10 Keys to Starting a Successful Drop Ship Business from Home

Over $2 trillion in ecommerce sales are expected in the United States in 2017, that number will grow to over $4 trillion in just four years. Drop-shipping is one form of merchandise fulfillment that a growing number of ecommerce business like Shoe Carnival and Pier One Imports is using, according to the Wall Street Journal.

For those unfamiliar with the term, drop-shipping is an arrangement whereby the manufacturer directly ships items to the end consumer. That means that the retail company, in this case your ecommerce store, does not handle or house merchandise.

This article will review ten key ways potential small business founders can start a successful drop-shipping business from home.

  1. Find an underserved niche

The ecommerce industry is crowded. Organizations like Amazon, Wayfair, Bed Bath and Beyond and many others are able to successfully serve hundreds of millions of customers each year. In order to compete as a small ecommerce company, you should aim to identify an underserved set of potential customers. That way, it will be easier to grow your business without needing to worry about competition from larger organizations.

To identify potential niches, consider creating an MVP (minimum viable product) and promote the product via social media ads. If done well, you can determine the potential demand for a product before you even begin working with a manufacturer. Of course, the beauty of drop-shipping is that you can immediately start selling merchandise, even with an MVP, since you won’t need to warehouse the products.

  1. Get to know the customer by creating personas

In order to ensure that the website design, product offering and go-to-market strategies are correct, you need to have a great understanding of your target customer. To build this understanding, consider creating a marketing persona. Think of a persona as an archetype, using geographic, demographic and psychographic information, you can create an accurate picture of the type of person you would like to target.

Once you understand what motivates your potential customer, it will become easier to merchandise and market your drop-shipping ecommerce business.

  1. Find a manufacturer willing to drop-ship

With a niche and customer persona already established, it is time to find a manufacturer that is willing to drop-ship merchandise. Platforms like Aliexpress can help you to quickly find manufacturers that are willing to send merchandise directly to the consumer. Be sure to conduct a background check of the factory before making a commitment, as a poor experience will lead to cascading negative consequences.

  1. Calculate associated manufacturing costs

If you are interested in manufacturing items outside of the United States, be sure to calculate transportation and duty costs first. While international manufacturers are often able to produce goods below domestic competitors, additional freight and tariff costs can make items prohibitively expensive.

  1. Ensure outstanding customer service to create word of mouth business

As mentioned earlier, poor customer service can create cascading negative consequences. Be sure to provide customers with outstanding service in order to generate word of mouth referral customers.

Word of mouth customers are ideal for small businesses, because the cost of acquiring a customer via word of mouth is lower than any other channel. Low customer acquisition cost (CAC) is a winning formula for an ecommerce business.

  1. Promote content with targeted ads

In the early days of your ecommerce business, it will most likely be difficult to generate demand organically. Instead, you will most likely need to invest in digital ads in order to generate customers. Social media is a great way to grow your brand, regardless of whether your customer is looking for a custom bridesmaid dress or used hockey skates.

Since you should already have an idea of who your target customer is (thanks to the customer personas you created) it will be easy for you to use advanced social media advertising targeting options to ensure that every penny spent is spent on driving the right customer.

  1. Track the fluctuation of business metrics, and adjust pricing

There are a few business metrics that every drop-shipping business owner should track. Customer acquisition costs, lifetime value, website visitor conversion rate, and customer satisfaction are a few of the key metrics that you should track.

When viewed as a whole, the metrics will provide you with an effective way to benchmark and pulse check the performance of your drop-shipping business.

  1. Pivot to other products if necessary

Remember that a benefit of drop-shipping is that you do not need to hold inventory if it isn’t selling. If you notice demand for your products is declining, consider pivoting to other products that are more in demand.

Create another MVP and test the market once more with social media ads to identify a new product, or a new niche audience to target. 

  1. Contact customers to evaluate performance

Customer service, good or bad, has the power to make or break your drop-ship business in the long run. In order to properly evaluate customer satisfaction, consider contacting a handful of customers directly. Ask them the standard NPS and CSAT questions, and ask them what else your business would need to do in order for them to tell their friends about their experience.

  1. Ask for advice from other ecommerce vendors

If this is your first drop-shipping business, learning the ins and outs of what it takes to be successful can take time. Consider accelerating your education by contacting ecommerce business owners operating in niches you are not targeting. Ask them for advice, and most likely some entrepreneurs will be more than willing to help.

