How to Start a Dropshipping Business in 21 Days | Our Step-by-Step Guide
Have you ever had thoughts like, “How can I start a dropshipping business from home? I work a 9-5 and know nothing about eCommerce” or “I don’t want to take out a loan and risk losing lots of money.”
If so, you'll be happy to hear that starting a dropshipping business from home is inexpensive, flexible, and very easy to build.
It's one of the best businesses to start from home, especially for people who have never built a business before.
Let's dive right into how you can start your own dropshipping business in just 21 days.
This blog post is also available in video form. Click ‘Play’ below to start watching! Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel for weekly updates and insights!
How to Start a Dropshipping Business in 2020
Realistically, I think there's no reason why anybody, even if you're brand new, cannot start a dropshipping business that gets sales within 21 days.
That's 21 days of putting in a few hours a day.
That’s why in this blog post on how to start a dropshipping business I'm going to explain how those 21 days are broken down.
I’ll show you where I think you should put your time each day. In turn, you’ll be ready to go and start your own dropshipping business that's ready to make sales in just three weeks.
Days 1-2: Brainstorm Niche Ideas
The first two days of starting a dropshipping business are for brainstorming niche ideas.
What I want you to do on these days is make a list. Doesn’t matter where: on your phone, in a Google Doc, on paper, wherever.
But I want you to make a list of 50 possible niches that you think you can sell.
The key point here is that they should meet my niche selection criteria.
If you're not familiar with that, here’s a quick overview:
- Price point has to be right.
- They have to sell to the right type of demographic.
- There cannot be brand loyalty.
I’m assuming you’re going to do this for a few hours a day. In that case, I really want you to take two days for this.
Now, there are a ton of different ways to brainstorm niche ideas. You can look around your house. You can go to the shopping mall and just look at like different items all around.
Additionally, we cover finding products in our Ultimate Dropshipping Guide.
I mean, there's opportunity to start dropshipping everywhere.
In the beginning, the goal is just to get these ideas down. At the end of day two, have 50 ideas ready to go for the next few days.
Days 3-5: Market Research
Now what you would do on days three, four, and five is market research.
What you’re doing here is taking that list of 50 niches that you just put together, and put each of them through a series of tests to see, do they actually make sense? Is this actually a good business opportunity?
Remember, in the beginning, it's just about getting those ideas out and having them listed. Now, we're diving deeper.
During these days you're doing your market research and you're making sure that when you actually pick one out of those 50 niches, you’ve looked into things like:
- Amount of suppliers
You're not going to choose them all. You're making sure that when you pick one, you're giving yourself the best chance for dropshipping success.
This is also why I don't recommend thinking of three ideas and picking one. If you have three options to choose from or you have 50, chances are if you have 50, you're going to have a better chance of finding one that is gold.
How To Do Market Research
Check out your niche on popular online marketplaces, such as:
Make note of how many offerings there are already for a potential niche.
You want to find niches with some competition, but not too much. Shoot for niches that have 10-20 vendors.
If there's too little competition, you either are extremely fortunate or there's a good reason.
If there's too much competition, you'll end up spending a fortune on ads in order to get sales.
Read reviews and look for common complaints. This will help you understand your potential customers and products better.
Take note of brands and products that review well and that you may be interested in carrying.
You can sometimes find a sweet spot by looking for items with a lot of reviews and a 3.5-star or lower rating. This generally means the product is in high demand but something about it isn't working.
If you can figure out a way to solve this problem, you will potentially have carved out a nice profitable niche for yourself.
Don't think there's any limit to how many profitable niches you can find.
I have lists of thousands and thousands and thousands of niche ideas. It's something that as you get comfortable looking for and as you get an eye for, you will literally see opportunity everywhere.
Now what I want you to do at the end of day five is actually choose which niche you're going proceed with.
Keep your list, but pick one to move forward with. That's going to be yours. Then on days six, seven, eight, nine, and 10, you are going to be building your website.
Days 6-10: Building a Store for Your Dropshipping Business
The next five days will be for building your store. Yes, you need to plan for five days.
Because, guess what? If you’ve never built a website before, this step will be a bit painful.
There is going to be a learning curve even if you're going through my Dropship Blueprint. Though we are there to answer any questions you might have.
So what are you doing on these days?
Well you can go through this blog post detailing the ten steps to building a Shopify store. But here are the basics:
- Sign up for Shopify.
- Upload demo products.
- Upload images to your homepage.
