Finding the most appropriate side business for yourself is key. It needs to be a place where your talents and passions intersect. But if jumping in with both feet isn’t your thing, that’s okay. A study by the Academy of Management found that entrepreneurs who start their business while working a full-time job are a third less likely to fail than those who jump in without a safety net. And, truly, creativity flows more readily (for most) when financial needs are covered. Just be ready and willing to make pockets of time to work on your business.
Building an e-commerce business while working a full-time job is a challenging venture but the opportunities are endless. All sorts of people want to buy all sorts of things and many of them want to do it from the comfort of their couch and jammie pants. We’ll start by covering some e-commerce specific tips to help you realize your goals and then move into more general ideas on what you might do to make your side passion become your main flame.
1. Spend money on a web developer who also possesses a talent for design. Make sure your developer of choice is also experienced, if not an expert, on the e-commerce platform you want to use. Product placement, details, and descriptions are time consuming and require the utmost of attention to ensure consistency and perfection in how your products are presented.
2. Plan and implement your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy early. It takes time!
3. Your website can go live with an “About Us” page and contact information – before the e-commerce portion of your site is ready to go. This will help you to start establishing some all-around credibility.
4. Handle the legal stuff. Register your business and obtain a vendor’s license. Money spent on an attorney who is knowledgeable about business start-ups is well spent to ensure that you cross all t’s and dot all i’s in your quest to establish a legitimate business.
5. Get approved for a credit card processor and payment gateway. Check out the best10merchantservices.com article that covers their take on the best ten payment gateways available for e-commerce.
6. Figure out how you will get products from here to there. Establish shipping and delivery options, privacy and return policies, and how you will handle customer service needs. Purchase packaging materials and determine what sort of promotional materials you’ll include in each shipment.
7. Take baby steps. Instead of launching an entire line of dog beds, launch one style of bed initially. Don’t market to all men, choose an age segment or activity interest group that should perform well with the initial product you choose to launch. Instead of jumping on every social media platform available, create one social media profile and do it really well. Then expand to other platforms. Don’t lease office space, clear out a room, part of a room, a counter, or a closet. Take some space that is already yours and work from there. Or take your show on the road and find some fabulous local eateries with Wi-fi or check out the public library.
Other Tips for Success
1. Just Start: 15 minutes a day is better than nothing. Baby steps. Have a master action step list that you add to as you think of things. Break those tasks into components and go after them one by one. Cross them off as they are completed, bask (momentarily) in your accomplishment, and move on to whichever part of your life comes next.
2. Set Realistic Targets: Stay motivated and encouraged by establishing achievable goals. Do this both while you are in the process of setting up your business as well as once you are off and running. Set realistic profit, product and advertisement goals. Whatever you need to accomplish for your business to take the next step, set a goal and go after it. And set goals for expenses as well as revenue.
3. Knowledge + Skills = Expertise: Okay, there is a bit more to it than that. Point being, build your knowledge and skills as you go, especially if your day job provides you with professional growth opportunities. Don’t look at the experience as just another training or conference. Approach it from a macro level and learn all you can regardless of whether or not you’ll use the skills or knowledge right away. Oh, and read, read, read!
4. Separation is Key: Don’t blur the lines between your paying job and the e-commerce business you are launching. Avoid even a hint of competition with your current employer and know whether or not you have non-compete clauses in your contract. Use company time for company business and personal time for your business. And, for goodness, sake, don’t be a “borrower” - buy your own paper and pens!
5. Time Management: Something will have to give unless you’ve invented a time machine. (And if that is the case, I’d suggest you patent it quickly, quit your day job, and off you go!) If something adds no value to your life, consider giving it up for a while. Learn how to say “no” to unnecessary appointments and commitments. Set boundaries and abide by them. Understand your productive times of the day and leverage those as best you can. When you’ve productively filled your 24 hours, consider outsourcing tasks you struggle with or don’t like to do – just be sure to stay in control of your business.
6. Test Drive: Test your product or service. Validation is key. Test the price point and the market in general. Seek feedback from people both in and outside of your niche. Network – seek out mentors and peers you trust to give you feedback on your ideas. If your business is service-oriented, start by freelancing as that will also help you build a client base.
7. Money, Money, Money, Money: Don’t plan a trip to the Bahamas just because you make a little money. Build a reserve and have a prioritized list of “wants” related to the growth of your business. Know the things or professional services that will help take your business to the next level and invest your money on those things instead of umbrella drinks. Consider funneling more of your day job paycheck to your online business. Set a regular amount and transfer it consistently.
8. Mindset: Never think small or act small. Your inherent value is no less than that of a competitor ten times your size. A positive, can-do mentality will take you far. Believe in what you are doing. Believe you will succeed.
9. Technology is Your Friend: Automate things such as social media with a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer. Do the same with your email marketing. You’ll find you are more productive when you spend a chunk of time on a Tuesday evening scheduling 30 days-worth of tweets than eking out 10-15 minutes here and there to try to accomplish the same task.
Occasionally engage yourself in a conversation and ask if you are ready to jump with both feet. Think about setting goals that mark when it may be time to make that change. However, realize it may never be time to jump. Some people find a happy balance between their day job, side business, and personal life.
Whether your e-commerce efforts stay on the side or become your main source of income, the experts at Strategy Driven Marketing can help you develop an amazing website with eye-catching product pages. Contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation and start selling!