Shopify Guide - How to start a business in 11 steps

There is something about business ownership here in New Zealand. It seems that it is everyone's dream to own their own business, to work for yourself and to own your own time.

What many people don't seem to realise is that owning a business is hard. It is stressful. Cashflow is uncertain. And you often end up working way more hours than you would if you were employed by someone else.

But it is also rewarding. Owning a successful business brings with it a big sense of accomplishment. And for the most organised of business owners, you will have some control over your time and how and when you spend it.

So how do you know if your business idea has legs, or if it is more of a hobby, or a side hustle you work on when and if you feel like it - while keeping your day job?

As always, Shopify has some really good resources to help you out. In short, this is the list they suggest you go through when starting your business, to determine what type of business, and lifestyle you want. We would argue that Step 2 is one of the most important ones, and one that many small business owners miss or do not invest enough time in. So either read the short summary below, or read the full article by clicking here.


How to start a business in 11 steps

1. Discover your big idea

It all begins with an idea. To narrow in on that idea, it’s important to know what kind of business and lifestyle you want to have. Are you looking to sell existing products as a low-lift side gig? Do you want to go all in on an invention that will change the world? Or is your social media audience the perfect place to launch your personal brand’s merch?

Next you’ll decide how to bring that new business idea to life: make, manufacture, or resell?

2. Research your product and audience

Your product or business idea may excite you, but it’s only worth pursuing if there’s an audience (a.k.a. future customers) looking for it.

There are many ways to do your research upfront before you start investing your hard earned money into it (yes, it costs quite a bit of money to start a business generally). You can look for gaps in the market, find an underserved audience, run a focus group, and investigate your competition. 

Your target audience or target market refers to a group of potential customers for your brand. This is the group you’ll eventually aim all your marketing efforts and dollars toward. As a result, it’s critical to define them as thoroughly as possible.
Need help defining your audience? Kaizen Kiwi runs a workshop that will help you with this. Read more about it here, and then Contact Us today to reserve your spot!

3. Calculate your startup costs

Once you’ve validated that there’s an audience hungry for your product and you’ve nailed your value proposition (if you need help with this, talk to us at Kaizen Kiwi today and we will help you get there. Contact Us here), it’s time to talk money. Your business will be viable if you have the funding to get it off the ground and you can identify a price that’ll turn a profit.

Write a business plan, calculate your startup costs, conduct a break-even analysis, determine your profit margins and finally, price your products.

Your startup costs in the first year will help you cover everything from setting up a website to buying inventory to running your first paid ads. Here’s what business owners reported as the breakdown of their spending in the first year:

Business Costs first year

4. Source products

By now, you’ve validated your product idea, your business plan is locked, and you’re ready to bring it to life. It’s time to get creative. Now it is time to decide if you are going to make, manufacture, or source your product as you get ready to start a business.

5. Figure out your shipping strategy

Shipping is often cited by small business owners as one of the most challenging aspects of getting started. Luckily, the tools aimed at simplifying this task keep getting better. Ecommerce platforms like Shopify consolidate rates to help you make informed shipping decisions. And app integrations can solve specific shipping issues or help you more easily manage inventory.

6. Develop a brand strategy and brand identity

Aside from a unique product or exemplary service, your brand is the driving force behind a customer’s decision to buy from you. Your brand is more than a business name or a logo. It is a guiding set of principles and design specifications that tell your story, create consistency, and build trust. A branding exercise will create the foundation upon which you make creative decisions for your brand as you grow.

Need help with this? Contact Us and we can put you in contact with some trusted branding experts.

This step also includes everything from shooting product photography to designing product packaging.

7. Build and launch your website

At this stage, you’ve secured a product and committed to your brand. Now, it’s time to assemble all that hard work into a website and introduce it to the world. There are several ecommerce website builders on the market and you will need to weigh the options based on factors like available features, website cost, and ease of use. 

Kaizen Kiwi builds and improves on websites on platforms such as Shopify, Wix and Squarespace, and we can help guide you to the right platform for you.

Have you already built a website and want someone to go through it and make sure the customer journey is optimal for conversion, that your functionality is all there and that you have the correct SEO set up? Book in a Website & SEO Audit with us today! Contact Us for pricing and availability.

8. Register your business

Depending on the countries or regions where you do business, you may be subject to a set of rules that govern how you manufacture, market, and ship your products. 

First, you’ll need to decide on a business structure. In some cases, you will need to officially register your business. Check with your local government agency to ensure you’re doing business above board.

This step is probably better executed earlier, than at Step 8 however..

9. Manage your money

The key to a successful business can usually boil down to finding the right product for the right market at the right time. But sustaining that success depends on many other things happening behind the scenes. When you have a good handle on your finances, you’re ensuring that you’re not overspending and that you have a safety net if your luck changes.

Your business plan (that handy document you created in Step 2) should also include a financial plan. If you’ve already completed this step, it’s time to put it into action. If not, now is definitely the time to get onto it. Finding a good accountant is the first step. We can recommend someone that is suitable for you, so get in touch today if you don't have one already.

10. Market your business

Marketing is reported as one of the most challenging aspects of running your own business—but it’s also the area where you will spend much of your time and budget. Launching a successful website requires ongoing campaigns to actively drive traffic to it and convert those visitors into buyers.

Along with your financial plan, your business plan should also include your overall marketing plan. A marketing plan is the strategy your business uses to get products in front of your target audience. It's a roadmap that helps you set goals and have a back-up plan. Get in touch with us today if you need help with this step.

11. Grow your business

By now, your small business should be a well-oiled machine. Your product photos are on point, you’re building online communities, you’ve nailed your fulfillment process, and you’re hopefully making regular sales.

Take a moment to celebrate your wins! If you’ve made it this far, you’ve successfully turned a kernel of an idea into a living, breathing small business. So what’s next? You may decide to stay small, dedicating yourself to building relationships with a loyal customer base and managing everything solo. Or, maybe you’re ready for the moon. 

If you want to continue to grow your business, read on here on everything from seeking additional funding to hiring and managing staff. 

And of course, if you need help with any of the steps above, contact us today!

Need Help? We offer a FREE 30-min discovery call to all prospective clients. We want to understand your unique circumstances and how we can service you best. Contact Us Today!