Are you ready to start your own online boutique??
Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this blog post, I’m going to teach you exactly how to start your own online boutique from scratch.
BUSINESS PLANNING + BUDGETING
Before you begin buying items to sell for your new online boutique, you must first create a Business Plan.
Creating a Business Plan for your business is the first step in building a proper strategy for your boutique because a business plan will help you plan for your success. Creating a Business Plan for your boutique will help you understand how to:
- Fund your business
- Market your business
- Handle finances for your business
- Properly manage your business
- Be more responsible with taxes
Creating a business plan will put everything into perspective for you, and help you see your business’s strengths and weaknesses as a new boutique on the market.
This step is crucial to you making money and not wasting money in the beginning of your process like most people do. (I don’t want this to be you).
Filing Your Business
I talk more about the different business entities you can file for your brand in my ebook, “Fundamentals to Building Your Brand Online,” but the most popular filing structures for new business are:
- LLC – A limited liability company (LLC) is a corporate structure in the United States whereby the owners are not personally liable for the company’s debts or liabilities. Limited liability companies are hybrid entities that combine the characteristics of a corporation with those of a partnership or sole proprietorship.
- DBA – Sometimes it makes sense for a company to do business under a different name. To do this, the company has to file what’s known as a DBA, meaning “doing business as.” A DBA is also known as a “fictitious business name,” “trade name,” or “assumed name.” Business structure for sole-proprietorship businesses (owned by 1 person).
You can file your legal paperwork at your local courthouse with the County Clerk.
Once your business is filed with the state, you can apply for a Seller’s Permit to buy wholesale items to resell for your business.
Most states allow you to file your application for a seller’s permit (or other sales tax registration) and pay online. Go to the website of your State Department of Revenue (or other designation) to find the online link.
When you create your business, you have the option to trademark your business name and logo right away, or save money to do this step later.
Trademarks are pricey, so if you decide to invest in this legal process at a later date, search the Trademark office for your business name to ensure there are no current trademarks filed with your business name or a business name that is too similar to yours.
You can check for your business name online at https://www.uspto.gov/trademark, and click on “Search Trademarks > Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)” to find if there are any similar business names on file with the Trademark Office. (You can do a “basic word search.”)
I recommend for new businesses to create a separate checking account or business checking account to keep your business expenses separate from your personal expenses.
Once you file your business with the state, you can use the provided legal documentation to create a new bank account for your business.
Creating A Budget
In your Business Plan, you will also have the opportunity to create a Budget. This step is very important!
A preliminary budget will help you map out your strategy for your projected revenue and expenses for your online boutique.
BUILDING YOUR WEBSITE + SECURING YOUR DOMAIN
Building your website and securing your online domain establishes your boutique with its own unique online presence.
Unlike with social media, having your own website for your business allows you the opportunity to own internet space and have the flexibility to control the user’s experience.
Spend some time thinking about the different ways you want your customer to experience your brand online, and how you can make it easy for someone to buy from your business.
When it comes to choosing the right hosting site for your online boutique, you want to think of these 3 things:
- Accessibility: Questions to ask yourself, “Will it be easy to access my website to make changes and edits to product listings and the theme?”
- Maintenance: Questions to ask yourself, “Will it be easy and user-friendly? Is there a great support team in case I have technical questions?”
- Annual Pricing: Questions to ask yourself, “Can I afford what I’m ultimately looking for?”
The two most popular hosting sites to consider for your online boutique:
- Shopify (my recommendation; 14-day free trial)
- Big Cartel
When it comes to picking the website domain for your boutique, think of your domain as the house of your online boutique. You want your domain name to be something that is easy to remember and easy to spell.
The most popular domain providers are Google Domains and GoDaddy.
If you buy your domain through Google Domains, you can create a separate email for your online boutique that will have the website domain of your boutique in the email address using G Suite by Google ($5/month service). If you buy your domain using GoDaddy, you have the option to create a domain based email for your business on GoDaddy.
