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It’s easy to see why starting an online store is such an attractive proposition these days. With many traditional career paths no longer viable, ecommerce technology drastically lowering the barrier to entry, and the internet being packed with free (or cheap) resources on every aspect of making a sale, there’s very little holding anyone back from becoming a merchant.

How you approach it is up to you, of course. You can carefully plan it out over months or even years, identifying your target audience and selecting the products you believe can rocket you to overnight success. Alternatively, you can take the route that’s considerably more educational: you can get your store live as soon as possible and figure things out as you go.

For budding entrepreneurs, the latter approach is generally better: you learn from the mistakes you make, so the sooner you start making them, the faster you’ll learn. Even if you have a main job to work and other things to do with your time, you can launch an ecommerce store in under a week — and we’re going to look at five tips for doing just that:

Find a checklist to follow

Getting all the basics in place within seven days may be perfectly possible, but it’s also tricky in the sense that it’s really easy to miss something obvious. You might get to the end of the week with your store live and feel confident, only to suddenly notice that you left your contact page full of filler text. Disastrous? Not necessarily — but embarrassing, and not a good first impression.

This is why it makes sense to have a checklist to complete before you start promoting your new store. There are plenty out there if you look up ecommerce launch checklist or something similar: I recommend Shopify’s version because it’s fairly comprehensive, but if you’d rather find something simpler or more suited to Squarespace (more on that later), then you might want to use this checklist from Emilia Ohrtmann.

Choose a suitable niche

Small ecommerce stores can be successful, but only if they’re very targeted: this is because they can’t compete on pricing or product lineup, so they need to get ahead through specializing. Due to this, one of the first things you need to do is decide which niche you’re going to target. One of the most common niches at the moment is fitness products. You could sell healthy snacks, supplements, fitness equipment, etc.

If you don’t want to choose a popular niche, you could take some existing niches and combine two or more of them to get a new niche. For example, you could combine health and education and build your store around health products for students. There doesn’t need to be a huge market — just enough people to potentially keep your store going.

Take inspiration from rivals

The design stage of building a store can take a while, particularly if you want everything to look fully custom, but you don’t have the time for that. Does that mean you should settle for the default theme of whichever system you choose? Well, because there are always various themes and customization options available, you can (and should) aim for more than that.

I suggest taking a look at all your favorite ecommerce stores (and any you can find that target your chosen niche) to see which design elements you like and which you don’t. You can then use that insight to guide your customization. Tweak a basic theme with your preferred color scheme and layout options, and you’ll have a decent foundation to build on.

Use a simple store builder

I mentioned Squarespace earlier, and it’s exactly the kind of website building tool you should be considering. You don’t have time to design a store from scratch, and it would be expensive (and needless) to hire a developer to do it for you, so instead you should base your website on an intuitive foundation that can save you a lot of time and effort.

Note that using a store builder doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. You can still bring in a developer to help: instead of hiring them to custom-build everything, you can hire them to use the builder on your behalf, using their skills and expertise to get great results far more efficiently than you could manage alone.

Start with Dropshipping

Sourcing and stocking products is one of the toughest parts of running an ecommerce store, and it can take many months to arrange great deals — so why not skip that step to begin with? You don’t need to stock any products to sell. Through dropshipping, you can list third-party products on your site and pass any resulting orders to the suppliers for redemption.

While Squarespace doesn’t connect to as many services as other platforms do, it does integrate well with Printful, a print-on-demand service that works excellently for many first-time merchants. You can create custom clothing designs for your brand, make sales, and let Printful handle all the work from there. And while that’s happening, you can be figuring out how you’re eventually going to stock and sell your own products.

There you have it: five tips for launching an ecommerce store in just one week. Your store won’t be spectacular, but it can be solid, and the point is to get something live so you can start experimenting with the exciting world of ecommerce. The more you learn, the better your chance of one day achieving great success will become.

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