Ideate and Validate
To ideate and validate a business idea, start by determining the type of business and lifestyle you want. Consider if you want to sell existing products, create an invention, or launch a personal brand. Check out lists of low investment and online business ideas for inspiration. Then decide whether to make, manufacture, or resell your product.
Developing your own product
To develop your own product, you can either create it yourself or collaborate with a manufacturer, print-on-demand company, or private label partner.
Products to make or manufacture
Here are some unique business ideas for products that you can make or manufacture from scratch:
- Handmade soaps, candles, and skincare products
- Organic or specialty food items, such as artisanal cheeses, gluten-free snacks, or gourmet sauces
- Handcrafted jewellery, accessories, or clothing items
- Customised furniture, home decor, or art pieces
- Pet products, such as personalised collars, pet beds, or organic treats
- Eco-friendly cleaning products, such as natural detergents, reusable cleaning cloths, or biodegradable sponges
- Personalised gifts, such as custom photo books, engraved jewellery, or monogrammed bags
- DIY kits, such as knitting or sewing kits, home brewing kits, or terrarium-building kits
Remember to research your market and competitors to ensure that your products are unique and in demand.
This is a quick and low investment way to start a business. Research print-on-demand companies to find the right fit for your business idea.
Some print-on-demand ideas include:
- Customised t-shirts with unique designs
- Personalised mugs with funny or inspiring quotes
- Customised phone cases with unique artwork
- Socks with fun patterns or custom designs
- Jewellery with personalised messages or initials
- Customised tote bags with unique graphics or designs
Private label (or white label) ideas
Private label or white label models allow you to work with an experienced manufacturer to customise generic products to your brand and specifications. Some private label and white label product ideas you may consider include fitness equipment and cosmetics, among others.
Selling an existing product
Selling an existing product can be a fast way to start a business. You can choose to sell products from other brands by dropshipping or curating and reselling them.
Product ideas to dropship
Some popular dropshipping products include fashion accessories, phone cases, pet supplies, home decor, and beauty products. It's also a good idea to consider niche products that have a high demand and low competition. Some examples include eco-friendly products, fitness equipment, and personalised gifts. Researching current trends and consumer needs can also help you find successful dropshipping products.
Curation or resale ideas
If you're interested in starting a business through curation or resale, consider browsing wholesale marketplaces to find brands to work with. Some lifestyle and fashion brands curate collections from a number of vendors or designers, while resale business models are popular with antiques, collectibles, or vintage clothing. Keep in mind that with curation, you'll be responsible for inventory management and shipping.
Starting a side business
Starting a side hustle is a low-risk way to test the waters of entrepreneurship and make supplementary income while keeping your full-time job. You can browse lists of passive income ideas and businesses that allow you to make money from home without quitting your day job.
Monetising your social media following
If you have a strong social media following, you can use online tools to monetise your audience. Look for creator-friendly business ideas on your preferred platform to start earning revenue. Building an audience can be challenging, but you have already done the hard part!
Starting in a specific industry
It's important to understand the specific industry you're interested in before starting a business. Check out our tailored guides for advice on how to start a business in your market of choice.
Research your product and audience
Validating your product or business idea by researching your audience and the market is a crucial step before investing. You can identify gaps in the market, find underserved audiences, run focus groups, and investigate your competition to ensure there is demand for your idea.
Finding a target audience
Defining your target audience is crucial as it helps you make smart and cost-effective marketing decisions, influences product development, and can increase revenue. Building buyer personas is an effective way to identify and understand your ideal customers' needs, such as their age, interests, preferred social media platforms, and values.
Conducting market research
Market research is the collection of data about potential customers to validate if you are on the right track or need to make a shift. You can do this by surveys, focus groups, and interviews. Market analysis is similar but looks at the industry as a whole using both direct and third-party sources.
Calculate your startup costs
To calculate your startup costs, you'll need to determine all the expenses required to launch your business. This includes costs such as equipment, rent, legal fees, marketing, and more. Once you have a comprehensive list of expenses, you can estimate the total cost and determine how much funding you'll need to get started.
Writing a business plan
A business plan is a useful tool for securing funding or organising your business. It covers important aspects such as your mission statement and financials.
Conducting a break-even analysis
A break-even analysis is a financial calculation that determines the point at which your business or product becomes profitable. It can help you make pricing decisions, mitigate risk, set informed targets, and identify missing expenses.
