenses, etc. To apply, you can go online to your state website.
- Find Financing Options: Starting a business can be expensive even with budgeting and ensuring you have enough funds to run the business. But there may be unexpected expenses and that is why it is important to plan for the future and save up a rainy day fund to prepare ahead of time. “Some businesses like to use a cash advance to get the funds they need in as little as 24-48 hours. It is much easier to obtain funds from a cash advance than waiting for a bank loan to get approved,” Katz said.
Research what companies can offer you a cash advance and be sure to look out for any hidden fees and interest charges.
- Your Business’s Brand: Your company’s image is reflected in your brand. It is essential to ensure that your brand reflects the company’s goals, values and mission in order to make a positive impression on consumers. Think about who your target audience is and what they would like to see in your business.
“Ideally, the look of your brand should also be consistent throughout your website. Color psychology oftentimes helps businesses determine what kind of message they want to convey to their customers,” Katz said. “Yellow, for example, represents optimism and warmth; some famous yellow logos include UPS, Subway, BestBuy, McDonalds, and others. If you aren’t sure what colors to use, try using the Coolors program to get started.”
- Set up an Office Space: Since you are going to be working from home, it is essential to set up an office space that will make it feel like you are actually in a professional environment. A comfortable desk and chair, good lighting, and a distraction-free environment can all be important components of creating an office space that you will enjoy spending time in. Be sure to make it in a dedicated space for you to work in.
- Choose a Credit Card Processing Company: When looking for a credit card company, be sure to look out for any hidden fees and fine print that can affect you and your credit. That is why it is important to find an honest and transparent company that has no hidden charges and is upfront about any associated costs. Remember to carefully research, look at reviews from customers, and compare before making a decision.
- Marketing Your Business: “Now is the time to market your business and start broadening your customer base,” Katz said. “To do this, you will need to use social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.”
You may also want to create advertisements on all of these platforms. Advertising through social media platforms gives you the opportunity to reach a wide audience, build relationships with customers, and increase awareness of your brand. There are also other ways to reach customers by using SEO, SEM, and posting in local listings and publications.
Building your company from the ground up requires a lot of hard work, dedication and resilience. Without these components, success may be hard to come by, as it can lead to a variety of pitfalls along the way.
“There will be moments of doubt, difficulty and failure,” Katz said. “However, it is critical to stay motivated and focused despite any obstacles that may arise. With this guide, you can have a perfect plan in place to run the home-based business you can build into a success.”