- Create a professional email address with your store name.
You’re doing all this so if somebody goes to your store, they think it’s a nice looking site.
You're not just throwing together some crap. You're spending a few hours a day, getting comfortable in the Shopify ecosystem and building a website that's presentable.
At the end of the five days, you should have something that you would be proud to show somebody else.
Make It Visible
Now what I want you to do at the end of day 10 is to remove the password from your Shopify store.
The way it works when you first make an account with them is they have it locked behind a password. So if somebody goes to your URL, they can't see it.
That's because they know you're going to be building and it's not going to be ready for the public.
But by the end of day 10, it should be ready for the public and you should remove that password and have it so everybody in the world can see it.
The reason you're doing that is because what you’ll be doing next...
Days 11-15: Get Approved with Suppliers
On days 11-15, you're going to be reaching out to suppliers so that you can actually have real products to sell.
The suppliers are going to want to see a store, so that’s the reason we build the website first!
You can't just call a supplier and say, “Hey, I'm thinking about selling tripods. Can I sell your stuff online?”
If you do, I promise you, they will reply, “Can I see your website?” And if you say, “Well I don't have a website, I'm thinking about building one.” They're going to say, “Sorry, we're not working with anybody right now…”
So we call them after you build a store. Then, on days 11 through 15, we have these conversations.
- We tell them who we are, where we are calling from.
- We tell them why we would like to sell their products.
- We tell them what we know about their company.
This is how you start dropshipping the right way, by building real relationships.
At this point, what we're doing is trying to get them to send us applications so that we can legitimately sell their products.
As soon as they send those applications, we’re filling them out and sending them right back.
So, hopefully we have at least 20 different companies we’re reaching out to at the beginning. We want at least five of them on board by day 15.
As soon as we get 5 suppliers to agree to work with our dropshipping business, then boom.
We stop making calls.
We start working with the people who we can work with.
Again, paperwork signed and everything.
We’ll also want to get product photos, descriptions, pricing, and all those things from them to start uploading their products to your website.
HOW TO START
YOUR OWN BUSINESS
WITHOUT PRIOR KNOWLEDGE OR EXPERIENCE
Days 16-18: Optimize for Conversions
So by Day 15, you have five supplier approvals. That’s important because Days 16-18 are all about optimizing your website for conversions.
At this point, nobody has been able to buy from for your store and you don't actually have products for sale.
So what you're doing on these days, 16, 17, and 18, are uploading those products from the five suppliers you got approved with.
You're also enabling Shopify payments so people can actually buy.
Then, you're removing any demo products that you had.
What’s most important on these days is you're going through every page of your website and triple checking it:
- Does the checkout process work?
- Does the “Contact Us” link to the “Contact Us” page
- What do the products look like on mobile?
- Do all the links on your site work?
You'd be surprised how many people just never do this sort of checking.
It's really ridiculous because even though dropshipping businesses are simple to build, they are real businesses.
To recap, spend a few hours each day during these three days:
- Uploading products
- Setting up Shopify payments so you can accept money
- Checking everything just like a real store owner would do before their grand opening
Days 19-21: Get Your Store “Buyer Ready”
Now, on Days 19, 20, and 21, you're getting people to find you.
First things first, get Google Analytics on your website.
Enable eCommerce for analytics so you can actually know where sales are coming from when people buy.
Then, you need to set up a Google Ads account and your first Google Shopping campaign.
You'll also need to set up your Facebook Ads account. Make sure that the Facebook Pixel is on your website.
You’ll also set up a very, very simple Facebook campaign for retargeting using dynamic products ads. This will show your products again to people that viewed them but didn't make a purchase.
What this means is now you're going to have the two most profitable campaigns you could have running–one in Google and one in Facebook.
The Google campaign is in Google Shopping and that’s how people are going to find you when they search for your niche.
They're not all going to buy right away, unfortunately, BUT they are going to go on Facebook at some point.
Which is great because you’re going to have your Facebook Dynamic Product Ads set up so that people come back to your website and can buy.
Recapping How to Start a Dropshipping Business in 21 Days
Now listen, you can start a dropshipping business in 21 days working just a few hours each day.
I don't care if all you can do on the computer is send an email right now. If you're not technical at all, I'm not either, you can figure that out. You can get that working.
And once you do, does that mean you're done and you're set for life?
No, it means you now have your foundation. It means you actually can get visitors and sales and be profitable.
