Starting an online business is easier than ever before. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to make you any money. The competition online now is huge and sites Ebay has allowed people to sell products at really low prices.
Here are 10 steps to consider before starting an online business.
1. Test your product/service.
Aside from what you think sometimes your product is just not that great. Don’t wait until you have put months into an e-commerce site to find out whether there is a demand for your product-Test it out old school with a market stand or a garage sale. The old idea of “starting a business out of your garage” worked because it showed proof of concept and demand before any time or effort was put into the business.
Survey or try selling examples of your business before spending money, time and effort to build a company online. Even if your product has potential, you should always test the business first.
2. DON’T assume that people will just find your site.
Having an online shop is exactly like having a bricks and mortar shop, Location! Location! Location!
You wouldn’t open a store in a regional country town where 7 people walk past your store every day. You want to be in the middle of the shopping district with 1000’s of people seeing you site online every day!
No one will end up on your site accidentally–the competition is too high. Every person who visits your new site will be searching for services, saw an ad, or was somehow told to visit your site. You need to have a plan to get traffic to your site in a very direct way. This plan should be clear before writing the content and selecting you Business domain name.
3. DO set aside a budget for marketing.
I would rather spend 90% of my online budget on attracting people to website. Than having an over designed, complicated website that costs the entire online budget.
Remember: This is going to cost money! Make sure you have a budget set aside just for testing. It needs to be enough to test several channels, but not so much that it will cripple your business if you don’t see ROI. Create a separate budget to pour into the channels that are successful. The best e-commerce brands test and retest every aspect of their funnel on a continuous basis–from layout to colors to flow to channels. All of these can affect your conversion in a big way.
4. DON’T bank on selling record amounts straight away.
While it’s worked for some companies, 1000’s have failed without being noticed. It takes a lot of time to find your niche and optimise you site to appear in that space.
5. DO listen to your customers.
Starting an online business you’ll hear from your customers, weather there is a problem on your site. The shipping option doesn’t suit them. This doesn’t mean you should act on everything they say, but you should definitely listen as they might has concerns that you can solve that you competitor might not be able to.
Your customers will point out things about your business you may have never thought of. After evaluating their suggestions, react quickly to build something even better than you could have on your own.
6. DON’T try to be everything at once.
Sell what you know and are good at, not everything you possibly can. When you launch, stick to your goals, be a great merchandiser, and focus on that. Don’t start risking stock and space on untested products.
7. DO build a solid foundation before launch.
Selecting the correct platform to run your store is important. Some E-commerce solutions a designed for particular business. Product ranges, categories, shipping. Wholesalers are all thinks to consider
Get organized, track your customers, and automate as much as you can before launch. Operational mistakes are very expensive to fix later on, so don’t think you are saving anything by rushing.
8. DON’T give up quickly.
Google is a cruel mistress. It takes a while for her to warm up to you. And if you neglect her even for a few days she will ignore you and move on to the next competitor that shows her the sightliest bit of attention.
She will make you and break you!
There are those that get lucky, sure. But 99.9 percent of success stories worked day and night to get there. It’s important to know that it won’t be easy and it won’t come quickly.
9. DO have a business model that makes money.
Starting an online business and being popular doesn’t matter unless you are making money.
Unless you are a charity or a ‘not for profit’, you must have your pricing and procedures in place to ensure you make money.
It might be a good strategy to gain market share with a free offering, but you need to know how that can turn into a profitable business–or you’ll be setting yourself up to be broke.
10. DON’T spend 12 hours a day sustaining your company.
If it takes most of every day just to keep up with your business, you will never grow.
If you’re working 12 hours per day just to fill orders and can’t afford to hire someone to do it at that point, your business isn’t scalable. Strive to have to do less of the day-to-day work so you can focus on growth and scaling your business.
For ideas on how to streamline your business and work out how to delegate responsibilities have a read of Tim Ferriss’ book “the 4 hour work week”. Tim takes it to the extreme. but enjoys a great work live balance.
If you need advice for starting an online business call Matt at OnePM to discuss.