Drop shipping has recently become one of the most effective ways to launch a successful business online, while also needing a minimal amount of funds and investment to get started. With more people trying to make money for themselves and starting a business of their own, dropshipping is now more in demand than ever before.
Much like we’ve seen in the world of content creation and blogging, it’s quite easy to get started — but there seem to be only a select few who have mastered the process and gone on to make millions of dollars from their online stores. One of the many benefits of starting a business based around dropshipping, is that you don’t need to re-invent the wheel or come up with that next million dollar idea. Instead, you just need to pick the products you want to sell, go live with an online store, and start promoting your business.
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It sounds easy enough, but there is some time, work, and effort that will be involved. This is just the first of many factors that comes into play when looking at those who succeed, and those who fail to find success.
At the same time, we’ve also seen a massive influx of site owners, bloggers, content creators, affiliate marketers and brands all dive into this space as fast as possible. This also leads many top hosting and platform solutions to rethink the best business and marketing strategies. This is something CloudWays recently touched upon in their “Is Dropshipping Dead? Can You Still Earn Through It in 2019?”.
The obvious answer here is… NO. Dropshipping and ecommerce is in no way dead, it’s just a bit more saturated and competitive than it was in previous years.
The same can be said about affiliate marketing, and pretty much any other method for making money online. Hundreds of people have commented on this question through WarriorForum alone. Once word starts to spread about an effective way to make money online, everyone jumps in on it. However, most people aren’t willing to put in the time, work, and effort — so that is where real marketers and brands can have the edge.
To help with this process, today we are going to take a look at the world of dropshipping, what seems to work best, and how you can get started with your own dropshipping business — or being your existing one to that next level.
Dropshipping 101: What is dropshipping and how does it work?
The concept of dropshopping is quite simple and easy to understand. Oberlo, one of the worlds top dropshipping solutions, has created an excellent explainer video that shows not only how dropshipping works, but also why and how their platform makes it so easy and effective for anyone to start a business online.
This can also be summed up in three simple steps.
- Find Products to Sell
We offer thousands for products from trusted suppliers. You can easily import them into your Shopify store and start selling.
- Fulfill Orders Automatically
When you receive an order you can pay for it with a few clicks. The supplier ship orders directly to customers.
- Focus on Growth
With access to thousands of products and automatic fulfillment, you can focus on growing your sales.
In fact, dropshipping is quite similar to affiliate marketing — in the fact that you don’t need to hold inventory. However, one would need to market their store, connect with a dropshipper, and also process orders. In short, you are running an online store the same way any product-based business is, except that you don’t need to actually hold the product, ship it out, and have a massive upfront investment to spend on inventory.
To dive into the comparisons between ecommerce, dropshipping and affiliate marketing, we can also refer to this video from Greg Preece, which highlights not only the main advantages and disadvantages of each, but also which method is better for those looking to invest money over time, and also for those who are just starting out.
To learn more about the process, be sure to check out my dropshipping 101 reference guide.
How to find the right products to sell?
As with all business ideas and concepts, you need to know what you are going to sell. It doesn’t necessarily need to be something you are familiar with, but instead something you know how to market and get in front of the right audience.
You should also consider how saturated the market is, what your profit margins are going to look like, and how competitive and pricey it will be to start running paid ad campaigns to promote your online store.
Before even looking for the best products to sell, it’s important to remember what the purpose of drop shipping is, and while it’s an ideal business to have. AppeConnect does a great job at laying out the many different pros and cons of drop shipping, which also serves as a good reminder for site owners and brands as well.
It’s not just about having the right tools and platform to power your site, it’s also about making sure you have a solid profit margin on each item and not putting in tedious work and effort to just make a dollar or two on each sale. This is also why ecommerce sites are using dropshipping as their solution for product and shipment, and trying to avoid the whole inventory and warehouse issue in the process.
There are actually several tools out there that can help with this process:
- Google Trends allows you take a look at the interest in a product, service, or keyword over time
- Amazon and eBay will give you ideas, sales numbers, and customer reviews
Using these free tools and resources will make it easier for you to find a winning product to sell — which is quite important before launching your site. To also help with this process, I recommend you take a look at this article on how to find the right products to sell, which outlines the following key points.
Most good dropshipping products share similar attributes. When researching potential dropshipping products, keep in mind these five criteria:
- The product’s cost allows for a healthy markup.
- The product is intriguing, unique, or eye-catching.