Now you get into building mode where you're going back– you're adding more suppliers and more traffic channels. You're optimizing your website even more. You're optimizing your Google campaign. Maybe you're adding in more Facebook campaigns.
Bottom-line is: you don't need all that from the beginning.
If you want to know exactly how long does it take to build a dropshipping business... The answer is you could definitely do it in 21 days, working only a few hours a day, even if you have no experience.
Now, obviously, the whole process is a lot easier if you're learning from somebody that has experience, that's giving you templates, that's giving you their model.
And that is exactly what I provide at Drop Ship Lifestyle.
So if you're not a member yet, sign up for our free training. It's about two and a half hours long.
At the end, I will show you how you can get enrolled in Drop Ship Lifestyle for a really, really good price. Plus, you’ll get live monthly coaching calls with me in small group settings where I can answer any of your questions in detail.
How profitable is dropshipping?
Dropshipping businesses are exactly as profitable as you make them. If you pick good products and have a sound strategy, there's no limit to the amount of money you can make.
How much does it cost to start a dropshipping business?
You can start a dropshipping business for less than $40! Shopify costs at least $29 per month and a domain can cost $11 per year.
The more involved your business becomes, the more you will end up spending. But this usually pays off in other ways.
Can you lose money dropshipping?
Of course! This wouldn't be a real business if there weren't ways to fail.
But the beauty of dropshipping is that you only pay for the items you sell and you don't hold any inventory. Therefore, you don't share the same sort of risks as a manufacturer.
How do I start a dropshipping business?
Days 1-2: Brainstorm Niche Ideas
Days 3-5: Market Research
Days 6-10: Building Your Store
Days 11-15: Get Approved with Suppliers
Days 16-18: Optimize For Conversions
Days 19-21: Get Your Store "Buyer Ready"
What Makes a Dropshipping Business a "Lifestyle Business"?
At Drop Ship Lifestyle, I teach you how to build a lifestyle business.
As Wikipedia defines it, a lifestyle business is a business set up and run by its founders primarily with the aim of sustaining a particular level of income and no more. Or to provide the foundation from which to enjoy a particular lifestyle.
This is kind of loaded, because what’s the lifestyle you want?
People generally understand the concept because everybody wants something out of life. Whether it's more money or whether it's a hundred thousand dollars or a million dollars, people want different things. They want different lifestyles.
Then the question with Drop Ship Lifestyle and the Drop Ship Lifestyle model become how much time do you actually have to put in to build a lifestyle business using this model?
And there's a couple of reasons why that's tough to answer…
- It’s illegal to make any income claims on the internet– and I don’t want to go to jail.
- We’ve had people who were profitable within a week of joining Drop Ship Lifestyle, and we’ve also had people who have never gotten past selecting a niche… analysis paralysis is a killer.
I can't tell you it's going to take you X amount of time to make X amount of dollars.
Honestly, even if it wasn't illegal and if I could just say whatever I wanted, the truth is that the time it takes one person to get results could be drastically different than somebody else.
That could be because of previous experience. That could be because of work ethic. That could be because of bad timing, or life circumstances, or a million other combinations of reasons.
What I can say is with Drop Ship Lifestyle, we have a 21-Day Launch Plan.
We give it to members of our community at Drop Ship Lifestyle with the goal of having them up and running and ready to make sales in only 21 days. The good news is that's not 21 days of waking up at 4:00 a.m. and working until 2 a.m..
Why Starting a Dropshipping Business with the Drop Ship Lifestyle Model is *the* Ultimate Lifestyle Business Opportunity
If you’re reading this right now and you’re not sure if dropshipping is the right model for you, but you do want a lifestyle business then hear this:
Dropshipping really is, in my opinion, the best lifestyle business there is. There's a few reasons why too…
One is just the flexibility. You can run a dropshipping businesses from anywhere with a WiFi connection.
I lived in Southeast Asia for years and I've traveled non-stop for the better part of a decade. And I've done it because I work online with these businesses.
Dropshipping is a great business to start from home as well. It’s super flexible and can be successful while still in school or working a 9-5. Most of our members spent a few nights getting their store set up, others spend a few weeks or months.
Life gets in the way sometimes, but with the dropshipping model you’re granted flexibility to do it at your own pace. It’s not uncommon to hear stories one day from a member that was able to build their store and make the first sale in under five days.
Then the next day, we’ll hear stories from those that would stop-and-go. It might have taken them several months to build their dropshipping store before they went live and started making tons of profits.
