Is It What You Expected?

On February 12, 2012, in Business Promotion, by lesley
Retail boxes and bagsIt has taken me a little while to recover from the weekend, because it was a particularly good one. My daughter made an absolutely fabulous cake, (complete with turrets) and later we watched The Green Hornet, but probably best to say as little about that as possible. As a finale, my son quite excelled himself when it came to our regular session of Dungeons and Dragons. It wasn’t easy, since the bad guy, the revolting Surgeon King, had enhanced his evil creation. Number 76B now has six arms, every one of them a sword wielding menace.  But we got through, and the surprise was, it was because we got help from an unlikely source. A character who was not what he seemed.And that turned into a full scale discussion about our whole journey from the UK to the USA, and the things which were not as we expected.  One of them was ebusiness.I’ve lost track of the number of people who have told me that e-business is not what they expected, and I’d have to agree. When I started my nightgown business I fondly imagined I'd spend most of my life thinking about fabrics and designs, when in fact the main concerns are traffic and conversion. And that’s saying nothing at all about the amount of writing that’s involved.

So, for those who are still starting on the e-business journey, here’s an idea of what you can expect.

When you decide to go into business online, you may have no idea what sort of business you are interested in. If that’s the case, your first job is research. You’ll find more ways to make money than you can possibly imagine (and just as many people willing to take money to show you how to do it) but experts agree that when you’re starting up, and probably still have a day job, the best thing to do is start a webstore, selling physical products online using a dropshipping model.

You need very little money to invest, and you don’t need much technical skill. It is unlikely that one store will make a you fortune, but it should make you money within a reasonable time (1 year to 18 months, though it can be sooner) and when it does, you can look at schemes which require more investment (or time or money) or you can simply open another store and do it again.

Your first task is to find a niche, something you can feel good about selling and either know about or feel happy to learn about. Something lots of people want to buy, but not too many other people are selling. Something with a good profit margin, related magazines and a possibility of repeat sales is ideal. Then you can really get started, and it’s all about research and making choices.

  • Find a domain name and register it
  • Research the different possible shopping carts.
  • Choose one.
  • Start building your webstore
  • Start building a blog
  • Open a  twitter account
  • Get a facebook page
  • And, while you’re doing all that, find a company who are willing to drop ship the product for you.

Drop shippers are a special type of wholesaler who allow you to buy from them only when you have sold to your own customer. You hold no stock and the drop shipper ships direct to the customer. Of course you don’t make as much profit as you would using more traditional methods, but you don’t have to risk money on stock, either. You can always move to traditional retail once your webstore is successful.

You have no idea what you’re doing, so you have to learn, and you learn as quickly as you can.

Once you’ve sorted out the products, you load them into the shop and off you go! You’re in business.

Only you’re not, because the Internet is a REALLY big place and your store is really tiny.  Unless you have lots of money to spend on advertising, you have to set to and start promoting your store. It’s out there, but no-one is visiting, you have no ‘traffic’.

And that’s when you realize that Internet business isn’t what you expected it to be.

You spend a lot more time writing articles and submitting them, tweaking your website and twittering, than you thought. And if you don’t like writing, it can seem like you’re in hell. But you’re not.

Because one day, as long as you don’t give up, you get that first sale. And you realize that all the head scratching, the learning, the long hours, the forcing yourself to do things you didn’t want to do and never expected to do,  has actually produced a result.

You keep going, promoting your store in every way you can, and the sales begin to increase, and soon there is money to reinvest, to get an assistant to do a couple of those things you don’t enjoy, and maybe even run the whole store. Because you went through the whole process yourself, you know exactly what an assistant needs to do. And so you take the next step.

You find another niche.
And you do it all again.

Because by now the goal is in sight. You know how it’s done, you can do it again, and again if need be. And when the store makes enough profit you have what everyone dreams of; freedom from the 9-5, financial security, a job you can’t be fired from.

But it won’t have been what you expected when you started.

Has your e-business turned out as you expected? Does the description above surprise you or disagree with your experience?

Leave a comment. I’d really like to know.

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3 Responses to “Is It What You Expected?”

  1. Chris Bruno says:

    What a spot on post! Not only have I realized that there is so much more to starting an online business than I ever thought possible. I had jumped ahead a few steps hoping that I could jump start the sales process and realized quickly that the steps you describe need to be done in order. I an not a quitter and I am in this for the long haul, so I will see you at the finish line (where I will be ready to start the process all over again!!)

    • lesley says:

      Well that’s the joy of new things, they’re never quite what you thought they would be, but I know in your case they will be better! You have a great attitude to all this, so just one more hint. You know those links you’re building by writing articles? Well, you can get links from blogs comments too …

  2. Valentina says:

    The post is right on; I never ever thought that running an e-biz is going to be more than listing quality products with well written text on a well designed site. Writing articles, social networking, site optimization – it’s a steep learning curve, true, but what I find most difficult is the lack of validation of my everyday efforts in a reasonable time-frame. If you did it right you might see results in 4 months; well, and if you didn’t you spent 4 months moving in the wrong direction! That is something I still struggle with. However, after two failed attempts, I know more and I do more. I believe that the third time is a charm!

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