- The product is difficult to find elsewhere online.
- Consumers find it difficult to guess how much it costs for you to buy the product.
- Consumers are happy to purchase the product without too much research.
Assuming you can walk through this process and find a few products you might be interested in selling, how can you then find the right supplier or dropshipper to start working with?
Where and How to Find Reliable Dropshippers
As someone who has had experience with dropshipping, this process is not only the most important — it can also be the most time-consuming.
I can’t stress this enough. If you are going to build a business of your own, where someone else is fulfilling the product, they need to always be on time, reliable, and trustworthy. Back when I ran my first dropshipping site, I actually acquired an online store and got the direct information for the dropshipper. Nowadays, it’s much easier to find dropshippers online, but finding a good one is like finding a needle in a haystack.
When it comes to actually finding products and going with a solution, there are plenty of sites and solutions to choose from. Some of the most popular are:
- Worldwide Brands
- Wholesale Central
- Dropship Direct
- Sunrise Wholesale
- National Dropshippers
Each of these have their own pros and cons, but it’s often preferred to find a dropshipping management platform or solution that can tie into all of these seamlessly.
Once such solution again is Oberlo, as they have not only created a platform and solution that makes it easy for people to start selling online, they’ve also simplified the process of finding a high-quality dropshipper as well. As the company continues to make big waves in the online business space, they’ve recently come out with their own list of “Oberlo verified” suppliers to work with.
In short, if you want to sell a product and need a reliable dropshipper, just go through their list. In fact, you can pretty much “just pick one, we checked them already“, as they say on their site.
However, this isn’t just a simple hand-selected and verified list, there is actually a whole lot more that goes into it. Take a look at how Oberlo Suppliers stacks up against the competition, and the many factors that go into this verified decision process.
With such data and verified information readily accessible, Oberlo has quickly eliminated one of the most time-consuming and frustrating components of starting an online business.
Best Ways to Effectively Promote Your Online Store
As mentioned earlier, it’s quite easy to go live with a website, blog, or even an online store of your own. The real work and challenge is promoting your content and generating sales.
This will all come down to how you effectively promote your online store, optimize your ad campaigns, and learn to correctly price your product for the best conversions and margins possible.
Some of the best working methods for promoting your dropshipping store are:
- Using Coupons – Everyone loves to save money online. Start offering coupons through your site and not only will you see increased sales, you will also likely see free promotion and traffic coming from various coupon sites and forums as well.
- Affiliate Program – Increase sales and traffic to your site by going live with your own affiliate program. Best of all, you only need to pay out money when new sales come in!
- SEO and PPC Marketing – Online stores will always do greats with organic search rankings and using PPC to get high-quality customers to their site. Each method has their own advantages, but as a store owner, it’s up to you to see where your time and money is best spent.
- Social Media and Remarketing – With more than three-billion users on social media, how can you not take advantage of it? A great way to get started is to place a tracking pixel on your site, then delivering remarketing ads to visitors that didn’t convert on their first visit. Facebook Ads is super easy to set up for this.
- Building a Mailing List – A mailing list is one of the best ways to increase sales and grow your business at scale. Always try to collect the email address of users on your site. Offering a 10% coupon is a great way to get users to submit their email, while also possibly increasing the chance for a sale as well.
If you are still sitting on the sidelines and have always wanted to start an online business of your own, right now is the best time to get started.
Just like we’ve seen how WordPress has made the process of building a website or blog so fast and easy, we are seeing that same transformation taking place in the world of online stores as well. There are little-to-no technical or design skills needed to get started. All it takes is the willingness to put in the time, work, and effort… then follow all of the steps laid out for you above.
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Best Gmail Alternatives for Business Use in 2019
Email is one of the most important aspects of all business in the world today — if not the most important. It’s also the one thing that hasn’t drastically changed over the past two decades. Unlike search, mobile, social media, and online advertising, the core purpose and business of email marketing is pretty much the same.
However, what has changed is the different ways we connect and use email in our daily lives. Looking back, many of us probably had AOL, Hotmail, and Yahoo emails in the previous years. Now all the buzz is around Gmail and other advanced email platforms that not only allow you to better manage your incoming and outgoing emails, but also to better manage your time and productivity as well.
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With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best Gmail alternatives for business use in 2019.
