Since the Pandemic hit, more than 80% of Australians have been encouraged to work from home, with almost a million people left without jobs. Online businesses have surged in order to adjust to our new normal. And there's no reason why any of us can't do the same. We hope that these ideas will spark some creativity in someone out there, and help you to start your own online business all from the safety of your couch.
What makes a "home-based" business?
A home-based business is a flexible venture that you can operate using your home as a base of operations, usually as a solo operation. Typically, a home-based business doesn't buy and hold a lot of inventory and has fairly low start-up costs and overheads. This is the beauty of a "home-based" business, you can operate it from the confines of your home, and have a flexible work/life balance, since you're the boss.
Start with an idea
We start our journey at the beginning - with the ideation phase.
Every good home business starts with a good product. It's tricky, and dare I say, the most difficult part of your journey as it sets the tone for how successful your business will be in the long-run. To help you get started we've put together a checklist of things to think about when coming up with a product idea.
- You must always solve a pain point
- Think about your target market
- Go with your passions and hobbies
- Capitalize on trends early
How to find trending products
While it's great to turn something you love into a business, it's important to make sure that the product that you're selling is in demand. There are plenty of ways to find out what products are trending at any given time. Some of the best methods include searching on:
- Best sellers on marketplaces like Etsy, eBay or Amazon
- Google Trends
For instance, there are seven categories of products that have skyrocketed since lockdown:
- Home gym equipment
- Personal hygiene
- Security and protection
- Pet care
- Shaving and grooming equipment
- Gaming equipment
- Home office
If we take "Face Masks" for example and chuck it into Google Trends, you'll be able to see the rise in searches for these products (especially during the lockdown).
If you conduct a search for the same query on Etsy, you'll find over 450,000 search results. A product like this would be considered to be trending, definitely in demand, and something that could be easily done from your home.
Defining your Target Audience
Simply put, your target audience is a group of customers that are likely to respond positively to your product or service. Defining your target audience can make or break your business, because ultimately, you'll be gearing your marketing dollars to attracting this audience; and if they aren't defined correctly, you'll be spending money and missing out on sales.
There are three steps to defining your target audience:
- Create a customer profile
- Conduct market research
- Reassess your offering
Creating a customer profile
What is a customer profile? A customer profile tells you everything you need to know about a particular group of people that you want to sell your product or service to. It includes:
- Goals and motivations
- Challenges or pain points
- Online behaviour
- Preferred marketing channel
You can turn each of these customer profiles into a buyer personas. For instance, if you're looking to sell custom face masks as your home-business product, you might be looking at targeting the health-conscious individual.
Conducting market research
One of the best ways to learn about your target audience is to...talk to them (revolutionary, we know). This is usually done in three ways:
- Focus groups
For the purpose of getting your store up and running fast, surveys are probably your best bet to conduct some preliminary research, without spending yonks and yonks gathering people for a group interview. You can easily pinpoint a few groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to send your survey out to.
Do a limited (beta) test
A Beta is when you're testing out a product or service with the goal of receiving feedback, in particular, seeing if customers will actually pay for your product. A good place to start might be to do a limited release with special pricing in return for customer feedback. Invite those who purchase to virtual or in-person feedback sessions on your product. Some people will spend months or years tweaking their product before it goes out to market, we recommend getting your product out to market as soon as possible.
A great way to do this, without spending a lot of money is to run a Crowdfunding Campaign on sites like Kickstarter. It's a great way to determine if there's a market for your product, whilst creating some hype for your full release.
PRO TIP: It's really important to start collecting emails from any presale activity that you're running. It gives you a platform of customers to sell to when you launch publicly.
Choose your platform
When choosing an eCommerce platform for you to start selling on, it's important that you look for these eight eCommerce website features:
- Blog for Search Engine Optimisation
- Customer testimonials
- Support of popular payment methods
- Reporting tools
- Email marketing integration
- Ability to manage orders and inventory
- Mobile responsiveness
Popular eCommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce and BigCommerce hit most of these points, and are good choices for the beginner store owner to start their online business.
Choosing a shipping solution
Shipping can be tough, especially if you're a first-time store owner. While most eCommerce platforms have their own native shipping systems, they often come with fees, multiple plugins/apps or limited services. For instance, Shopify offers a free shipping service, but often their shipping is limited to certain regions like the US.
Interparcel offers an easy solution to this. With our integrations for Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce and Etsy, you can connect your store in seconds. Connecting your store to Interparcel's Shipping Manager, allows you to:
- Import orders from multiple sources
- Validate address and correct issues in one place
- Despatch and fulfil orders in a couple of clicks
- Maximise savings by combining multiple parcels with Smart Boxing