The Ultimate Guide To StartingAnd Scaling An Ecommerce Business


So you want to make money by selling stuff on the internet. And we’re not talking about marketing someone else’s product or dropping a few affiliate links. No, we’re talking about building an entire virtual storefront—branded products, real live merchandise, lifelong customers — all with you in charge.

That’s ecommerce. Skip the brick and mortar. Forget having to deal with the huge upfront costs of physical retail. In a world dominated by giants like Amazon, the future of commerce lies in online sales.

But you don’t have to be Jeff Bezos to earn good money selling stuff on the web. Just ask Gretta van Riel.

In 2012, at 22 years old, she had $24 in her bank account. But she was ready to hustle, and that’s what she did, building a multimillion-dollar enterprise called SkinnyMe Tea that brought in $600,000 per month after only four months. She didn’t stop there, either. Gretta went on to launch business after business, creating The Fifth Watches, Drop Bottle, Nichify, and Hey, and funneling in millions of dollars.

Sure, not every story will play out exactly like Shannon’s. But she put in the work to learn from successful ecommerce stars like Gretta, and she put in the work to take action on that learning and actually start an ecommerce business.

This guide is our effort to condense those lessons into one easily navigable, step-by-step workbook, for anyone to fire up, at any time. You just need to show up with the elbow grease.

Is This Guide for You?

If you want to learn how to start an ecommerce business, or you already have one and want to up your game, you’re in the right place. We’ll talk about how to set up an ecommerce business, from pinpointing an idea to finding a manufacturer to growing your customer base. Throughout, we won’t just talk theory—you’ll get concrete tips on what to do to make it happen.

You’ll find this guide useful if…

You are starting an ecommerce business from scratch You already have an ecommerce company, but sales just aren’t where you need them to be You own your own ecommerce store but are having trouble scaling it up to size

Let’s Talk About Dropshipping

Before moving on, we should briefly touch on dropshipping, an ecommerce approach where you don’t store or handle physical products yourself. Instead, a third party stores and ships whatever it is you’re selling, leaving you to deal with only marketing and customer service.

This guide is for people who want to create, stock, and sell their own ecommerce products. Sometimes entrepreneurs dropship early on to test out a market, and you might experiment or start out with it. But for the most part, we recommend that you don’t dropship. Instead, try just stocking and sending things yourself.

Profit margins on dropshipping can be low, sometimes 10% or lower—not a good number for a small, young business. Plus, putting shipping in the hands of someone outside your brand, while having to worry about customer service, can be a recipe for disaster.

That said, if you’re interested in dropshipping and aren’t concerned about its disadvantages, you’ll still find a lot of valuable advice in this guide.

Over the years, Foundr has partnered with and interviewed some of the most innovative people in ecommerce, in all sorts of niches and using all sorts of strategies. Here, we’ve distilled their wisdom into actionable steps that you can take toward starting an ecommerce business.

  • Find a Hot Niche How you can find and come up with a guaranteed profitable idea for your product in a trending niche

  • Learn from the Best How this 23-year-old entrepreneur made $600,000 USD per month on her first business (after just 6 months)!

  • Build Your Brand How to build a multimillion dollar ecommerce brand from scratch

  • Sourcing & Manufacturing Learn how you actually produce the product at a cost-effective rate

  • Master The Golden Trifecta The 3 elements that ensure your ecommerce idea will be able to print you money


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