With the dropshipping model, you can be successful either way: taking your time and knocking it out in a weekend or putting it on the backburner, building it little-by-little. The most important factor in building a successful dropshipping from home is your mindset and the quality of effort you put in.
For our Drop Ship Lifestyle student, Leigh, creating a lifestyle business meant pursuing his passion for acting and still have money to pay the bills.
“I decided that I would not lose my love for acting because I grew bitter in an industry that didn’t ‘fulfill me’. I decided that I’d CREATE MY OWN financial fulfillment. Then I’d spend my time LOVING acting regardless of whether it paid the bills or not.”
2. It's Inexpensive
Also, it's super inexpensive. You can get started for a couple hundred bucks.
Dropshipping is one of the rare online business ideas that doesn’t require a large investment or a huge sum of cash upfront. With dropshipping, you won’t have to pay for space to store the inventory, you don’t have to pay any upfront costs to the manufacturer.
The only costs to starting a dropshipping business from home is running paid traffic and your monthly Shopify store plan.
For paid traffic, Google Adwords gives you $100 in ad dollars when you first sign up. Hosting your store with Shopify costs about $25 a month, and comes with a 14-day free trial!
So less than $30 to start building your lifestyle business from home. That’s how small the investment is to build something that will change your life.
3. Easy to Start
It's easy to start. Again, follow a system. It's not rocket science, it's just work. So if you have a good work ethic, there's no reason why you can't succeed. If you're lazy, then guess what? Nothing's going to work.
So far, you’ve seen how starting a dropshipping business from home doesn’t require a huge monetary investment, but what about learning and investing in education? Well, dropshipping doesn’t require much of that either.
You don’t need a background or experience in a specific industry to run a successful dropshipping store. You wouldn’t believe what some of our most successful students were doing before they were making five, six figures through their store! But when you have the right teacher teaching you how it’s done the right way, success is a given.
A lot is learned along the way, with valuable resources and advice available to you through the Drop Ship Lifestyle community. Failure might be part of the process with your first store, but you have a whole community encouraging you to never give up.
Once you’ve done the process of starting a dropshipping business from home, it becomes quicker and easier. Most of our students have used their failures as a learning experience and came back with a second (or third!) store more successful than ever imagined.
Take this advice on how to start a dropshipping business from one of our successful students, Zhipan:
“You have to do everything with a purpose. Think hard and keep asking, ‘Why is this not working and how are you going to make this work?’ Keep asking questions like, ‘What did you try last week and what will you do next week?’”
4. A Supportive Community
And of course, our community. I’m going to keep talking about it because it really is the best. We were voted “Best eCommerce Course” by Shopify for a reason.
You will have a lot of supportive people all around you when you're part of Drop Ship Lifestyle. Whether it's me, the team, our coaches and other members.
Starting a dropshipping business gets so much easier when you have a community of other dropshippers and digital nomads eager to pay-it-forward and share some of their advice. Our community also has an impressive line-up of coaches and mentors ready to help you on a more personal level, should you need it.
One of our dropshipping students, Anastasia, said it best when she told us,
“This course is not just about dropshipping. It’s about an awesome group of people that support each other and help you with any questions you have. It’s really cool to be a part of such a great community.”
The community support is what we see over and over again as a major factor in our students’ success. Whether it was the encouragement or the advice, the supportive community of dropshippers are here to help.
Other than not sharing their niches, our members share everything! The big wins and even the painful losses are shared so everyone can learn something on how to start dropshipping. All this while members are freely asking questions without the worry of being “too beginner.”
Wrapping Up How to Start a Dropshipping Business in 21 Days
We're all here to help celebrate each other's success and hopefully you want to be a part of that.
If you think you don't have the time to start today, consider this:
- Life is busy
- Life will always get in the way, but if you don’t start now, then when will you start building the lifestyle of your dreams?
As always, if you got value from this blog post on how to start dropshipping in 21 days, please do share it with someone you know who could get value from it as well!
Make sure to leave a comment below to let me know what you're biggest takeaways were.
HERE ARE YOUR NEXT STEPS...
Join me for my dropshipping masterclass. You'll discover how our members are earning $300 or MORE per sale with the Drop Ship Lifestyle system:
Will a beginner in eCommerce find the best success with Amazon FBA or drop shipping? There are two questions you need to ask yourself, and this blog post covers both of them.
Be sure to register for our next free web class. Then, click here if Amazon FBA is the right choice for eCommerce beginners.