Starting an online business is always an exciting time in any entrepreneur’s professional life. Having your own eCommerce store is an amazing opportunity to earn some money and gain financial freedom, but there are a lot of mistakes that you can get into, especially when you’re new to eCommerce and don’t have much experience.
While it’s true that you can always learn from your mistakes, I think you’ll agree that it’s better not to make them in the first place and be well on your way to online business success. Here are the 8 mistakes to steer clear of when starting your online business.
Mistake #1: Having no business plan
A business plan empowers you to understand what your online store is all about. You can’t please everyone in eCommerce, so it’s best to understand what target audience your products appeal to, and market it to them.
Don’t think you need an overly formal plan that’s pages and pages long. Simply determine who your customer is, what you’re selling him, what he’s willing to pay, what your cash flow is like, and how long it’ll last.
When you have these basics well-understood and in place, your chances of succeeding with your eCommerce store greatly increase.
Mistake #2: Having a really bad webhost that you can’t rely on
On the Internet, time is money, and the failure to always have a site that’s online means lost revenue. Your customers will be shopping at any time of the day. If it’s nighttime in one time zone, your customer overseas may well be shopping in the morning or afternoon—and they want a working site.
To make sure that your store is served by a reliable webhost, research before committing to one provider, so you understand what hosting is appropriate for an eCommerce store. For instance, if you sell many products or expect high traffic, then you’ll do best with a dedicated server or VPS. The last thing you want is traffic spikes causing a site disruption!
Naturally, this isn’t a concern if you’re hosted on one of the eCommerce platforms like Shopify.
Mistake #3: Neglecting good customer service on the site
Although you’re selling on the web and don’t see your customers face-to-face, that doesn’t mean that your customer service doesn’t have to be top-notch. In fact, customer service should be even better than in a regular store since so much of eCommerce transactions revolve around trust and your store’s reputation.
Good customer service means that you have your store’s contact info prominently displayed, so your customers can always reach you with feedback, questions or complaints. Phone number and email are necessary. Businesses lose as much as $41 billion a year from bad customer service: don’t let yours join those notorious ranks.
Mistake #4: Failure to do research to see who else is in your market
You can’t have a successful eCommerce store if you don’t know who your biggest competitors are. This relates to so many issues. You could price yourself out of the market if your nearest competitor is selling something similar, but selling it a lot cheaper than you. Similarly, what happens if the competition’s products are perceived to be better than yours or they already have a big lead on you in the demographic you want to target? What then?
Knowing all of this before you open your online store will help you greatly, so you can plan your marketing around what your competition is doing, too.
Mistake #5: Doing every little thing to save money
It’s understandable that you’d want to do everything yourself when you start out with your online business, but that should only be up to a point. If you’re doing everything yourself—like obsessing over your logo design or your business cards—then you’re doing something terribly wrong.
Instead, use the power of delegation, which is so easy on the web. There are lots of logo-design sites that can help you out, and numerous sites will also handle your business cards for you, all for a reasonable cost.
When you free yourself up from these menial tasks, you can focus on the really important aspects of running your business!
Mistake #6: Failure to develop a unique value/selling proposition
What’s a unique value or selling proposition? It’s the real or perceived benefit of your product that differentiates it from your competitors’ and persuades people to buy your product instead. It is crucial to define USP before you start your eCommerce store.
With so many eCommerce stores in operation, each one claiming to be better than the other, you have to stand out from such a huge marketplace! You do this by crafting a unique selling proposition. Maybe it’s that you have free returns, no questions asked. Maybe it’s that you give discounts like no other brand. This is vital, so spend a lot of time thinking about this component.
Mistake #7: Hiring the wrong people too quickly
You can’t do everything yourself, so an effective way to delegate the less important parts of your business is by hiring people. For example, you can hire people to be your liaisons with vendors, but problems can arise if those you hire don’t share your vision or understand what your products are all about.
Then, when you find out too late that they’re a poor fit, you have to fire them, which is awkward and a waste of productivity. Instead of wasting the time hiring people who just want jobs but aren’t passionate about your brand, don’t hire just anyone. Make sure it’s people who are as passionate about your online operation as you are.
Mistake #8: Taking for granted how much work and effort you have to put in
Don’t underestimate how much work and effort you have to invest in your new online business, especially when you’re just trying to get it off the ground. Work-life balance is going to be elusive when you first open your online doors, but that’s alright.
To avoid becoming one of those infamous statistics—where the majority of businesses that start end up failing—you’ll have to do a lot to make it work. That means working long days and possibly even into your weekends. If you love your eCommerce dream and want it to succeed, though, you’ll gladly do this until your business is sustainable.
Starting an online business is hard. Are you ready?
It’s notoriously hard to start a business, as the majority fail in their first few years. But now you know the things to avoid, so your chances are looking a little better.
Hopefully, you’ve learnt something with our list of the worst mistakes to make. So get out there, and make your online store a smashing success!