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8 Replies Latest reply: Nov 20, 2008 5:29 PM by intechspecial RSS

Young Entrepreneur Seeking Advice

ryandinho Newbie
Currently Being Moderated
Hello All,

I am a new member seeking advice on starting an online retail store, more specifically an online fashion boutique. I am about to graduate college in a few months and am strongly considering establishing my own business. Being a business school student has taught me that I will need certain things to be successful, mainly a sound business plan, financial forsight and management practices. From what I have gathered from online sources as well as a few personal references, online stores are definately not as costly as brick and mortar but often times requires just as much work. I have 3 questions that I would love to hear any advice on from some that have been down this road or have experience in a related business.

1. Being that I am a college student with no significant collateral or credit history to draw from, how and where should I seek to aquire investments for start up?

 

2. I intend to sell men's causal wear that is teetering on high fashion and vintage wear. What are the best ways aquire this type of inventory?

 

3. Initial Start-up cost estimates

 

If there is any advice you guys could give me, I would be greatly appreciative.
  • Re: Young Entrepreneur Seeking Advice
    ContractAcct Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated
    First off I would recommend getting a good business plan in order. Without a plan no-one will take you seriously and no one will invest in or help your business. If you are an ofice user, you can download a emplate "business Plan for Startup Business" that will basically walk you through the entire process - all for free. It takes a while to fully develop your plan and once done you will continually tweak that plan as you try to get financing, backing, etc.

    You also need to network, network, network with people you can help, people who can help you, and potential customers. You ned to build your relationships now, before you actually need them...

    But you need to go these first steps before you do anything else...

    Let me know when you are done, maybe I can help you with the next step as well...
    • Re: Young Entrepreneur Seeking Advice
      mikanui Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated
      I have to agree with the above. No plan, no action.

      Network network network is an understatement if aything. If you do't have relationships before you get going, you are setting yourself up for a LOT of headaches in the future.

      Line up your ducks before you start shooting or you won't have anything to shoot for.

      As far as supplies are conerned, even Bernini orders it's suits from a Manufacturer...they buy in bulk to be able to get the price consideration they get. You will most likely be paying a bit higher at first, but when you get things going, your volume will get you the discounts you need to increase your profit margin. This of course will need to gointo your Business plan so investors can see what you intend to do to get your company moving sooner than later. Hope taht helps. (Oh, and finding suppliers is a matter of finding someone in school that knows how to "Search" online and have them help you find the right ones.)
  • Re: Young Entrepreneur Seeking Advice
    Expert
    Currently Being Moderated
    Hi,

    I'll offer my answer to you on your 3 questions and then follow with some important advice that I'm sure you are aware of but that needs to be emphasized.

    First your questions:

    1) Without credit or collateral to get debt based funding ( a loan) , the only avenue you may have is to try to raise capital by selling equity. The only way you have a shot at attracting investors is to have a solid business plan and compelling opportunity. Once you have your plan pulled together please feel free to contact me and I can give you some further guidance on how (the right way) to perform your search for investors.

    2) A retail clothing business is pretty tough to start up and survive. You have a lot of competition that is usually larger, with more marketing muscle and far better capitalized so unless you have some very well-defined niche that you have some sort of edge or competitive advantage in ... then you might want to re-think the type of business you want to start. What you mentioned may have great appeal to you but if you can't sell your products (profitably), or find niche products to sell that aren't already available to your market, then you will not survive in business. To find inventory for a niche like high-fashion or vintage wear you may want to get into a routine of checking estate sales or even yard sales for clothing that falls into those categories ... or even run an inexpensive ad that you "buy" clothing items of that type. There are probably other ways as well if you talk to people and give this further thought or investigation.

    3) Look at existing, similar businesses. If you are planning a retail clothing store, for example, spend some time looking at existing retail store businesses. Park across the street and count the customers that go into the store. Note how long they stay inside, and how many come out with bags that look like purchases. Browse the store and look at prices. Look at several stores, including the discount stores and department stores. Find a similar business far enough away that you won't compete. For the retail store example, you would identify stores in similar towns in other states. Call the owner, explain your purpose truthfully, and ask about the business. Scan local newspapers for people selling a similar business. Contact the broker and ask for as much information as possible. If you are thinking of creating a retail clothing store and you find one for sale, you should consider yourself a prospective buyer. Maybe buying the existing store is the best thing. Even if you don't buy, the information you gain will be very valuable. Why is the owner selling? Is there something wrong with the business? You can probably get detailed financial information. If you are planning an online business, websites and hosting are relatively inexpensive these days. You can probably get one set up and hosted for several hundred dollars. An online business model is probably a better way to go to test your market. Much better to see if you can sell your product that way before you go to the expense of a bricks and mortar retail store.

     

    They are not definitive, but I hope you find the above useful in answering your questions. Now if you have not done it yet the best starting point for you is to get what you want to do down on paper. Developing your business plan helps you to make your dream a reality; but only if you work at it to do the things necessary to reach your goal. A good business plan is something that funding sources and/or prospective investors are going to want to see so that should be your priority at this point. In general, at their simplest, Business Plans should consist of the following:

     

    • Executive Summary
    • Market Opportunity
    • Vision, Mission, & Objectives
    • Management
    • Business Strategy
    • Competition
    • Risk
    • Financial Plan/Capital Requirements
    • Summary

     

    How complex and comprehensive your plan should be depends on what you plan to use it for. This generally falls into 3 categories:

     


    1. Internal Planning (to form the business)

     

    2. Internal Planning and presentation to close contacts that might want to invest in the business.

     

    3. Internal Planning, close contacts presentation and presentation to experienced investors and/or sources of funding for the business.

     


    Business plans can range from 10 pages to 50+. Simpler business plans (really more of an extended Executive Summary) are usually 10 pages or so and would primarily be used for internal planning purposes. These type plans are less complex. Plans for presentation to personal funding sources or investor-ready business plans designed for professional investor presentation are longer and much more comprehensive (they have to be to cover all of the aspects of your business that an investor or funding source is going to want to know about).

     


    There are a number of resources you can find online (some free, some not) that can help you with your business plan. Just enter "help with business plan" or "business plan" in any search engine and you will find many sources to check out. One site that you might find useful is: http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/index.html

     


    Also, you can search within this online community for "business plan" "start-up" etc. and find many postings, some from experienced business professionals, that might be useful to you as well.

     


    I hope the above helps; good luck with your business plans.

     

    Dennis Lowery
    Adducent, Inc.
  • Re: Young Entrepreneur Seeking Advice
    LUCKIEST Master
    Currently Being Moderated
    Young Entrepreneur Seeking Advice, Welcome

    You have received some great answers and good advice. Go to Members page and share some additional info. We all agree that a Business Plan is most important. It should also include "Marketing".

    Another suggestion is SCORE. SCORE is FREE and can help you with your plans both in person and online. I would like to talk with you. You can email me at pdeig@juno.com

    Good luck, LUCKIEST
  • Re: Young Entrepreneur Seeking Advice
    Jona_than Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated
    If you are starting a new on-line business go to Psi Prime at 973-413-8210. They have designed a lot of on-line retail stores and they can help. Call them.
  • Re: Young Entrepreneur Seeking Advice
    intechspecial Master
    Currently Being Moderated
    A great place to get advice is either through your local SCORE or US Small Business Administration office.

    They offer advice free of charge, and chances are their is an office close to you.

    I have utilized the SBA, and have found the advice they offer to be great, as well as the support.

    SCORE seems to be much more direct and to the point, but has some good resources as well.

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