I have been riding bikes since I was a little kid. It has always been my favorite thing to do :) I started racing mountain bikes at age 14 and loved it. I had an obsession with customizing bikes and riding the latest and greatest products out there. It was only natural I start up a high end mountain bike shop in the years to come. I had been working in, and involved with the bicycle industry for several years prior to opening the shop, so I knew all the great brands I wanted to sell and the existing distributors. Industry knowledge was vital. I strongly feel if you want to start a business in a certain industry you best work in that industry for at least a couple of years.
I started with eBay. I always knew there was a lot of traffic on there and people looking for bike parts so I began selling there and our retail shop. It has since snowballed into a total omni-channel operation. The goal was always to be omni-channel with our website being the most prominent of channels. Our website (Shopify), eBay, retail store and Amazon generate the most traffic and sales.
Xero, ShipStation, Zen Payroll and MailChimp. As far as biggest impact, ShipStation for sure. Their software is awesome and I don't know how we would survive without it. We do it all internally. Since we ship such specialty products and offer a huge array of them this is our best bet. We have a well organized warehouse and systems in place to handle shipping and along with ShipStation we pull it off nicely.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Start small but most importantly START! If you have a good idea for an online store, go for it. If you see some traction, keep going! You learn so much by "doing." Experience is truly invaluable.