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How To Bootstrap Your eCommerce Businesses

How Kidsology started

Justin van Heerden is the founder of Kidsology and gives us some handy pointers on how to bootstrap an eCommerce business based on the first-hand experience. Building a tech company has been synonymous with funding, venture capital, angel investors and massive burn rates making it seem unachievable for many budding entrepreneurs. Justin explores the road less travelled in eCommerce by bootstrapping his business and put together tips for you to do the same

Look to set yourself apart

From day 1 we have stuck by our goal to always bring that little bit of magic to our clients with every purchase and this is something we feel very strongly about. Here are a few things we believe set us apart from competitors

  1. Access to information needs to be easy if a client can’t easily find what they are looking for on your site they will go somewhere else;
  2. We are constantly searching for new products that we can bring to the market
  3. Client interaction is everything for an online store, the people running the store almost never get to meet the clients, there is no longer that personal interaction, at Kidsology we strive to engage with our clients as if they were walking into a physical store, we do this by responding to every request as quickly as possible and keeping clients updated throughout the journey of their parcel.
  4. We aim to deliver a little bit of magic with every purchase, the excitement in a kid’s eyes when they get the gift they have been asking for ages, that is the reason we got into the game. Knowing where you are going

A basic business plan for a start-up

A business plan is key to understanding where you want your business to go by setting out key milestones to focus on to steer your business to the end goal. Things will never run smoothly, but 2 things can happen when things go pear-shaped:

  1. Throw in the towel and give it up as a failed attempt; or
  2. You can revert to your business plan, revisit your goals and strategies and put new roads in place, the great thing about a business plan is it is a guideline for your business, not a rulebook and guidelines can be changed.

As a lean startup (starting a business with very little or no funding) we learned to bootstrap our way to the point where we could start turning a profit and growing organically. Starting your own business is a lonely road, yes you will get the support from friends and family, which is needed trust me but the support a green entrepreneur needs is someone to bounce ideas off someone to speak to that has faced or is facing the same stumbling blocks.

You cannot do it alone, partner with someone that has the skills you are lacking, join SMME Forums to speak to other start up and/or young individuals and attend workshops and expos focused on small business’ these are also a great way to get your name out.

Bits of advice

As a start-up, these bits of advice are what helped Kidsology grow and are still the main points when planning the future growth of the business.

  1. Marketing is everything, do you think Coca-Cola would be as big as it is today without marketing? Marketing also does not need to be expensive, in the first few months Kidsology grew its business through targeted paid Facebook marketing ads, and this is still part of our strategy today. There are many ways to get your name out there without breaking the bank.
  2. Try and steer clear of borrowing money, a mistake many startups make is borrowing money from banks, the problem with this is that these often come with high-interest rates over long periods, soon you will realise that you are working to pay off debt. Starting lean and growing organically may take longer but at the end of the day, the benefits are worth it.
  3. No one goes into business without the aim of making money, so ensure that you are making a profit with every sale, but be careful not to let money become the driving force behind your business, remember without clients there will not be any profits.
  4. Have fun with it, it’s your business and your chance to show the world that little bit of yourself through your brand.
  5. Learn from the others, chances are that your idea is not necessarily new but learn from your competitors what made them succeed, adapt it to fit your store and make it your own.

Who is Kidsology?

Kidsology is a lean start-up e-Commerce store that started off with the goal of becoming an online toy store but quickly learned that there was a lot more to it than registering a business and getting a site built… also being just another online toy store would not set us apart from everyone else, we needed that little bit extra, that little bit of magic.

Kidsology started as an online toy store but quickly grew into an online e-Commerce store focusing on supplying high-quality S.T.E.M toys to the South African Market to get kids actively involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (S.T.E.M) through the one thing that all kids love to do…. Play!

There are plenty of other online toy stores for kids but at Kidsology our driving force is to source products both from local and international suppliers that challenge kids without boring them, it seems that currently in South Africa the available “educational” toys are plain, basic and downright boring!

About the Author

Justin van Heerden is the founder of Kidsology, with a strong sales and project management background, has got his sights set on growing Kidsology to be one of the large e-commerce kids stores within the next few years through new innovative business ideas currently in the pipeline.

Visit Kidsology

Tags: eCommerce, guest post

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