Today’s post is by Rich Gerald, a serial eCommerce entrepreneur, and the descendant of a notorious samurai from Japan. He’s also a published author and eCommerce consultant, and he knows what it takes to start a successful eCommerce business. Think you have the skills? Read on to find out!
If you are a budding online entrepreneur or involved in eCommerce in any way, then you know that it’s an industry that can support both the specialist and the jack of all trades. Both depth and breadth are valuable in such a young industry.
If you are at a bigger operation you might focus on a single cog of the eCommerce machine like Adwords or Email. Or you might be a solopreneur running everything from design to analytics to product fulfillment.
After working with countless entrepreneurs, several small businesses and a few of the bigger corporations, I’ve noticed that three things stand out amidst the best-of-the-best and can be considered core fundamentals of eCommerce success.
Become a Masters of Systems
You simply have too much to do. You can’t afford to spend time relearning the processes that you have already completed. You have to rely on systems. You have to be diligent in recording and improving those systems.
The masters always have checklists, task lists and step-by-step workflows ready to go as soon as they want to execute something they’ve already done in the past. No thinking is involved anymore. Thinking can be your worst enemy when you are trying to get things done. Thinking promotes procrastination and uncertainty. Whereas systems provide direction and efficiency.
Make sure you are implementing systems in every area of your eCommerce business whether you are a specialist or a jack-of-all-trades.
Develop a Love for Split-Testing
As much as we rely on our systems, we can’t let them or the results of them become stagnant. A system can only remain useful as long as the conditions it was built in continue to exist. A change in the marketplace can render your system completely useless or inefficient without further tweaking or in some cases complete abandonment.
Split-testing and diligent data evaluation are now necessities, not afterthoughts.
Given the whole Moore’s law thing (you know where microchip power doubles every two years) we are living in a time where conditions change so quickly that our business must match the market’s uncontrollable pace.
Add focused split-testing to your systems and now we’re talking about real business power.
‘Set it and forget it’ is something I never say or do. Nor do I encourage my clients to apply such an attitude. There is no such thing as ‘set it and forget it’ unless your goal is irrelevancy and lower sales.
Can you imagine trying to use the same shopping cart setup you installed in 2000 in today’s market? Can you imagine the frustration your customers would experience trying to navigate your website when your competitors are moving forward with newer and simpler technology? Everything needs to be constantly reevaluated due to the changing market dynamics.
But don’t look at this as more work, look at it as an opportunity. Every split-test should provide valuable data that leads to either lower costs or higher revenues. Awesome!
That’s where the love for split-testing comes in. There has to be a real desire to dig in, run the tests, and take action based on the results. Too many people are quick to say the job is done and there’s nothing more we can do. That is simply not true. That’s why the skill of split-testing is less important than the passion to do so.
Split-testing has never been hard, and it’s easier than ever now with all the platforms out there, it’s the desire to get every dollar out of your sales funnel that matters.
The MVP vs. Brand Image Balancing Act
This is really the ability to get out of your own way and let the data do the talking. I’ve seen too many small companies or entrepreneurs trying to perfect the product/website/content before they launch. They let brand image and the perception of others hinder their progress. They are worried what people will say if the design or content isn’t perfect.
“We can’t launch the entire eComm site because we don’t have enough blog posts.”
“We are waiting for the design tweaks before we publish.”
They make it about them, not about serving the customer. They are worried how people will view the brand if it’s not perfect. It’s ego.
I’m not saying to launch a garbage product, but let’s not lose sight of the power of the minimally viable product. Customers will tell you what to fix and focus on instead of you guessing what they want and spending resources in areas they aren’t needed.
It is of course, a balancing act. A critical skill needed by the eCommerce entrepreneur. I’d hate for you to spend months implementing cautiously while your competitor collects data on a similar offering and pivots before you even have the chance. These things happen a lot more than people realize. Being first is worth a lot and every successful entrepreneur can attest to that.
If you are already even aware of these three skills then you are at least batting .500. Start putting systems to work for you and save time. Start split-testing more often and save costs and increase revenue. Balance your brand image and your products to a degree that lets you enter the market quickly, allows for useful feedback, and doesn’t get you hung up on vanity.
If you are looking for more habits to pick up on your way to becoming a successful eCommerce entrepreneur, then I highly suggest you read my new book: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective eCommerce Entrepreneurs”. It’s free on my blog for a limited time.
It’s a short read that will really help you shortcut the learning curve and develop the mindset you need to be successful in today’s eCommerce environment.