Conclusion

Ecommerce businesses and drop-shipping businesses specifically are becoming increasingly successful. It has never been easier to identify a target market, find manufacturers, and promote products than today. By following the ten steps outlined in this article, you will be well on your way to creating a thriving drop-shipping business.

Healthy Marriage

As everyone says, marriage isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time, patience and compromise. The times you are tested the most are during hard times like an illness, death, money issues, family problems, etc. Below are some key tips for those rough times that will get you through it. They are some helpful hints to a healthy marriage.

Date Nights

Most people will tell you it is important to keep things fun and fresh in your marriage. Planning regular date nights is great for your marriage. This is particularly true if you have kids. It is important to set aside time with just the two of you without any distractions (aka kids!). It is a simple reminder of your relationship and what the two of you have together. A date night can be a nice dinner or something as simple as going to the park for a picnic. Nothing fancy is required, the only requirements is the two of you and time.

Come up with a financial plan

One of the most common reasons of marriage distress is finances. Money problems can definitely cause marriage problems and they should be addressed from the beginning. Even prior to marriage they should be discussed. Things such as saving money, what you spend your money on, what you want for your children financially, etc. are all important things to agree upon as a couple. Come up with a financial plan between the two of you that you can compromise on so that there aren’t any disagreements about it in the future.

Figure out family rules

Another common issue amongst marriages are family rules. Family rules or family norms, just like finances, should be discussed and agreed upon early in a marriage. What you may think is normal or what you think is going to happen with your family is kids may differ from your spouse. It is important that the two of you are on the same level with all of this. You also need to be on the same level with your spouse about your children and how you will raise them, discipline them, and what you expect of them.

Be Flexible

Compromise, Compromise, Compromise. That is what marriage is all about. A healthy marriage can’t be one sided, both have to give and take equally to make it work. Communication is one of the most important factors in a marriage so it is important to express yourself to your spouse and let them know what you are thinking. Pick your battles, some things may be worth it while others are not. If gambling bothers the heck out of you but your husband wants to play Golden Mane Slot Review, let him do it. There is no harm in a hobby! There may be a hobby (like shopping) that he doesn’t enjoy so it is all about compromise. However, on the other hand, you may want to pick a fight if their hobby affects the well being and safety of your family.

These key items can help you lead a healthy marriage and happy family life. Make sure to take a look into your relationship today to make sure you are doing your best.

How a Commercial Lawyer Can Help Fund Your Business

If you’re starting a small business or start up company, you might question the need for legal assistance. Guidance is available online, through the Citizens Advice Bureau and the government’s own website in an easily digestible form, which should give you everything you need to set up and run your own business while avoiding any legal pitfalls.

Unfortunately, there is a reason lawyers are highly qualified and in demand professionals: they provide a very valuable service that repays any investment you are able to afford to make in it. To help you see the sunny side of partnering up with a commercial lawyer, here’s a guide to how they can help your business get its first round of funding.

Funding Masters

One of your first and biggest challenges is securing the funding you need to set your business up. An experienced business lawyer will be invaluable here. They’ve worked with many other entrepreneurs in the same situation and know what has worked in the past, and what appeals to funders. They can help you optimise your presentations, depending on whether you are going to a bank for a traditional business loan or seeking funding from so-called Angel Investors to launch your company.

While you might be a specialist in the field you’ve chosen to start a business in, you may not necessarily be experienced in negotiation, so your lawyer can act as advocate for you in the negotiation process to make sure you get the funds you need, without surrendering your control of the business to an investor who wants a say.

A lawyer who’s been working in the commercial field for some time will have a good set of contacts, which as a more fresh faced entrepreneur you may lack, and will be able to connect you with the investors who are most likely to put money into your venture. They’ll also be able to warn you away from attractive looking funders who have a reputation for underhanded play or pressuring less experienced business owners.

Having an experienced business lawyer involved in your pitch is an extra vote of confidence for investors. They allow you punch a little above your weight, especially if you are just starting out, and by extending to you a little of their reputation allow you access a better level of funding and a more exclusive level of investment than you would ordinarily have access to.

Different Loan Options and Their Requirements

There are many reasons that people apply for a loan. You may need a loan to buy a home or car, to cover tuition or medical expenses, or simply to pay off an outstanding debt. Whatever your reason, there are a wide range of loans available and understanding the differences and requirements for approval will save you time and energy.

