After you’ve completed this initial step, the next part of learning how to start an online boutique is developing a business plan.
At the very least, your business plan will serve as a roadmap for you where to buy clothes to start a boutique and you can launch your online boutique. Beyond your personal use, your business plan will also be essential if you decide to apply for funding down the line (more on that later).
To this point, you want your business plan to be as detailed as possible so that when it comes time to actually start selling items you’ll be ready to go. This being said, as you begin planning and writing your business plan, here are some components you’ll want to include:
- Executive summary and company overview: What is your business and what are you going to sell?
- Market analysis: What does your market look like? Who is your target audience? Who are your competitors? How are you going to approach the market and differentiate your business from others?
- Financial plan and projections: How are you going to earn money? What costs do you anticipate having when you’re first starting out? How will you obtain funding if you need it? What will your potential revenue look like as your business progresses?
How much does it cost to start an online boutique?
One of the most important elements of your business plan will be your financial projects, which means you’ll want to think about startup costs. You may be wondering, therefore, what costs look like for starting an online boutique.
Luckily, compared to brick-and-mortar boutiques or other types of businesses, the costs to start an online boutique will be much more manageable—and you’ll have a decent amount of control over where and how you spend your money.
This being said, it’s very likely that you can open an online boutique with a few hundred dollars. Although it will be difficult to start an online boutique with no money, you can make it very affordable.
With this in mind, here are some of the top costs you’ll need to consider:
- Website costs: These might include web hosting, a custom domain name, an ecommerce platform subscription, a merchant services provider, and anything else you need to get your online boutique website up and running.
- Inventory costs: Inventory will likely be the most important cost to consider—after all, you can’t have an online boutique without products to sell. Ultimately, these costs will vary based on the specific products you sell and suppliers you work with, but nevertheless, you’ll want to evaluate how much inventory you need carefully.
- Shipping costs: As an ecommerce business, shipping will be essential to your process. Therefore, early on in the process, you’ll want to start to think about different shipping options, providers, and potential costs.
- Marketing and promotion costs: Although there are a number of ways to promote your business for free when you’re starting out, you’ll want to at least consider what marketing and advertising costs will look like for your boutique as you get up and running.
Of course, if you’ve chosen an entity type that needs to be registered with the state, you’ll likely have registration costs, as well as possible licensing costs. As you might expect, however, these costs will vary based on the state and the specific registration or licenses your business needs.
Decide what to sell and find suppliers.
Next, you’ll want to need to answer a very important question: What do you want to sell?
Although most business owners looking to start an online boutique are planning to sell some sort of apparel, there are a variety of products you might choose to sell. You might start a simple online clothing boutique, or conversely, you might start an online boutique that sells custom dog collars.
Ultimately, in order to decide what type of products you’re going to sell, you’ll want to take time to think it through and perform the necessary research.
To this point, Lynn Thompson, author and the owner of the online boutique Old Maid Cat Lady, told us:
“One thing I’d advise people thinking about [starting an online boutique] is to do a lot of research on your idea first. Make sure there’s a market for what you’re doing. Are you fulfilling an actual need people have, or is that wishful thinking on your part?”
This being said, many business owners advise potential entrepreneurs to “find their niche.” You’ll have much greater success if you can fulfill an open need or outdo a competitor in some way.
Along these lines, as you decide what you want to sell, you’ll also want to determine where you’re going to get those products. If you determine that you want to sell eco-friendly running shorts, for example, but you can’t find a supplier who offers those products, you’re not going to have much luck opening your boutique.
Therefore, after you have a product idea, you’ll want to start searching and comparing suppliers. As we mentioned above, inventory will be one of the largest startup costs you have, so you’ll want to explore your options carefully. To cut down on costs, many online sellers choose direct product sourcing—working with manufacturers directly instead of third-party wholesalers.
Of course, you always have the option to create the products yourself, in that case, you’ll want to determine what supplies you need to do so, and where you can get everything you need to sustain creating the products for your boutique.Read more