7 Bad Habits to Avoid When You Are Launching Your E-commerce Business
In the past few months I have been getting lots of questions regarding the nuts and bolts of Shopify, Amazon, social media marketing, etc. I am pleased to see that small business owners are genuinely interested in learning more about e-commerce and internet marketing.
Today, however, I wanted to write about those intangible things that you cannot pack in a Power Point slide. Here's seven habits that could hinder the growth of your business and how you can overcome them.
Making assumptions: This could be seen as broad point; but the great thing is that it applies to any aspect of your business. When trying to start and grow your online business (or any business for that matter) you want to make informed decisions based on solid evidence. It is easy to asses a situation and draw your own conclusions on the spot. You may even be right a couple of times. However, if you are looking for steady growth, invest in your knowledge, find trustworthy sources, learn how to read data. The web is overflowing with resources, free and paid. Step out of your comfort zone, see the world from a broader perspective, connect the dots. It will help you make better decisions
Analysis paralysis: When you start learning a new business model, things might get messy. The more you learn, the more you realize you don't know enough. Between new software products you want to learn and webinars you want to attend, you might end up spending too much time in "analysis mode" instead of acting. The key is to do a bit of both. Learning is important but it's not the end goal. Put the knowledge to a good use. Experiment with what you have learned and draw your own conclusions. Eliminate what doesn't work and double down on what does work. As a rule of thumb, try to always have one or two small experiments on the go. These don't have to take too much of your time. Some of them end up nowhere, but the ones that work, could become a major cash cow for your business.
Launching too many products at the same time: If you have staff working for you, then by all means go ahead and conquer the internet; but if you have limited resources, the best way to bootstrap is to focus on launching one product at the time. Launching products takes a great amount of energy and focus. You need to work on product design, sourcing packaging materials, brainstorm and implement marketing strategies and the list goes on... and on... Focus on getting your product out there and building your client e-mail list. Once your product has launched and it's on "autopilot", you can start working on branching out. Remember the Pareto rule: 80% of your profits will come from 20% of your products.
Hesitating with your marketing dollars: This is a sore topic for a lot of business owners. Maybe marketing was not necessary back in the day when you were the go to guy for your services in your local community. However, the "everyone knows who I am in town" mentality doesn't take you far online. To have a successful product launch you need to create a buzz. You need to create a community. If you don't know where to start, work with mentors and consultants. Create a plan and implement it. Monitor your results, and keep on adjusting what needs to be fixed. Test different strategies and compare the results.
Taking on too many tasks: As an entrepreneur, you probably want to be in control of all the moving pieces within your business. While being resourceful is a great quality, you want to limit "time killers". Once you acquire basic knowledge of the tasks that need to be done, delegate the work. Know enough so that you are able to assess the final result and offer an input; then hire freelancers and VAs to do the leg work. It might feel like you are losing control at first, but you'll gain freedom and time to monitor the overall execution of the plan.
Focusing only on "doing": This point might seem counter-intuitive and against everything we just talked about, but it all comes down to balance. Most successful entrepreneurs know when take the foot off the gas pedal. When you feel unsure, spend more time learning, reading books, marketing blogs, listening to audio books and podcasts. When you feel overwhelmed, take a step back and go for a long walk in nature and think things through. Clear your head. Work out. If you want to produce exceptional work, you need to take care of your mind and body. There's nothing worse than doing a ton work and then realizing that the quality is below average.
Not having enough liquid capital: In a perfect world, we'd only spend cash when we plan to, but in reality, so many things can happen and you don't want to be running around asking family and friends for money. You need cash. You need it to invest in inventory, to pay your bills, to face challenges when they arise (they will for sure) and to act on a great unforeseen opportunity. Build a safety net by allocating part of your profits to a cash account and watch your stress decrease. When you have too much debt, you carry a huge weight on your chest that prevents you from thinking clearly and acting promptly.