Determining profit margins
Profit margin is the percentage of profit that a business makes from total revenue. It's affected by various factors such as industry, market prices, and costs. Higher volume sales can result in lower profit margins, whereas luxury products may have higher profit margins.
Pricing your products
To price your products, you should add up your variable costs, add a profit margin, and consider fixed costs. It's also important to consider common pricing strategies like competitive pricing, value-based pricing, or keystone pricing, but remember that not all strategies will be right for your business.
To bring your product idea to life, you have three options: make it yourself, manufacture it, or source it from a supplier. Consider your resources, budget, and time constraints to choose the best option for your business.
Making or manufacturing a product
To make handmade products, you can set up a space in your home, rented studio or office, or a co-op. Check the legal requirements for a home-based business and make sure to follow safety protocols.
When producing a product in a third-party facility, it's important to find a manufacturer who understands your industry and the specific packaging and labelling laws. A good manufacturing partner can also advise you on best practices during the product development process.
Figure out your shipping strategy
To simplify shipping for your small business, consider using ecommerce platforms like Shopify which consolidate rates and offer tools to help you make informed shipping decisions. Additionally, app integrations can help you manage inventory and solve specific shipping issues.
Setting up shipping and fulfilment
To set up shipping for your business, you should first determine your order fulfilment strategy. You can handle fulfilment yourself or outsource to a third-party logistics company as you grow. Research different fulfilment services to find the best fit for your business.
Understanding international shipping
When shipping internationally, it's important to ensure that your products are legal in the destination country, comply with labelling and packaging requirements, and complete customs paperwork. Additionally, the customer may be responsible for paying duties and taxes upon arrival, which can be collected upfront to make the fees transparent at checkout.
Inventory management is crucial for making informed decisions and avoiding customer disappointment. If you're not using a fulfilment service, dropshipping, or print-on-demand model, it's important to keep your inventory organised. Shopify App Store offers several inventory apps that can automate tasks and send low-stock notifications to help with inventory management.
Develop a brand strategy and brand identity
To develop a brand strategy and brand identity, consider the basics of who you are and what you sell, your mission statement, brand values, and brand promise, your unique selling proposition, your brand story, brand voice, and visual brand identity including logo, style guide, and brand name. A strong brand can drive a customer's decision to buy from you and create consistency and trust.
To develop a brand strategy, consider how you want customers to feel when they interact with your brand, what values are important to you, and what design styles and colours represent the mood you're aiming for.
Brainstorm potential business names and domain names, and research to ensure they're not already in use. Once you've landed on a name, secure it by setting up social profiles and registering the domain.
Designing a visual identity
To design a visual identity for your brand, you need to consider your logo, fonts, photography, and colour choices. A simple logo is versatile and can work on different platforms. Creating variations of your logo, such as a wordmark and an icon, can help it fit into different applications. Also, consider the context and meaning of recognisable symbols or objects used in your logo in different cultures. With some free tools and tips from professionals, you can DIY your visual brand.
Shooting product photos
Product photography is essential for ecommerce brands to increase buyer confidence and conversion. Two types of photos are important: product photos, which should show clear shots of the product on a plain background, and lifestyle photos, which show the product in context and inspire customers. Product photos are well-suited for product and collection pages, while lifestyle photos are useful for home pages, social media accounts, and digital lookbooks.
Designing product packaging
Designing effective product packaging is important for your brand's visual identity and customer experience. Your packaging should align with your brand's overall aesthetic and messaging, and provide a cohesive experience from online interactions to receiving orders. Consider elements such as colour, typography, and imagery to create a visually appealing and memorable package that represents your brand and product.
Build and launch your website
Congratulations on reaching the stage of building and launching your website! To get started, consider researching ecommerce website builders that align with your needs and budget. Be sure to assess factors such as available features, cost, and ease of use before making a decision. This will help ensure that your website is a success when you introduce it to the world.
Designing and building an ecommerce website
To build an ecommerce website, first choose a platform and upload your products and brand assets. Look for apps in the platform's app store to improve your store's functionality. Next, use design tools and templates to create a professional-looking website without needing design skills or coding.
Launching your business
Congratulations on reaching the soft launch phase of your business! This is a great opportunity to gather feedback and make any necessary tweaks before your official grand opening. Don't forget to stress test your website to ensure its reliability. Best of luck with your business!