I just spoke with a newbie entrepreneur who’s a designer and wants to sell her fashion directly to consumers. At first she toyed with the idea of a retail store but realized that the cost of this was prohibitive (too expensive for her). She thought that creating an online store was the way to go because she could showcase her wares and have broader distribution and reach across the country. Welcome to the world of online retail! Good news! There are some $$$ shortcuts for starting an online retail business thanks to the proliferation of online platforms that make setting up a store super easy - whether you’re thinking about selling cutting edge fashion, meal replacement bars or customized jewelry. In the past, you had Yahoo, Amazon, Ebay- which can still be great portals. However, for the newbie entrepreneur, these channels don’t necessarily provide a lot of guidance or teach you about running a business so that you can be effective and turn a profit. Sites like Etsy.com and Goodsie.com are the new wave of online platforms that are catering to particular communities of entrepreneurs with products to sell to consumers. For example, Etsy provides guidance and online courses that make setting up an online store easy and effective, especially if you were to go it alone for the first time. While there are fees involved to sell, host and process transactions, this is a far less expensive way of getting started. I think platforms like these are a great way to show that your idea has legs and allow you to generate revenue sooner rather than later. Using one of these platforms doesn’t mean that products will necessarily sell themselves. But they will allow you to focus on product and business development, instead of investing too much time, money and energy in developing your own shopping portal, and finding distribution- which can put you out of business before your killer product is even introduced in the marketplace. In summary, consider one of these platforms to get you out of the gate but before you do, create a plan and go through the steps of starting up. Then ‘launch’ to the public. Once you’ve gained traction, you’ll be able to make more effective decisions for selling your wares whether you stay on the platform or take over the world with your online platform.