For beginners you want to create a plan, not a traditional business plan but a plan to help keep you guided in your venture. A place to save your notes, goals and ideas. To make this article easy on the eyes I'll map out each step:
1. Purchase or grab a notepad
Here is where you will keep your ideas, goals, plans, and notes as you continue your ventures. The importance of keeping a notepad is to outline your process and save your thoughts. Basically, it's just like a journal with less emotion. You want to save your notes, and ideas because even if you don't get a chance to use them this time around you keep them close and use them when you go to do your next venture.
2. Make a list of products and niches that you would like to cover
This is when your notepad comes in handy. Make a list of 5 products that you would like to sell online. Next, make a list of 10 niches that these products possible cover. Two niches for each product is important because this will give you an idea of how versatile your product may be. This takes us to #3, probably the most important step of this process... can you guess what it is?
3. Research! Research! Research!
Most entrepreneurs pay companies and third parties to do this step for a hefty fee. However, this aspect of the process is not necessarily easy nor is it very hard, just time consuming. Although, not done right can prove to be very costly. Some resources to utilize for your research: Overture, Google, RightNow4You, Google U.S. Gov, Copernic, and others.. I can't give away all of my resources... Most of the tools here are free but there are some paid tools out there as well, but you might as well save on your overhead and use the free tools.
Research the best method to use in order to get your product to your customers, online store, ebay (www.ebay.com), Amazon (www.Amazon.com), mail order, ect. This is important because if you decide to go the online store route then it can tend to get expensive if you are unsure as to what you are doing. However, there are ways to develop an online shop while saving a significant amount of money and time, while making the site SEO friendly. There are other options as well, such as Shopify (www.Shopify.com), and a whole sleuth of other companies that offer e-commerce store fronts and so on.
4. Make Contact
Most people will do a search for "wholesaleing" or "Dropshipping," this is the 100% wrong way to search for your product of choice. In most cases you will come across a ton of MFA sites, competitors, Paid list company sites, and a ton of just random site that will waste your time. However, don't be discouraged, not everyone has it in them to contact the manufacturer right away. I have this down to a science, so 95% of the time I make contact with the CEO and or President by mistake but it builds rapport and gets me in the door. That is one reason why i do not mind offering my services to the public for a small fee, just contact me for a quote. If you would rather work with a team instead then I recommend that you contact this company MiCAH7, this is their forte along with a few other services, I suggest you check them out for assistance on your e-endeavors.
If contacting the manufacturer or distributor is not your cup of tea, there are companies with good reputations that you can go through such as Doba (www.Doba.com) (take advantage of their free trial, and Salehoo (www.salehoo.com), but these require paid memberships and for the most part offer free trials, so take advantage of the free trials.
Once you have made initial contact with the manufacturer or distributor, just know that there will be times when you will be told "No thanks," or "Maybe once you get established." Just know that this is normal and may require some finessing so get creative and think outside the box. Some manufacturers have distributors that they work with so even though they may tell you, "We don't offer any such program," don't be afraid to ask them about licensed distributors. Some manufacturers will put you in contact with a sales agent who will then (maybe) send you a price list, don't be fooled, in most cases the licensed distributor will have a better catalog with better discounts. Always be clear about what it is that you want and always be pleasant and persistent.
5. Form A Company
Just know that some manufacturers may take longer than most to get back to you about whether or not they are willing or want to work with you. Don't let this discourage you, if you have others on your list, move-on.
Once you get an answer and the manufacturer or distributor is willing to work with you, you will have to establish a business entity. If you are the only person then an LLC (Limited Liability Company) would be highly recommended instead of a Corporation, but always do your research because there are tax pros and cons and in some states it would be better to go the C-Corp route instead. If you plan on having employees, based on the size of your company a C-Corp may suffice instead of an LLC. Each entity has it's very own tax perks and faults. In some states if you are a single member LLC then you may be taxed as a Sole Proprietor. This is ok, don't be fooled with all of the jargon. For more information about forming a company i highly suggest that you visit a few of these sites: SCORE, IRS, and the SBA (Small Business Administration). Or if you wish to hire someone else to do it for you then you can try LegalZoom (Incorporations & LLC's)
Most manufacturers will not work with you unless you are a licensed business with a proper and good standing tax-id number.
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