Mortgage

A mortgage falls into a closed loan. This type comes generally from a bank, a sub lender, or through the government in the form of an FHA or VA loan. Mortgages offered through a traditional bank have higher standards and requirements that you must meet in order to get an approval. They require a credit score on the high end of the 600s but mostly prefer people with a credit score that exceeds 700.  If you go through a sub lender or the government, you can qualify for a home loan with a score of 580 or more.

Home equity loan

A home equity loan is a loan available to homeowners who have equity in their home. There are two types, a straight home equity loan and a home equity line of credit. A bank issues the money from a home equity loan in a lump sum with a repayment of monthly fixed rate payments. A home equity line of credit is a revolving line of credit with a variable interest rate that you can use and then borrow again once you pay some of the balance off. If you should decide to sell your home while you have the loan, you will need to pay it off prior to your closing.

Personal loans

A personal loan issued through a traditional bank requires a source of collateral, generally a home and an excellent credit score. If you don’t own a home or have a fair or poor credit score, there are various types of other personal loans offered through online lenders where the line of credit loan requirements that are less stringent. They generally require only that you have a steady paycheck, a checking account in your name, and a social security card.

Car loans

It used to be that you could only get a car loan if you had a good credit score. Today, that’s changed. More banks realize that many people have a mark or two against them for reasons that were out of their control. You will pay a higher interest rate than if you had good credit, but if you pay the loan on time for a year or so, you can refinance it through another bank at a much lower interest rate.

Consolidated loans

A consolidated loan is for the purpose of paying off your outstanding debt and then consolidating it into one affordable payment. For many people who own a home, this provides an easy way to free up hundreds of dollars from their budget each month. There are several different types of consolidation loans available, including secured, unsecured, and a student debt consolidation loan. The secured requires the use of collateral, generally a home. Whereas, the unsecured loan bases it on several other factors including your credit score and income and, because there’s no collateral, has a higher interest rate.

Short-term loans

Most times, a short term loan is very easy to acquire. The requirements are much more lenient than that of a traditional bank. A short term loan can range from several months to several years. The downside to acquiring one of these versus a personal loan from a bank is that the interest rates are generally much higher. These type loans offer someone with mediocre to poor credit the chances to pay off debt, cover repairs and other expenses.

Before borrowing any money from a bank or another lender, make sure that you carefully calculate your budget to make sure that you have the money coming in each month to accommodate another bill. If you don’t, then taking on more debt is only going to make your situation worse.

Insurance Policies that Everyone Must Have

You can insure pretty much anything, but should you? Not necessarily. Some people need life insurance while others might not be ready for that. Some insurance is not needed by the average person, such as credit card insurance or life insurance for a child. However, there are a few different insurance policies that everyone should have regardless of their life circumstances. Here are a few types of insurance policies that should be considered mandatory.

Health Insurance

Everyone out there should have health insurance or risk not being able to pay for medical bills when the time comes. It’s inevitable that at some point there will be some sort of health care that you need to pay for. It would be awful to end up in an emergency situation where you were unable to pay for a service that you needed. But besides emergency situation, needing insurance is also relevant for common life events.

Any situation where a doctor’s advice or treatment is needed counts as medical care. Pregnancies, needing glasses, etc. Our bodies can naturally change throughout the years. Healthcare of any kind simply costs money. Luckily there are plenty of health insurance plans that can be obtained for reasonable prices. These can fit any budget. The fees for not having health insurance are only getting higher. It’s not something to put to the side and hope for the best.

Auto Insurance

If you own a car you absolutely need auto insurance. In this case being without insurance puts you at a very high risk. Getting in an accident without insurance might leave you with very high bills to pay. That might mean covering your own car as well as someone else’s. You might be able to get away with not replacing or fixing your own car. But you won’t be able to do the same if you owe someone else the same courtesy. In the event of injury when an accident is found to be your fault there might also be medical bills to contend with as well. It’s better to be covered and then you’ll never have to worry about it. Check out Auto Insurance Toronto & Shop Insurance Canada to find the best rates with the right coverage. You might never get into an accident and maintain a perfect driving record, but it’s still best to be covered each and every day.

Homeowners Insurance

If you own a home you should absolutely have homeowners insurance. But the bank will actually make sure that you do, since taking out a loan to cover a home means that they have a strong investment in the future of the home. If for some reason you cancel your homeowner’s insurance or fall behind on a payment, the bank will start coverage with their own insurance without delay. Then they’ll send you a much higher bill for having to do so. It’s smarter to find the best policy for you and your home and then keep up with your payments to avoid any extra fees. Once you pay off your mortgage the bank no longer has an investment in that decision. But it is still considered the right choice.

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