When Jennifer Teschendorf had her son, she wanted to work from her Darien, Ga., home. After some research, she decided to launch eBabyConsignment.com, which specializes in reselling baby products, in part because it required only a few thousand dollars to start and could be managed around her family time.
For many like Jennifer, e-retailing is an attractive business option. But just like a brick and mortar store, it can become a money pit.
Here's how to get started without losing your shirt:
Looks Are Important
Secure a domain name that best captures your business plan but make it short and memorable, recommends Joel Elad, author of several books on Internet businesses, including Do-It-Yourself Web Stores For Dummies (Wiley). Once that's done, you can set up the Web site in a couple of different ways: hire a Web-development company or turn to a store-front provider like Yahoo! Small Business(YHOO) or eBay's(EBAY) ProStores. A Web designer will customize your site and make it stand out from the competition, but can cost about $5,000. And, as Teschendorf discovered, you should have a clear idea of how you want your site to function or the bill can be as high as $10,000, since these companies charge by the function.Yahoo! Small Business, meanwhile, will get you up and running for as little as $39.95 a month, but your Web site may be cookie-cutter. Zachary Smith, president of Web hosting company Voxel.net, recommends starting out with a storefront provider and then keeping a Web designing company on retainer (about $100 a month) for some customization and updating. Just don't load up on a lot of Flash bells and whistles. A site that takes too long to open up or navigate will be a major turn off.