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Five Ways to Start an eCommerce Business Before Graduation

by Jacob Dillon, on December 14, 2018

In this guest post, Jacob Dillon shares tips for college students who are preparing to start their own eCommerce businesses. What advice would you add? Tell us in the comments below!

Starting an eCommerce business is a popular choice for many young entrepreneurs. The rise of popularity of this particular business branch lies in its simplicity. Since young people are generally without substantial financial resources to their name, it can be a minimal investment for them.

To help you navigate the world of eCommerce, here is a quick tutorial.

Why is eCommerce a Popular Business Decision?

College students are the age group under the most pressure. With only a high school diploma, they are unable to find good work. Thus, they have to devote their time to specialization at college, which renders them unable to work.

Even if they do manage to find work, it must be something that’s not time-consuming and doesn't interfere with their class schedule and studying. eCommerce is a great way to earn money while at college. With only hours of set up, you can provide valuable services to people in need. But is it that simple? Let’s see the pros and the cons.

Pros: Reasons to Get Started Now

Taking the time to learn how to design your own page and install plugins takes only hours or days. While it is a job that requires some knowledge, it’s a minimal investment.

Unlike physical salesmen, you neither have to invest in storage nor in a space to sell. Instead, you have the liberty to buy what you need and sell as much as you want.  You can send out packages within your current schedule and start generating a passive income. Before graduation, you need every moment you can get, so opting for an eCommerce business is a smart choice.

Or, you could start selling items on the Amazon marketplace through the Fulfillment by Amazon program, freeing up more of your time and allowing you to get started with a minimal investment of time, since Amazon has a great platform in place for online sales.

Many successful entrepreneurs have gotten their start through eCommerce, often by selling products that relate to their student lifestyle, such as reselling textbooks or creating innovative solutions for students. One example is James Addison, who started an eCommerce side hustle in college and built a $3 million dollar business.

Cons: Reasons to Wait Until Graduation

While an easy way to make money, you need investment. If you’re selling clothes via your eCommerce store, you need to purchase them before you resell them to your customers. This can cause many problems, and you can find the influx of money too slow. It can also be difficult to find a regular supplier for your products if you are reselling.

The Best Ways to Start an eCommerce Business

The key to starting an eCommerce business as a college student is to get the right advice. The right approach proves to be a game-changer. At the outset, it’s essential to connect with "right people," lest initial failure shatter your confidence and you become unable to cope for a long time.

Let’s explore the best ways to kick-start an eCommerce business:

Check Demand

While this may seem like an obvious piece of advice, most eCommerce entrepreneurs seem to disregard it. As your business grows, its rate of development will be determined by demand.

Gavin O’Connor from EssayOnTime owns several websites and started his first eCommerce website when he was just 15. He advises, ‘’Don’t start selling something that people probably have. Also, keep an eye out for how much competition is there. If there are too many competing websites, it’s probably not worth the effort.’’

He cites a good example, ‘’One of my good friends from college got into the sneaker reselling businesses. All his life, he had been an avid sneaker fan, so he decided to buy pairs and resell them for a profit. Good idea. But he failed, mainly because he sold what he liked and did not research what people liked. Once he started focusing on models in demand, his business boomed.’’

Consider Teaming Up

In this era of business development, too much emphasis is being put on the individual. Even the most successful entrepreneurs are successful due to a good partner or team backing them up. Therefore, a good way to start an eCommerce business would be to partner up with someone.

Trust me, it’s a worthy idea. If you’re starting a business alone, you likely won’t be able to hear constructive criticism. Having a capable partner allows you to hold each other accountable, be more innovative and reach better solutions. You'll be faster and more likely to succeed.

Invest Wisely

Whenever students ask about the best way to start an eCommerce business, they focus on the results. Before graduation, it’s hard to acquire a good impression of investing. Contrary to popular belief, big profits come from smart investments, not big spending in the beginning.

Upon deciding which product to sell, every young entrepreneur should start with a small batch. By doing so, you can test the demand, the reaction to the price and much more.

If you invest wisely, it gives you all the knowledge you might need, without the risk of losing your initial investment. Once you get positive reactions, you can expand at an exponential rate.

Contact Relatively Unknown Retailers

When starting an eCommerce business, one of the most difficult things is finding a product supplier. Manufacturing your own products is difficult, especially at the start of your online store’s existence. Finding a retailer that is willing to give you a good price is even harder.

Thankfully, there is a solution. Lesser-known companies are also looking for a way to sell and become more popular. Why not contact them? Offer them a partnership deal. If they give you a good price, you will open up the market for them and even advertise them if needed.

Know When to Stop

Even the biggest companies like Amazon found little success in the beginning. Jeff Bezos wasn’t discouraged because he saw promising signs.

If there aren’t any, move on. Everyone has to come to terms with failure every now and then. When that happens, focus on starting something new. Refusing to shut down an unprofitable endeavor can only do even more damage.

Get Started!

Without a doubt, you should channel your creativity into an eCommerce business project. Just remember to gather a good team, invest smart and know when to switch to another plan. A successful eCommerce business could be just the beginning of your career.


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