The term “side hustle” became popular during the pandemic as people turned their hobbies into thriving E-commerce businesses. Woodworking, jewelry making, crafting and quilting are the types of side hustles well suited for E-commerce. Other popular options include freelance skills like photography, writing, editing and social media planning.
Every small business should have a website, and that includes side hustlers. Nearly half of Google searches have local intent. That means people are searching online for places, things and events in their local community. For small businesses and side hustlers, E-commerce expands the potential customer pool for products and services.
“The opportunity to take that to a broader market, either locally or outside the area, can produce money,” John Joyce, co-owner of CRS Technology Consultants, said during an interview on ABC7.
John recently had an opportunity to outline why small businesses and side hustlers should consider launching an E-commerce site. During the ABC7 segment, he also addressed potential cybersecurity risks.
Why Create an E-commerce Site
Picture a child’s lemonade stand as a side hustle. The potential pool of customers is extremely limited – just neighbors and passersby.
The Internet, however, opens up the potential customers pool to anyone with a smartphone or computer. That might not work for lemonade sales, but people everywhere are interested in certain types of items. Amazon even tracks the top-selling items in a variety of categories, including shoes, clothing, jewelry, kitchen accessories, home improvement and more.
“You might have once sold it to neighbors down the street, and now you’ve got people across the country who might want to buy that thing,” John said.
Security Concerns for E-commerce
Amazon, eBay and other online marketplaces have security procedures in place to protect data. That’s important when asking people to provide credit card or banking information. Creating your own website and adding an E-commerce component, however, puts that burden on you.
John recommends that small businesses and side hustlers wanting to add E-commerce consult with an IT professional. Cybercriminals are always looking for a weak link.
“It’s a really great way to make revenue, but it’s also a scary place because there are bad guys out there, too, that want to take your money,” John said.
When establishing a digital storefront, John advises to think about security and privacy in the same manner as a traditional retail store.
“If you have a brick-and-mortar shop downtown, you’re probably going to lock the doors at night,” he said. “You’re going to have security cameras up. You’re protecting your inventory. Those same principles apply to the web, so when you have someone that wants to break into your site, they’re not going to steal your physical product, but at that point, you are a steward of other people’s information.”
Some of the data E-commerce sites keep on file include:
- Credit card numbers
- Bank account information
- Usernames and passwords
- Phone numbers
“If you’re going to start a new business, you’re inherently taking a risk,” John said. “You’re hoping enough people are going to want the thing you have to sell that they’re going to show up and buy enough of it that you’re going to stay in business.”
With a brick-and-mortar business, entrepreneurs invest in property, either buying or leasing. They also invest time in creating attractive product displays, hiring and training sales associates, marketing and building a business plan.
With an E-commerce business, entrepreneurs are focused on creating and marketing products and services, but building a superb website takes priority. Security must take center stage. That’s why John says partnering with the right IT specialist is so important. That individual or firm helps register a domain, develop a website, promote products and services, process credit cards, encrypt data and enhance search engine optimization (SEO).
“All of those are specific decisions you have to make,” John said, “and there are right ones and wrong ones.”
READ THE STORY: Creating a secure digital storefront for your side hustle