Entrepreneur gives tips on setting up online business

Thursday, April 12, 2018

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MANY traditional jobs are unable to finance the dreams of millennials who want to own things like a car and home, or simply be able to vacation in style.

This has prompted some of them to get creative in order to earn extra cash. The trend has been towards starting online businesses, because they allow flexibility while working a nine-to-five job. Online businesses also give access to a global market.

Some people might think getting started is difficult, but according to small business owner Andrew Aldridge, it is simpler to set up than many perceive.

Aldridge, who owns Timezone Entertainment, runs his business online. The first step, he says, is to find a unique product and do the research.

“Ask yourself the following questions: Is the product in demand? What are the production costs? Is it profitable? Are the raw materials affordable?” he posited.

When these questions are answered, he proposes that individuals do a small survey and ask people for feedback on the item. After the research, Aldridge suggests that the next step is focusing on narrowing down the target group.

“From the inception of it, I had to figure out what my target audience would be. In terms of the clothes, I considered the age group. Like, am I mainly targeting teens or am I targeting older persons. Everyone has a different taste. Something that a 16-year-old would wear, a 55-year-old would not. I had to take all of these into consideration. At the same time, I had to make sure that it's cost-effective,” he tells the Jamaica Observer.

At this stage, he recommends that individuals ask themselves if the product would make them money and how would they get the word out to their target audience.

“I started out on platforms that I did not have to pay, so you have to always seek the cheaper way to get the message out to people. I incorporated Instagram because all of us, at some point, are on one social media. It can be Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or even WhatsApp.

“I look at how could I utilise these tools to get my message out there. So, therefore, creating WhatsApp groups that I could post in,” he explains.

In using social media to promote products, he advises that individuals post photos of them using or wearing the item, just as how they would a brand-name product.

Instagram has tools that you can pay to promote your products. It's much cheaper than if you were to go mainstream, like pay a television station or even put it in the newspaper. I think it would be more cost-effective. You can be sure that your content would reach at least 10,000 people,” Aldridge said, adding that a person can pay as little as US$5 to promote a post for three days on social media.

Sales will be slow, initially, but will increase with time, he says.

As sales increase and monies are coming in, Aldridge emphasises that individuals must use these profits to reinvest in their business. The best place to start would be to have a photographer do a photo shoot, instead of using the smartphone to take pictures.

From there he suggests that people focus on registering their business with the relevant entities, such as Companies Office of Jamaica, Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) and the Small Business Association of Jamaica.

“These associations can also guide you in setting up your business,” he says.

Aldridge says that the copyright process with JIPO can be costly for some, however, he says the payments can be done in instalments. Business owners can also opt to do a poor man's copyright until they have the finances to do it officially.

— Falon Folkes

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