The advent of the internet has made business processes much easier. It has made it possible for us to reach people on the opposite side of the globe with our business and product/service offering. It has also necessitated the emergence of new industries and has opened the door for new entrants into already existing ones such as the shipping industry.
With all the business simplification and automation that the internet has caused, we may be forgiven for thinking that we can skip some long held prerequisites of starting and running a business. Because you plan to run an online business does not make it any less a business than traditional brick-and-mortar versions.
It is not as simple as setting up a website, putting up products and selling your way to financial success. There is a lot that needs to happen before you launch your business; if you skip these pre-launch steps your business may hit the dust too soon for you to be able to do anything to salvage it.
Here Are Some Of The Mistakes To Avoid Ensure You Are Not Caught In This Mire:
1. Do Not Try To Be A Generalist
The mistake many online business owners make is that they try to sell everything and to do everything. Usually, the idea behind this is that they want to corner a huge percentage of the e-commerce customer base; they want to have at least one thing that any online shopper would be interested in. However, to achieve this you will need an equally huge and diversified online marketing campaign that should satisfy the varying interests of these shoppers.
The consequence of this is that you will spread yourself too thin and may not even be able to break even considering all the money you have spent to attract customers. The e-commerce space is a large industry, but the competition is extremely fierce, you do not
want to start off by diving into shark-infested waters. Start from a specific niche, it could be artworks, clothing, food, books etc. Look up companies like Barnes&Noble and Teespring to understand how doing less is actually more.
If you must scale up and diversify, let your customers buying patterns and preferences decide what direction you go. You will meet more success that way and will stand a better chance of hitting a better return on investment.
2. Keep Your Eye On The Bigger Picture
As a new business owner, you want to present yourself to customers in the best light possible and that is a good thing. You want your business cards to be made of the best material; you want to have the best logo design. The danger with this is that you may be dedicating too much time focusing on little details that are relatively trivial in the face of the real activities that grow your business.
Give the little stuff the attention they need and not anymore. Dedicate the large majority of your time and resources to activities that directly impact the growth of your business because that is what really matters.
3. Have A Financial Plan From The Get Go
You are just starting up a new business, the worst thing you can do is to start to expect profit as soon as you launch. That almost never happens. Steve Tobak, founder of the business strategy firm, Invisor Consulting says – “you should expect to run out of money before you make any“.
This is a good mindset to imbibe as you won’t get bogged down whenever money problems come up. Create a financial plan from the beginning; determine how much money you have to run your business and your spend-rate. This will help you be pro-active about getting more money so that your business operation does not stall at any point.
4. Prioritize Customer Service
Your customers make your business; if you have no customers, you have no business. Therefore, it is pertinent that you put in resources to make sure that you customers have a good experience whenever they visit your website, as they often will not return if they have a bad experience. Simple things like making sure your website is mobile-friendly and having different mediums to interact with your customers such as live chat, phone, email, survey etc.
Also, keep an eye on your social media channels to have an idea of how your customers feel towards your business. Also, leverage review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List and Glassdoor to reach out to your customers on there that have had a bad experience with your business and solve their problems quickly.
5. Not Tailoring Your Product/Service To Meet A Satisfaction Gap
In business, everyone wants to be unique or at least better than already existing alternatives. Before you go ahead to create a product/service, make sure to do adequate research to know how existing alternatives are meeting the customer’s needs. Find out what their complaints are about the product and how they would like businesses to improve on it.
This will give you insight on how to build your product or structure your service to satisfy your customers to a greater degree than existing alternatives. You do not want to create a duplicate of what they already have; that will likely happen if you do not conduct adequate research before product creation.