2020 Final Summary
2021 is here and so yeah 2020 happened. Businesses of all sizes have been affected by the Covid 19 pandemic. From navigating varying public health orders and restrictions, assistance programs, and politically motivated pandemic conflict, it’s been a tough year. Additionally unrest resulting from unresolved social justice issues, and an extremely divisive election campaign, are driving factors pressuring workers and small business owners. But small business owners and workers are adapting and creating new business opportunities for themselves online.
Nothing Changes Overnight
“Out of adversity comes opportunity”~Benjamin Franklin
Simply because the planetary odometer rolls over another revolution around the sun, doesn’t mean circumstances will automatically improve in 2021. A global pandemic continues to rage mostly unchecked. We still have a corrosive political culture with rampant corruption. Social justice issues remain unresolved. And though authorities are now administering vaccines, too many people are failing to take proper precautions. I’m not sure we’ve reached rock bottom just yet.
This adversity in the world provides opportunities for adapting a new business approach or idea. I’ve been encouraging small business owners to build and maintain their digital presence for years. Many continue to hold off because of the expense or perceived technical difficulties. No time like the present. Further many workers or parents that find themselves now stuck at home, can easily build an e commerce business with drop shipping, or their own products and services.
Building An eCommerce Business
So maybe you’re looking to move brick and mortar products online to increase sales. Could be you’re an artist or creative type looking for an outlet to sell your work. Or possibly you want to start a new online store selling others products. Are you looking to add merchandise to your existing blog? You’ve got your idea and a plan, now it’s time to start building.
The first thing you’ll need for your store is hosting or a location on the internet to do business. There are a number of quality eCommerce platforms, such as Shopify, Etsy, and eBay. These platforms provide everything you need to run a digital business. You can expect to pay varying per sale fees such as on eBay, or monthly subscription fees such as Shopify.
Another great option is to build your own website using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or Joomla. These open source software options are free to install and use, however you will need a reliable web hosting service.
When I was building my very first business website in 2010, I researched web hosting and found the highly rated GreenGeeks and signed up. And while there are other highly rated and great web hosting companies, GreenGeeks web hosting platform is powered entirely (300%) by renewable energy. I love GreenGeeks, and you will too.
Setting Up Your Store
Now that you have web hosting, it’s time to set up your website. I prefer to use the WordPress CMS. It’s open source software with a vibrant community of developers and users. It offers an easy to use block editor with infinite customization options. GreenGeeks includes a simple 1 click install of WordPress in cPanel.
After you’ve installed WordPress on your server, it is easily customizable with free and premium plugins and there a great free plugins for just about anything you could need.
If you’re building an eCommerce store, you’ll definitely want to install the WooCommerce plugin. You’ll need a payment gateway as well. PayPal, Square, and others offer WordPress plugins to easily access their services from your site.
Consider premium plugins for website security such as WordFence, though if your short on funds and just getting started, you can use the free version for a time. GreenGeeks is very security conscious, and monitors your site 24/7 for invasive activities, but you should add your own layers of security as well.
You can add products, and customize the look and functionality of your site from your WP dashboard.
Drop shipping is a simple way to sell products online. Essentially you are selling other peoples products in your store. Different companies have different fee and service models. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Print on demand is one of the easiest ways to start a drop shipping business. Companies like Printful let you customize numerous products to sell in your store. There as no up front expense as your products only print and ship when a customer orders them. No inventory to keep. No warehousing expense (though Printful offers warehousing as well).
So with the main street economy on the brink, business is moving online. Competition is fierce. But with work and perseverance, you can be successful in mitigating economic adversity in 2021.
And if your seriously considering an eCommerce business in 2021, now is the time to start with GreenGeeks. Until January 10, 2021 their EcoSite hosting plans are up to 75% off when you sign up for 36 months. The EcoSite Lite plan for one website is all most people need to get started, and at the current sale price of $2.49/month, that’s less than $90 for three years of hosting. Compare that to Shopify whose basic plan starts at $30/month. Sure you have to do a bit more of the work, but with savings like that, you could afford to hire Homestead Digital Media Services to build your site and still have money left over at the end of three years.