As a lot of my close friends know, I left my full time job in July and started working on a website providing children books subscription. At that time, I went into it knowing that it wouldn’t be wildly profitable. However, it was my childhood dream to own a bookstore so I plunged into it. I had time in between jobsearch anyway.
In those 3 months, I experienced what it was like to be self-employed and finally understood why salaried employees can never understand what entrepreneurs are thinking. It is wildly fascinating yet scary at times. The fascinating part is that all those things that we studied in our business management courses came alive and every decision you make, you make it for yourself and bear the consequences yourself. The business moves as fast as you want it to be and there’s no such thing as having to wait to clear bosses. As described to an ex-colleague, while designing the website, I was obsessed with making every circle the same size as the others and every square in line with the others, which was what I had to do in my last job doing risk reporting. However, I was perfectly happy doing it this time round, because I had a purpose for doing it: to create a good browsing experience. The scary part is that finances get a little stressful at times. Setting up a business is about capital outlay, and you really don’t know if you will make the money back.
And just when I was about to launch, a job offer came in. It is a paycut, but it was what I wanted to do. I started worrying about the shop and whether to launch, but it felt like a waste of my efforts if I don’t. So I still did. So when I start work, the whole thing will become a family business and logistics will be handled by my family. I don’t know how long we will last but for now, I’m happy that my childhood dream came true. My dream for the shop is to provide books and educational materials for young children at reasonable prices, so that Baby E and her generation can grow up learned, regardless of income levels of their parents. The mode of delivery for now is to curate books once a month to put in the store, and consolidate orders for the store so that we can achieve lower prices for all. There is a yearly review for it, so when it’s time to pay “rent” (hosting fees), we’ll decide whether to continue or shut it down. It’s all fluid now because we don’t know what lies ahead.
But meanwhile, it felt good to have set up something like that when I’ve been a salaried worker all my life. This is probably information that people would set up a seminar and charge fees for, but I wanted to share this information with my friends who want to become entrepreneurs too: how to go about setting up a shop online. And the following is a general outline of how to go about doing it.
- Register with ACRA – There is a small number of businesses that are exempted. So check their website.
- Decide on the platform you want to be on – The easy way out is of course to use platforms like Lazada, Qoo10, Shopee etc, but you will then depend on them for advertising and if they shut down one day, your business is gone. If you want to set up a website, decide on domain, webhost etc.
- Set up your website, company email etc. Commoners like me who do not know how to code usually opt for website builders and an ecommerce store plugin. And a business email from Google… there are cheaper alternatives though. A business email from Namecheap costs less than USD1 a month.
- Seek suppliers and sort out logistics like packaging in the mean time.
- Then decide on how you are going to market your business
Lots to share but hard to put everything in a blog post so friends who would like to set something up, give me a ping and I’m happy to help! After all, YOLO.
Oh yes, almost forgot. My dream book store is located at www.thecuriouslearner.org. There is a giveaway happening now to celebrate its launch. No purchases required to take part! We’re still debating whether to make the titles from past months available in future months (but logistically it seems difficult) but for now titles are only available in the month they’re curated for. Let us know your thoughts about this issue!