Category Archives: Getting Started

Ready to start an online store?

With all the news about people making a ton of money online, many aspiring entrepreneurs are excited at the prospect of starting an ecommerce store. However, many people don’t think through all the things that they need to consider before they even start the process of building an ecommerce site.

Here are eight things to consider before starting an online store.

1. What Products Are You Going to Sell?

One of the most important decisions is determining which products you will sell on your online store. Your best bet is to start small – with a few select products that are based around a specific niche, i.e. breastfeeding products, scuba diving gear, hiking products, travel gadgets, hemp products, etc. Start with a handful of products in that niche – you can always add more products to your store as you grow. Check out your competition and see who you’re up against.

Be sure to pick a niche that you’re personally interested in. If you’re not interested in what you’re selling, you will quickly lose your passion.

Also, look for unique products that can’t be bought at Target, Walmart or other big brand stores — you will never be able to compete with them on price or promotion.

For instance, when I had an ecommerce site, I searched for mom- or parent-invented products that weren’t available through mass market stores. Plus, these types of product manufacturers are typically more willing to work with you on terms and drop shipping (which we will talk about in a little bit.) You can also look for innovative products to sell on crowdfunding sources like Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

When you determine which niche products you’re going to sell, see if there are industry associations, trade websites or magazines. If so, join, follow and subscribe. Also, if there are product tradeshows around your product niche, attend these trade shows to discover new products, speak with the manufacturer reps directly and learn more about the industry in general. Often at the tradeshows you will be able to negotiate better pricing or drop shipping arrangements – especially if the manufacturer is launching a new product and they’re looking for new distributors.  Continue reading

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What is the SCORE Business Learning Center?

The SCORE Business Learning Center (SBLC) provides aspiring and existing small business owners the business strategies and tactics needed to make sound decisions and achieve greater levels of success.

The SBLC supplements the business resources available on score.org. It fills the gap between the high-level content on our website and the personalized expertise obtained from a mentor.

At the end of a course, users will feel they have a better understanding of their chosen topic and the resources available for continuous learning. They will also have a mentor they can work with to apply the learning to their business.

You will find it here… https://www.score.org/biz-learning-center

Saying “I Do” to a franchise.

Like marriage, buying a franchise is a long-term commitment.

Before you say yes, make sure you understand to the in’s and out’s of franchising what it takes to be successful.

The Commitment

franchise opportunity

Be Your Own Boss. The phrase is repeated often in franchise circles, and it can be intoxicating to those considering franchise ownership. It means freedom from the typical 9 to 5. It means control. It means you call the shots. All of this is true, but being your own boss also means that you have responsibilities. You are responsible for your employees, your customers, and your business. Their well-being is in your hands. That is why it is essential for anyone considering franchise ownership to weigh all the factors that go into being the boss and understand what it takes to be successful. Franchise ownership is a long-term commitment much like a marriage. It’s good to treat it that way, from courtship – researchingbfranchises – to “I Do” – signing the Franchise Agreement. Remember the goal is happiness and financial independence.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: Would your hobby make a sustainable business?

Running a successful business centered on doing something you love is the dream of many entrepreneurs. What could be more gratifying than making a living sharing your talents and skills with others?

On the Internet, you’ll find a long list of articles and resources offering advice and insight specifically geared toward hobbyists who want to take the step and go from “passion” to “profit.”   Continue reading

3 Likely Reasons Your Business Loan Application May Have Been Rejected

Many small business owners turn to borrowed capital to fuel growth and fund other initiatives, yet access to borrowed capital can sometimes be a challenge. Depending upon where you apply, your business credit profile, and other factors, it might be difficult to get a loan approval. Not all lenders look at the same criteria when evaluating whether or not they’ll approve a small business loan.

But here are three red flags that could put the brakes on any loan application:

1. You have a bad personal credit score

With the exception of maybe the biggest and most tenured small businesses, the need for a business owner to maintain a good personal credit score will never go away. With a personal credit score below 680, for example, it’s unlikely you’ll find success at the bank. And the SBA threshold is around 650 for most applications.

Some non-bank lenders will approve a loan with a lower credit score but will want to see other metrics in place. If your personal score is struggling, making improvements will help increase the odds of success when you need a small business loan.

The first step is to find out where you are. Annualcreditreport.com is one place you can access a free copy of your credit report once per year. You can also check out the three main personal credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and Transunion, who all offer low cost credit monitoring.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How can I use the business model canvas?

methodology-b5e4177c0e51a4b1c552fbec08455ccd8643b8ac6fcced615e7b2452e4d5563bThe Business Model Canvas is an entrepreneurial tool that helps you visualize, design, and reinvent your business model. It was developed by Swiss business theorist and author Alexander Osterwalder.

For a startup, using the tool can help you develop a clear view of your value proposition, operations, customers, and finances. As an existing business owner, you can use it to identify how the different components of your business relate to each other.

It can help you decide where you need to focus your time and effort.  Continue reading

Why Your Business Needs Its Own Email Domain

why-your-business-needs-its-own-email-domainWhen you first started your small business, did you haphazardly begin sending emails from your personal email address? Or, if you’re still in the planning stages of starting a new business, do you think you’ll be fine sending your business emails from a Yahoo! or Gmail account?

If so, think again. The email domain from which you send your emails has a major effect on your business’s credibility and reputation. Here are six reasons why every small business should have its own email domain.

Continue reading