Fast Company, November 23, 2012
Starting a business from scratch is a nerve-wracking proposition, as any Tums-crunching entrepreneur can tell you.
But with the right partnerships and guidance, the whole experience can be a little more palatable–not to mention profitable. Enter Shopify’s Build-a-Business competition, which helps anyone with an idea to hang out a shingle online. Winners each get a $50,000 investment and mentoring from storied entrepreneurs including Tim Ferriss, Tina Roth Eisenberg, Daymond John, and lean startup guru Eric Ries. Now in its third year, the competition has become a moneymaking powerhouse for small businesses: The 8,000 entrepreneurs participating this year (up from 3,060 in all of 2011) have so far netted $14 million in sales, up from $12 million a year ago.
In the spirit of giving, we polled some of Shopify’s recent success stories for their step-by-step tips on getting a consumer e-commerce business off the ground. Here’s what they had to say.
Don’t sweat the e-commerce.
If you have a great idea for a product but don’t know the first thing about how to sell online, don’t let it stop you. Melissa Winn, of LIttle Green Pouch, a reusable food pouch for babies and kids, said she was worried about the e-commerce aspect of their business going in, but quickly found easy online solutions for each part of the puzzle.
“We were able to completely design our own site on Shopify, outsource all of our fulfillment with seamless integration to Shipwire, and manage all of our payments with Stripe and PayPal,” Winn says.
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