By Alyssa Ficcaglia
In my first couple blog posts I shared with you my favorite resources for starting and growing your Etsy business, and some tips on how to stay organized in that business. For this post I want to share some must have items you should buy or plan to buy while first starting your small eCommerce business.
When you are in the early stages of your eCommerce business, it is hard to figure out everything you will need to help get you started. I have compiled a list of just a few of my favorite must-haves to help get you started. These are items that we personally use everyday in our business. I broke them down into categories.
1. Get Your Business Registered
You can not start a legitimate online business without going through the proper channels of registering your business entity with the state you live in and the federal government. You need to be able to collect sales tax and report your income tax at the end of the year. Each state is different so make sure you do your research.
2. Open a Checking Account for your Business
Opening an account for your business is beneficial for many reasons. The main reason is to keep your personal and business finances separate. The second reason is it makes tracking your expenses and income at the end of the year a whole lot easier. Anthony has a blog post of his own planned to go over the important money stuff you should keep in mind.
Really any accounting software applies here, but we use QuickBooks. Trust me when I tell you, the sooner you get QuickBooks set up and the sooner you become acclimated with it, the better.
DYMO 4XL LABEL PRINTER
Getting a label printer is by far the most beneficial and cost effective thing you can do for your business. The up front cost may seem like a lot, but it will save you a boat load of money in the long run. By printing your own labels at home you avoid having to pay the standard shipping rates at the post office. You can save upwards of 60% on postage by printing them at home ahead of time. I love our DYMO printer because I never have to worry about ink, it hooks up directly to my computer with a USB, and it easily prints 4x6 postage labels. The added bonus of printing your labels ahead of time, is you can just drop off your packages and don't have to wait in line (unless you want to you because your post office people are the best).
If you get a DYMO Label printer you are going to need to purchase labels for it to print on. This has been the best deal I found for high quality shipping labels that are compatible with the DYMO printer. They adhere well to my shipping boxes, don't smudge after printing, and one 4 pack box will last you quite awhile with 220 labels per roll.
If you are going to pricing your postage at home and printing your own labels, then are going to need a postage scale. We recently upgraded to the Smart Weigh Digital Shipping and Postage Scale and so far I love it. We needed to upgrade because we needed something that could weigh items/boxes that were more than 10 lbs. But figure out what works best for your businesses current needs. Our first scare was the Brecknell PS-7 Digital Postal Scale,
it is cheaper and weighs up to 7 lbs. Remember that no scale is 100% accurate so always round up the ounces, but despite that both scales have given us great results and we haven't had any issues at the post office.
This one is pretty obvious, if you are going to be shipping products you need something to ship them in. Wrapping them with brown kraft shipping paper is an inexpensive way to start out,or if you you sell small lightweight items bubble mailers are great, but if your products can't be wrapped or stuck in an envelope then boxes are the way to go. There are a few options out there for you. First, check USPS.com to see if any of their free priority mail boxes (not the flat rate boxes) can fit your items. If USPS doesn't have a box big enough or small enough for your items the next best thing is ULINE or Amazon. ULINE is a great tool for business owners, they have an extensive product catalog with products to meet all your mailing/office needs. ULINE can be on the pricier side so if your business isn't there yet, Amazon is a great tool as well. You can find boxes, packing peanuts
, and fragile stickers
for great prices and with PRIME shipping most of the time.
Things You Will Need But Not Right Away
Creating a brand is so important for your business' success especially in the crafting market. Branding materials like stickers, packaging inserts, stamps, flyers, a sweet logo, and even your color scheme can help you stand out and give your items a more professional touch. Whether you get your materials from a small handmade marketing shop like The House of Hays on Etsy, or from a big chain website like Vistaprint, the materials you get for your business should be well thought out and cohesive. You don't need to go spending a ton of money on branding materials right out the gate especially because when you are first starting out, your brand and style are still evolving. You can start out with just simple thank you cards and maybe a set of business cards.
As your business begins to grow start thinking about how you want to continue to raise awareness about your brand. Advertising can be cheap, but can also run you a pretty hefty bill with no return if you aren't careful. Do your research on how to run successful ads and start off small with a simple Facebook Ad campaign here and there. We maybe run one $10 ad a month, if at all, because we are still learning how to get the most out of the ads we run.
Running a small eCommerce business is challenging yet so rewarding. I hope you found information in this blog post helpful. If you have any must have essentials that work for your business, we would love to hear them. So leave a comment below!