When running any type of business or dealing with important client information, your email is extremely important. Not just for data, but also for daily productivity, growth, and scheduling as well. This is where Groove stands out from the crowd, as their platform actually can improve productivity through canned responses, workflows, and integration with over 25 different platforms (like Trello, Olark, Shopify and more).
It’s also important to note that the platform is ideal for businesses and brands that want to offer collaboration with different teams member in office, or around the world. It’s also ideal for connecting customers to support and tracking teams as well.
It’s also important to note that the platform is ideal for businesses and brands that want to offer collaboration with different team members in office, or around the world, even on mobile. By using Groove, businesses can connect customers to support teams, tracki team members’ performance, and produce advanced reports that help business owners focus on what matters in order to scale.
At the beginning of this article, we referenced old school email addresses like AOL and Yahoo. For AOL especially, you would need to have the software installed on your computer in order to login. The same was true with Microsoft Outlook — but of course, times have now changed and so has the way they allow users to access and send emails.
With more than 400 million users on their email platform, Microsoft it looking to make email usage better for everyone using their Outlook platform. Benefits and features include free Outlook email and calendar. Along with access to everything you need to be your most productive and connected self – at home, on the go, and everywhere in between.
While many of us use Apple products and mobile devices on a daily basis, not many of us are using the email platform that Apple offers to their users. Apple’s iCloud Mail gives each user up to 5GN of free storage space and uploading limited of 20 BM for individual files.
The good news about iCloud Mail, is that you won’t need to create a new email address or be forced into using theirs if you want to create an account — simply sign up using your existing email address and you are ready to go.
Zoho Workplace is another popular integrated suite of tools that a lot of businesses are using to improve many aspects of the business. If you are already familiar with the many tools offered from Google (like Gmail, Sheets, Docs, etc), then you will likely enjoy your experience with Zoho as well.
The main benefit to using Zoho Mail over Gmail, is that you will have a better layer of security and won’t have BIG G watching over your shoulder on everything you do. This is especially true with ad placements, as premium accounts on Zoho won’t see any advertisements.
With Zoho Mail you can set up email with your own domain name address, have full access to the control panel for customization, and of course have full access through mobile devices and applications. All of this is available for just $1 per month for 5 GB of space per user, or you can upgrade to the premium version with 30 GB for just $4 per month.
If you were to randomly visit the domain name mail.com, you likely wouldn’t be surprised when you found out it was yet another free email service.
For anyone that wants to stay away from the bigger players in this space, and set up a quite and unique email of their own, mail.com is a great place to get started. What’s unique about this email platform, is that they have secured a wide range of domains that they allow users to register a new email with. A few of the top ones are @mail.com, @email.com, and @usa.com.
The platform is free to use and offers users the ability to choose from over 200 different domain names, getting access to free and customized apps, having the ability to send attachments up to 50 MB in size, and also allowing users to create up to 10 different alias addresses.
It’s Your Email. Make It How You Want It!
For something as important as your email, you need to make sure you are not only comfortable with the platform you are using, but also with it’s advanced settings and features as well.
It’s also a good idea to upgrade to the premium plan with many of these email providers, as the costs are minimal and the benefits are quite large. For example, every business, brand, and entrepreneur should have an email address with their unique domain name in it, and it’s also a nice benefit to have all advertising remove from your inbox as well.
No matter if you are currently using Gmail, or simply looking for a new look and feel for your email — be sure to check out each of the alternatives above.
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What Every SMBs Need to Know About Debt and Growing their Business
Starting a business in the world might seem easy, thanks to the power of the internet, automation, and lowered costs — but that isn’t to say it’s easy to find success and profitability with that same business. With more businesses starting daily, this leads to a larger increase in competition, and a great number of SMBs who aren’t potentially ready for the fierce competition, compiling costs, and debt that might be right around the corner.
While most aspiring small business owners would love to launch a passion venture and not worry about how to pay for it, this is not the reality. According to the Small Business Administration, there are 27.9 million small businesses in the United States compared to 18,500 firms with over 500 employees. Those small businesses took out a combined $600 billion in business loans in 2015, and another $593 million from alternative means like finance companies and peer-to-peer lending platforms.
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At the same time, it’s also important to take a look at the number of startups and closures, and survival rates for businesses in the world today.
But despite the various loan options that exist, securing enough of the right debt is challenging. Yet, as the old adage says, ‘you need to spend money to make money,’ and without borrowing, it’s difficult for any business to grow their operation.
