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You're here because you're finally ready to take the leap and start your online boutique. You've been dreaming of this, but you're overwhelmed and don't know where to begin. You keep putting it off for tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes! Well I'm here to tell you, tomorrow is TODAY. Today is the day you stop thinking and start doing to make your dream of opening an online boutique a reality.
In this second part we will be going over the fun stuff that's getting your website, and finally purchasing products! If you haven't already, make sure to check out part 1 of How to Start Your Online Boutique so that you get all caught up! Part 1 covers all the boring, legal stuff, that unfortunately we must all take care of to launch our business. I tried my best to break everything down step-by-step, but feel free to email me if you have any questions!
NOW LET'S HAVE SOME FUN!
You've got your permit, your business name, your DBA, what's next?
Business Bank Account - Having a business checking account is a MUST to have your business finances organized and it is a MUST to keep your personal finances separate from your business transactions. Every expense that you incur for your business should be centralized in one place. You don't want to be using personal income for business expenses, unless you totally HAVE to. Make sure to do your research and don't be afraid to ask questions, most banks will negotiate with you as long as they have your business. You will need to take all of your documents and permits to open your account. My best advice would be to find a bank that does not charge a monthly fee and does not require a minimum amount that needs to be in the account at all times. This will be one less expense you'll need to worry about especially if you're just starting out.
Domain Name - A domain name is in the most basic terms your website's address on the Internet. Now you can buy your domain name in Part 1 once you've decided on your boutique's name so that you secure the domain as well. Keep in mind your business name and domain name do not have to be exactly the same! Also, often times if your name is unique enough and so is the domain then it'll more than likely be available but you can always check beforehand!
For example, a boutique can be named Fashion Square Boutique and their domain name might be shopfashionsquare.com. So, where can you get a domain name? You need to purchase one from a web hosting company. You can go that route, or you can actually purchase a domain straight from the e-commerce software that you choose. My web hosting of choice has been:
Namecheap - I've purchased a few domains in the past from other hosting companies that didn't work out for one reason or another, but I've never had issues with Namecheap! You can get your .com domain name for as little as $8.88 a year! They also have private email service available for only about $10 more, which allows you to have an email address tied to your domain name. For example, ours is firstname.lastname@example.org. Their customer service has always been top notch for me as well.
Of course Namecheap is only one of many web hosting companies! Here's a list of the most popular:
E-commerce - The e-commerce software you choose is of course entirely up to you, but I guarantee the majority of us online shop owners will highly suggest Shopify. It's easy to set up, easy to use, and offers a lot of third-party integrations to customize it to fit your needs. There's also a ton of themes to choose from and they are so easy to apply to your store.
There's also several other platforms such as BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, and more. The great thing is that the majority of these platforms offer a 14-day or 30-day free trial so you can try before you buy and feel confident in your choice. Make sure to use the trial, unless you're absolutely sure about which one you're going with!
As I mentioned before, most of them like Shopify and BigCommerce, offer the option to purchase your domain from them directly. However, if you decide to purchase it from another web hosting company, connecting it to your e-commerce platform should be fairly quick and painless. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog where I will go over how to set up your Shopify domain and website!
Accounting Software - There's nothing worse than trying to organize all of your expenses, receipts, bills, sales, etc. at once when you haven't been keeping track throughout the year, and then tax season comes around and you have no idea where to start. THIS WAS ME. Once again, DON'T BE ME. The worst thing you can do for your business is not keep track of every little thing you do, because taxes are the MOST important thing. Get yourself an accounting software, hire a bookkeeper, whatever you need to do to stay on top of it.
Just like every other thing we've discussed, you have several different options to choosing an accounting software, but the most widely used in small to medium sized businesses, and one you've most definitely heard of is Quickbooks. Quickbooks is a great accounting software, and will provide you with everything you need to keep your books organized. Quickbooks of course is not free, and you might not have the means to pay it right off the bat, so I'm providing you with a FREE alternative and that's Wave Apps!
Wave Apps is completely FREE, and when I mean FREE, I MEAN FREE! Ok, ok, there's a few things here and there that might not be free such as, integrating with other software requires Zapier, and Zapier is not free. However, it's financial and accounting software is free, and it's what I've been using for my business in the past 6 months. You can connect all of your bank accounts and keep track of all of your transactions as well as organize everything into the proper category. It'll spit out the reports you'll need when you do your income tax returns, and overall it's been a great way to keep track of everything as a small business owner doing everything herself. Try it, it's FREE!
Social Media - Finally, don't forget to get all of your social media handles, because that's how you will get known to the world! Make sure you sign up with a business account on Instagram, Facebook (business page), Pinterest, and Twitter, or at least the ones you're the most active on.
Yay! Give yourself a pat on the back and another round of applause because you're officially a boutique business boss babe! Now comes the actual, true, real FUN part....SHOPPING! In our next posts I will be going over how to shop wholesale for your new boutique, and I'll be sharing some of my own favorite wholesalers!
Keep on going, and see you next week!
Remember to be afraid, and do it anyway.
Karina with a K
Personal IG: @_karinagal