Climbing your way up the mountain to financial stability and professional mastery is both exhausting and exhilarating.
Your tireless efforts towards cultivating the skills necessary to make financial gains might have made you weary and overcome with pride and satisfaction, but what happens after you achieve your original goals?
You set the bar even higher, of course! If working 40 hours per week, every week, for someone else’s grand plan ever made you feel a bit down existentially, now is your chance to take the reigns and run the show.
You have always loved model rockets, or suave sunglasses, wallets, watches, wakeboarding… Whatever your passion is, inspiration, and now you have a fantastic, industry disrupting idea for an online business. Congratulations.
But then the sinking, almost hopeless feeling creeps in. What should I do now?.
Starting a business might seem daunting, but if you can overcome the odds of financial instability, you can do this too. E-commerce is responsible for $1.2 million in revenue every 30 seconds. It’s raining money out there, so long as you know how to cash in. This article will give you the tools you need to get your feet on the ground in the great and growing e-commerce world.
Step 1: Get Feedback
Feedback feeds your business model.
In order to move forward, you need to find out if your idea is all that you’ve built it up to be. To do this, talk to your friends and family. Ask for brutal honesty. Don’t stop there, crowdsource feedback from random internet strangers.
One way of doing this is by making a survey. Ask questions about your idea in an unbiased way to illicit random, unbiased responses. Post the survey on social media sites. Facebook and Twitter are obvious choices, but finding the subreddit most closely associated with your business’s potential market can give you a more critical look at the idea.
Step 2: Make Your First Product
Once you’ve gathered enough data to know that you have a good idea, and maybe have even changed your idea to better match the market’s desire, it is time to get out there and build the product. Do this quickly and for as little money as possible.
There’s a quote from LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman that’s famous in entrepreneurial circles.
“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
In context, this means spending too much time perfecting your product, polishing and scrutinizing the entire way, can lead to a failed launch. Launching quickly and cheaply can elicit feedback about what people liked and what they didn’t like. Being rough around the edges won’t change customer opinion of the core concept. Taking forever and launching a polished product that nobody cares about, on the other hand, is a quick way to lose a lot of money, time, and learn nothing.
Step 3: Market Your Finished Product
If you got feedback that leads you to refine and adapt your product, congratulations! You now get to move on to the last step, marketing. The e-commerce market is always moving and highly competitive, so come armed with some basic marketing knowledge.
One of the first things you need to do is build a website. Familiarize yourself with content management systems like WordPress and start researching professional web designers, e-commerce shopping cart software, and graphic designers. Your website is your public face. Make it pretty.
Establishing a social media presence comes next. The Social Media Marketing Industry Report has data that shows nearly two thirds of marketers say Facebook is the most important social media platform. Here’s a helpful guide to get you started on your facebook page.
Never forget to save costs as much as possible. You could start placing pop-ups on websites related to your product, but that gets expensive fast. Inbound leads, like those gained through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are 61% less expensive than outbound, while generating 54% more leads.
With a basic knowledge of some simple marketing techniques, you can make use of sites like Fiverr, a platform where freelance writers, graphic designers, and marketers can be hired by entrepreneurs to do odd jobs. Sites like this a great resource for keeping your business lean.
Final Words: Just the Beginning
E-commerce is hard work, but there are more resources available than ever before for the budding entrepreneur. If you always get as much feedback as possible, fail quick and cheap, and market strategically, you should be on the way to the start of something wonderful. Though this article is concluding, your business is just beginning. If you follow the above steps, and research along the way, you will have made it over the first hump of your brand new exhausting, exhilarating mountain.