To ensure your business borrows for long-term success without jeopardizing long-term cash flow, here are six things to know about debt.
Good Debt vs. Bad Debt
Generally speaking, good debt refers to debt that can yield long-term income or growth in value whereas bad debt will not. For consumers, good debt might be a mortgage where bad debt would be a revolving credit card balance. In the business landscape, it’s a little more nuanced and dependent on the specific company. You can learn more about the differences between these two here.
An example of good debt might be a company taking on debt to invest in certain employee programs, as the implementation of the program could lead to improved morale and better retention. It could also be debt used to do research and development for a new product since a new product line would generate more future income. A bad-debt scenario could be the result of a business taking out a loan for a larger business space that they don’t end up filling or using adequately. Or a double whammy: paying for nice office space in a prime location when clients never see the office.
These situations can go on and on, and really hinge on the execution that does or does not take place after a loan is taken.
Healthy Debt-to-Income Ratios
Every business—even two competitors—have differences that affect what a healthy debt-to-income (DIY) ratio should be. Businesses might need different levels of debt depending on a multitude of factors.
So, while not a hard-and-fast guideline, generally speaking, businesses with DTIs under 1 have more stable debt levels while a ratio above 1 indicates that a company is more reliant on their debt. Calculate your business’ DTI at any time by taking your monthly recurring debt payments and dividing it by your monthly gross income.
You Have More Leeway with Creditors Than You Think
Many business owners and individual debtors never try to improve on their existing terms or ask their creditors for any kind of compromise, even if it means falling behind on loan payments. But at the end of the day, banks want to see you succeed, if for no other reason than it means they’re getting their money back. If you’re proactive about needing aspects of your loan modified before you encounter difficulty paying it, you’ll stand a much better chance of striking an agreement.
It’s important to remember that creditor negotiations are a case-by-case basis. Whether you’re trying to lower your interest rate, get a one-time payment grace period, or extend the repayment cycle, communicate how changing the loan will impact your business positively.
You Can Consolidate Your Debts
Even if you’re keeping pace with your loans, juggling too many of them can be taxing, not to mention increase the chances you miss a payment date or don’t have the cash flow you need at a certain time of month. Debt consolidation loans condense your monthly payments, due dates, and potentially, can net you a lower overall interest rate.
To learn more about this, also see my article on line of credit vs taking out loans.
Small business owners can attempt debt consolidation by taking out a private loan (though, a high credit score will be needed for favorable interest rates), opening a balance transfer card with interest-friendly (possibly free) introductory period, or seeking assistance through companies like Andrew Housser’s Consolidation Plus, part of the Freedom Financial Network.
Layoffs Are Always a Consequence
Small businesses are like tight-knit families. Limited bandwidth and resources mean that employees develop a sense of pride and camaraderie in working together (at least, when a business does well). And unlike a large company where turnover is rampant, employees tend to work for small businesses much longer.
Of the 5.6 million employer firms in the United States in 2016, organizations with fewer than 100 workers accounted for over 98 percent of the workforce. When small businesses take on debt to scale the operation, they need to understand that they’ll need to cut costs if the investment doesn’t pay off. Layoffs are a realistic consequence. And when a SMB starts laying people off, company morale will take a dive and could lead to lost productivity and even further turnover.
According to data from the Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, there were 5.6 million employer firms in the United States in 2016.
- Firms with fewer than 500 workers accounted for 99.7 percent of those businesses.
- Firms with fewer than 100 workers accounted for 98.2 percent.
- Firms with fewer than 20 workers made up 89.0 percent.
This also isn’t just limited to small and medium sized businesses. Statista just recently had a report on big name companies like Tesla, eBay, Paypal, and more — all of which are leaving their employees hanging on whether or not they might have a long term relationship with the company.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Is a Last Resort
The thought of your hopes and dreams culminating in a bankruptcy court proceeding is certainly disheartening. However, chapter 11 becomes a viable strategy for business owners whose personal possessions are entwined in their business as it aims to restructure business debts to make repayments more manageable going forward without it sinking their business.
Just because taking debt is a necessary evil the majority of small businesses must face doesn’t mean it should be done so lightly. Leave no stone unturned in your search for a small business loan and consider these things above as you do so.
The Best Ways to Approach Debt Loss and Management for Your Company
No matter what position you might find your business in today, it’s important to realize that the first step in cleaning up an potential messes, is to ask for help.
