If you are looking to run a lean start-up, then you need to do as much of the work yourself as possible. Taking the time to learn the necessary skills to get and keep your eCommerce site up and running isn’t the fastest way to do things, but it will be the most financially sound in the long run. Relying on others to do all of the heavy lifting for you is dangerous. If they just up and ghost you half-way through the work the project is dead in the water and will likely need to be restarted from scratch. Or worse, they could hold it hostage for a large sum of money. What happens if an unexpected problem comes up an hour before your big launch but it’s 2am in the developer’s country and there is no way to reach them?
So, here is what I propose you do to bootstrap an eCommerce site instead. Use a discount code for Codecademy to learn what you need to know, and use the open source CubeCart software to keep your business expenses low.
Use a Codecademy Discount Code
A survey of food truck owners asked what was the thing they wish they had done before starting their business. By far, the most common answer was something along the lines of learning at least rudimentary heavy duty mechanics. Truck repairs were much more frequent than any of them had anticipated, expensive, and were needed at inconvenient times that often cost them sales plus the expense of the repair. I feel that it is much the same situation with an eCommerce site, there will need to be repairs and relying on someone else to do them will be costly both in terms of the expense and lost potential sales. When you are starting out in business keeping the budget as low as possible is of the utmost importance. If you aren’t efficient in the beginning, you never will be.
If you’re not a coder, don’t worry. It’s a skill like any other, and it can be learned. I recommend using Codecademy. You can learn online at your own pace, and it’s not expensive. They have plenty of discount codes and sales that you can take advantage of to keep your costs low. I like their platform over others because you actually get to try the code out and see the results live while you are working on it in a split screen. I’m the type of learner that needs to apply the concept to fully understand it, so I think that is invaluable. You can also submit questions and work for feedback from instructors which is helpful.
CubeCart vs. Competitors
Here is my favourite thing about CubeCart: it’s open-source, that means free. It also has great features, works really well right out of the box with little to no customization (although you are free to customize it to your heart’s delight), and has support if you get stuck. Although you might be able to get it up and running with very little technical know-how, I would still recommend that you get that technical know-how so that if you do run into any issues they are easily solved.
The problem with a lot of the ‘you don’t need any technical knowledge!’ eCommerce providers is that they are extremely expensive. Companies such as Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace are going to be at least $20 per month, and more expensive if your business takes off and you need to scale up. Yes, that does include hosting and things like email, but $20 a month is a pretty crazy price for all of that, especially when you are just starting out. It could be done for $20 for a whole year. As I mentioned above, efficiency is king for the new business. Ideally, you want your expenses to be so low that you are making money from Day 1.
Keep it as lean as possible
The great thing about a lot of eCommerce businesses is that they can easily be run from your home or your parent’s basement if that’s where you’re at. You absolutely do not need to start with expensive software, you may in fact never need the expensive software if this is more of a side hustle for you. Start with a hosting plan that will cost you $20, get a $10 domain from Namecheap, and use CubeCart to set up which will cost you $0. Don’t start spending money until you are making money, and keep those costs as low as possible, always.