Starting Your Small Business Series - Part 6
How to use drop shipping to start a small business for under £150
Starting a new business is actually easier than you’d think. We’re at risk of over simplifying things here, but at a very basic level here are the things you’ll need to do to get started:
- Choose a brand name, domain name, host and a dedicated email address.
- Choose a supplier or drop shipper.
- Choose an ecommerce platform, like Shopify or Bigcommerce.
- Choose a website theme or template.
- Create or source your product designs.
- Decide on a marketing budget and launch!
Deciding your marketing budget
This is possibly one of the most important aspects of starting a business. Hundreds of thousands of new businesses start up every year, and if you don’t want the website you’ve poured your heart and soul into to curl up and die in a gutter in some un-named alleyway then you need to get noticed.
The beauty of a start-up with no huge investment and little to no overheads is that you don’t need to make a profit to keep in business. If you only sell a few t-shirts a month you’ll likely cover your monthly ecommerce platform, hosting and email costs. And even if you don’t, these are cheap enough to be covered from your own pocket until you do. This means you have the time needed to play the marketing long game; to grow your social media following; to develop your brand’s blog into a valuable source of information; to have your content and products shared globally purely on merit. For now though you need to get started with paid marketing.
Your budget may be small, but setting aside some pennies for marketing is a must. There are plenty of different ways to market your business, and some are better than others, but setting a budget is something new start-ups usually struggle with.
We won’t pretend we know everything there is to know about this, simply because there are too many theories about formulas and best practices for anyone to be 100% sure what the best method, or combination of methods, is. Entrepreneur believe their formula works well, though other websites say 20-25% of your total budget in your first two years should be used for marketing. It’s all well and good, but it all depends on where your prospective audience is likely to be at any given time and how you can reach this audience effectively.
Crearte will have an audience of both designers and shoppers looking for unique clothing designs. It will take a lot of research, but we can use this information to find out where our audience spend its time online along with the best way to reach their eyes when they're there. We can also use social media marketing and PPC to push our website and products to our audience based on key words and phrases, but our niche also lends itself well to guerilla marketing tactics – like using a hefty chunk of pavement chalk to leave our Twitter tag lying around university campuses, especially those that offer fantastic fine art and design courses.
Marketing can cost as little or as much as you want it to, and you can be as creative as you want to be. Even something like chalk tagging pavements and walls could get nationwide or worldwide media coverage if it went viral, which translates to traffic and sales for the cost of a chunky piece of chalk. For Crearte we’d set a budget of something like £50 for the first month – it will almost double our total cost but we want to get a head start with marketing our brand without spending too much.
When it comes to marketing, the best thing you can possibly do is research. Look at your competitors and see how they market themselves; read about the different marketing channels open to you and what they will cost; and then dive in and give it all a go.
Looks like you’re ready to launch!
Look at that! We’ve proved it’s possible to set up a small business for under £150 and we could probably even have shaved that down to under £100 if we were being super frugal. But we’re not, because we’d like to give Crearte the best fighting chance we can on a tight budget.
Now all that’s left is to get everything rolling. Once you’ve made your store and marketing campaigns live you can sit back and watch the pennies roll in. Things will be slow at first, unless through some marketing miracle you manage to get viral attention for your brand, but that’s OK. With dedicated marketing campaigns and the determination to get your brand recognised your sales will start to rise month on month.
And with Inkthreadable at your back, anything is possible. We don’t just create and ship your awesome merchandise; we do our best to support your brand with help and advice from a team that knows a thing or two about building a successful business.
You can always speak to our team through our Live Chat service, our contact form, by email or by calling 01254 777 070. We’re actually a friendly, good looking and helpful bunch. Apart from Teddy who likes to chew our clothes or growl all day.