This can be from people within your company, outside advisors, and of course — financial and legal institutions.
To learn more about managing company funds and debt, be sure to check out my other resource guide on paying off company debt.
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5 Effective Methods to Goal Setting for Business Growth and Success
Have you made resolutions to get your business to the next level?
Are your goals SMART enough?
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Are they inspiring your employees to take action?
Goals are the observable results of achievement. Goal setting is the process of deciding what you want to achieve, identifying the required resources, and developing an action plan.
If you have yet to set your business goals, consider the benefits of goal setting below.
Five Top Benefits of Goal Setting
As an entrepreneur or business owner, you shouldn’t ignore the importance of goals setting to your business. Goals are important in providing direction and focus to grow of your business.
This is especially true for anyone who might be working from home or stuck in a cubicle all day. When you are working on your own and not told exactly what to do, you need to be setting your own goals and the determination to get things done.
Whether it’s writing down such goals on a piece of paper and then checking them off, or using a mobile or online application, it’s all about getting your actions into motion to simply get more done.
Other benefits and methods to accomplishing this include:
1. Inspire and Sustain Progress
The importance of goals setting lies in the ability of goals to inspire and sustain focus. When your business sets SMART goals, your employees know what to do and they can gauge their performance.
As they achieve the smaller steps, they grow in confidence to work towards achieving bigger results. This results in the constant growth of your business. Your employees will grow in their skills and get motivated to keep improving as they see results.
2. Using Video to Increase Productivity
With so many different productivity tools and applications on the market today, it’s important to know where your strengths lie when trying to increase productivity or motivating others.
Through the use of an online creation tool like mysimpleshow, the ability is there to create interactive and engaging whiteboard animation videos to better portray your message.
You can see a clear example of this in the video example below.
At the same time, there are many personal benefits for creating your own whiteboard video to accomplish more and hit your goals.
As mentioned on the simpleshow website, creating such animation and explainer videos aren’t just for marketing and teaching others, they are also great for inspiration, mind-mapping, and hitting your own goals as well. In addition to goal setting, they’ve also seen massive engagement improvement with school students and professionals when delivering information in an audio and visual platform.
Their site went on to say, “Our illustration-style simpleshow explainer videos are most effective if you”:
- need to tackle complex tasks
- want to explain difficult topics in a simple and digestible way
- have to explain almost inexplicable information
Before taking on your next big project, be sure to consider your options with laying everything out in video form, and them working your way through it and sharing it with team members along the way.
3. Increase Productivity and Profitability
When setting goals for your business, you’re aiming at getting more work done and increasing your earnings. Setting goals defines what exactly you want to achieve, and how you’ll get there.
The process also includes identifying the needed resources, skills, and competencies. With this knowledge, you can train your employees or hire skills, which keep your business on track for consistent growth.
Setting goals also improves the decision-making abilities of the organization. The information you collect during the goal-setting process helps you identify where the business is at and chart out a path for the future. Informed decisions will eventually result in business growth.
4. Measure Progress
Your business can’t ignore the importance of goals in measuring progress. Good goals are measurable both in the time it takes to achieve them and the results achieved.
Monitoring is a crucial part of goals setting through which your business measures how far it is at achieving its goals.
Here, the business identifies areas for improvement as well as weaknesses. This way, your business can adjust accordingly to fit into the changing economic times, and you can set bigger goals if you have achieved the previous ones.
This same task can also be accomplished by using the Seinfeld Strategy as well.
To measure progress in your achievement of goals, you need to build a monitoring system such as recording the progress of a task.
5. Collaboration Among Employees
Your employees will work together more when they have a common goal. They can share resources, expertise, and insights. Eventually, your business grows from the harmonious working of the employees.
Goal setting should be a regular practice for your business. You can learn more about how goal setting can improve your business’ performance on this blog.
Six tips that were laid out in this article for improving productivity and collaboration with other employees are:
- Stretch your outlook.
- Know the key steps of the goal-setting process.
- Create a nimble goal development team.
- Gain buy-in.
- Communicate, communicate, then communicate some more.
- Remember to celebrate achievements.
Grow Your Business In 2019
Goal setting builds the foundation of your business, which employees refer to for inspiration and direction. The above benefits of goal setting should provide you with enough reasons to set goals for your business.
However, the most important task in this whole process is making sure you have a goal in place and are taking action to achieve it.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you might have. I’d love to hear from you and see how we can start working together.
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