In a slumped economy, many former employees are deciding to take the lead by trying their hand at small business ownership. While one of the leading startup industries is e-commerce, it doesn’t come without its difficulties.

Novice business owners are drawn to the flexibility, independence and limited overhead offered by e-commerce. In a digital marketplace where you can work from anywhere, why wouldn’t you want to be able to make money while retaining your own terms and setting your own hours? It’s doable and it’s getting done – but it’s not as simple as it seems.

E-commerce is a serious business. It requires a serious plan and extreme dedication. Starting an e-commerce shop isn’t as direct as just opening up a digital store front. Because you’re digital, you have to work that much harder at marketing yourself – which means you now need to be a fluent marketer savvy in social media trends, email campaigns and industry trends. The pitfall with small business owners, especially newbies, is that they tend to invest too much into their business too soon.

Take your e-commerce platform for example. If you’ve got the money to spend you’ll hire a website design firm to craft you a site. If you have a more conservative budget, you can go with one of the leading and scalable e-commerce solutions like BigCommerce. For the rest, where investment funds are minimal at best to non-existent at worse, there remains one viable option – PrestaShop.

Created from crowd-sourced intelligence, PrestaShop offers users the ability to set up shop without having to invest in it. Prestashop offers several desirable features, including 120 themed templates, ideal for home/décor, cosmetics, shoes/accessories/apparel, tech, children, food/beverages and sports. If none of these suit your needs, one of the 10 poorly named but well designed “miscellaneous” templates will work.

The platform also offers formidable features that exceed expectations. Users benefit from a comprehensive “back-office” that offers catalog management. Catalog management gets you inventory control, eBay product export options, cross selling, the ability to sell downloadable products, product comparison charts and layered navigation options. An added bonus includes unlimited product listings.

Impressively, Prestashop grants your customers access to traditional single page checkouts, guest checkouts, gift message requests and wrapping. The program also configures shopping carts with expiration times, which motivates customers to convert browsing into buying. It’s a fact that customers will be more likely to purchase at a later time if their shopping cart is readily available, rather than having to restock it.

Beyond templates that exceed expectations, inventory regulation and convenience checkouts, Prestashop offers over 272 features, including: client accounts, analytics, language services, shipping options, product displays, site management, payment options, security features, SEO and marketing optimization, and even localized tax configurations.

Of course, even a free service requires you to pay a price. With PrestaShop, it includes not having 100% functionality, limited customization, stunted scalability, less than desirable customer support and a less than perfect program. But if you’re willing to work with the drawbacks for the first year or two while you build a client base, it’ll make a solid stepping stone for your business future.