FUNDING YOUR BOUTIQUE
There are 3 main ways you can fund your business:
- Small business loan
- Crowd surfing
- Personal Funding
Small Business Loan
- SMALL BUSINESS LOAN PROS: DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT ON PERSONAL FUNDING TO SUPPORT IDEA
- CAN RECEIVE FUNDING HELP FROM LOAN COMPANIES LIKE UPSTART, OR BANK INSTITUTE
- SMALL BUSINESS LOAN CONS: HAVE TO PAY MONEY BORROWED BACK WITH INTEREST (CALCULATED BASED ON CREDIT SCORE AND FINANCIAL HISTORY)
- MUST ENSURE BUSINESS WILL BE PROFITABLE IN ORDER TO PAY BACK LOAN MONEY BORROWED FROM FINANCIAL INSTITUTE, OR HAVE MONEY SAVED TO PAY BACK LOAN
Have you ever applied for a business loan? Based on personal experience, and testimonies from my clients and students, be very sure you can pay back a business loan before applying.
Never apply for a business loan when desperate. You will make an impulsive decision based on fear and not reason (don’t put yourself into debt!)
- CROWD SURFING PROS: FRIENDS & FAMILY CAN SUPPORT ONLINE AND SHARE WITH PLATFORMS LIKE GO FUND ME, FACEBOOK FUNDRAISERS, AND KICKSTARTER
- MONEY RAISED THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY BACK
- ONLINE SHARING TO MULTIPLE NETWORKS EASY TO SET UP
- TYPICALLY FREE TO CREATE
- CROWD SURFING CONS: DEPENDENT UPON INDIVIDUALS HEART TO GIVE
- SOME PLATFORMS HAVE FEES TAKEN OUT OF MONEY RAISED
I’ve used crowd surfing techniques and some of the platforms mentioned, and from my personal experience, this is a great option for new and exciting businesses that the consumer would find interesting and willing to support (i.e. businesses that support the community or go to a good cause, new technology companies, etc.).
- PERSONAL FUNDING PROS: DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT PAYING BACK MORE MONEY THAN BORROWED LIKE WITH LOANS BORROWED FROM FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS
- DON’T HAVE TO DEPEND ON OTHER PEOPLE TO SUPPORT DREAM
- PERSONAL FUNDING CONS: PERSONALLY LIABLE FOR MONEY SPENT
- SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL TO HAVE MONEY NEEDED FOR BUSINESS
If you choose to use your personal financing to support your business, be sure to have a repayment plan built in to pay yourself back the money you invested! Treat yourself like a financial institution.
SOURCING FOR PRODUCTS: BUYING
For your online boutique, you have the option to sell:
- Wholesale – the selling of goods in large quantities to be retailed by others.
- Original custom clothing – Custom clothing created by owner or in-house designer.
- Drop Shipping goods – supply chain management method in which the retailer does not keep goods in stock but instead transfers its customer’s orders and shipment details to either the manufacturer, another retailer, or wholesaler, who then ships the goods directly to the customer.
When it comes to finding the perfect wholesale products for your online boutique, here are a few things to think about:
- Vendor (company you will buy wholesale items from)
- Location (what location you will but items from; calculate shipping or travel costs)
- Price (the price you are willing to spend to buy items for your boutique)
- Quality (finding quality pieces for low cost)
It’s important for you to be very clear on the type of items you want sold in your online boutique, and the style and fit you are looking for.
Ever vendor is different, so you want to ensure that you take the time to find quality vendors for your boutique, both online and locally. You can use some vendor photos for items shown on your business website, or take your own photos for the items you sell online.
Most wholesale vendors offer items in packs of 6. These packs will typically come in sizes:
- (2) small; (2) medium; (2) large
- (3) small; (2) medium; (1) large
You can also shop plus sizes from certain vendors to accommodate for more sizing options for your customers.
Was all of that information helpful for you??
I know it’s easier said than done, but I wanted to create this blog post to help you get started with starting your dream online business.
I pray it was a blessing to you, so be sure to interact with me in the comment section about the online boutique you want to create.
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