Top Five Practical Tips for Staying Motivated as an Online Start-up

11 Apr
11th April 2017

Self improvement and motivational speaking seem to be all the rage these days. And whilst reading a list of clichéd quotes about comfort zones and blue sky thinking may help inspire you momentarily, it can be tough to keep grinding away day after day when pursuing your own new online start-up idea. After the initial enthusiasm has evaporated and you’re left with a lot of hard work and uncertainty ahead of you, it’s sometimes difficult to maintain motivation. We thought we’d share our list of practical tips for staying motivated, which you can incorporate into your daily life to help give you that slight edge when it comes to remaining energised and inspired.

Build Good Habits

The measure of a person’s success can often depend largely on habits, whether they be good or bad. Habits can be surprisingly easy to develop, sometimes without you even noticing. Bad habits can keep you stuck and grounded whilst maintaining and nurturing positive habits such as exercise and healthy eating can do wonders for your frame of mind, creativity and motivation. The key here is to make small changes – don’t rush towards impossible goals straight away. Continually make small daily improvements with achievable goals.

Break Bigger Tasks Down

We’re all familiar with that daunting feeling of facing what feels like an insurmountable challenge. It’s very easy to procrastinate and put off making a start on a job which feels overwhelmingly large. But once you break it down into smaller jobs, you’ll be surprised at how much quicker and easier it can seem.

Love What You Do

Passion is a term that’s bandied around a lot these days, so much so that it almost makes us feel guilty if we aren’t gushing with complete enthusiasm and joy on a daily basis. There is a lot of truth to the wisdom that being passionate about what you do will lead to a richer life, both financially and spiritually. Passion can be that all important catalyst that drives ideas and encourages tireless persistence to give you that all important edge in the modern business landscape.

Maintain an Uncluttered Workspace

This one is easy to forget about and neglect, especially on a hectic day. But taking just a few minutes to de-clutter your workspace will vastly improve your frame of mind and clear your head. As well as papers, post-its and coffee cups on your physical workspace that need to be organised and tidied away, it’s also a good idea to keep your computer desktop tidy and organised as well – it gives you that small feeling of control and staying on top of things that will seep through into other jobs you are undertaking during the workday.

Take Breaks

This one can also be easy to forget about if you have a big workload before you. But the truth of the matter is that your focus, motivation, concentration and performance will all suffer if you work away too long without giving yourself a proper break. Short, regular breaks such as 15 minutes for every hour will keep you fully energised and motivated so that you can accomplish more when you get back to the grindstone!

Have we forgotten anything? If we’ve missed any tips for staying motivated, leave a comment below!

Why Blogging is an Essential Component of Any Marketing Strategy

06 Jul
6th July 2016

There are many reasons why blogging is great for e-commerce. As well as helping to drive traffic to your website, promote brand awareness, and inform customers of news and offers, blogging also has many technical SEO benefits to provide for your website.

It’s no secret that Google loves fresh, dynamic content and therefore any blog on your domain which is consistently producing new posts on your area of expertise is bound to be viewed favourably by Google’s algorithms. Strategic links back to your own main site are a great way of increasing page ranking, as are link exchanges with other online brands.

As well as the technical SEO benefits, content marketing in and of itself cannot be underestimated as a means of driving traffic and increasing conversions. In order to do this, it’s important that you build up a following for your blog which means, first and foremost, only producing high quality content. Weak, derivative, link-cluttered clickbait simply isn’t going to cut it here.

So we’ve established that blogging for e-commerce is far more compulsory than you may have realised. The next stage in the content marketing lifestyle is to share your content far and wide; place links to your blog posts across all of your social media channels and also look at having these links shared by influencers within your industry wherever possible. Premium quality content is great, but it’s not worth as much if no-one’s going to see it.

You should also place careful consideration on the type of content you are producing. As well as writing articles on trending topics, it’s also important to have evergreen content – blog posts which cover perennial topics that are always going to be popular within Google searches. Such blog posts will index higher over time, attract more traffic, and inevitably provide more conversions.

Google Analytics will prove to be an invaluable tool when it comes to monitoring blog traffic, analysing conversion rates and working out which types of article and topic are proving to be more popular and more profitable. In this way you can put your blog to use in a wider SEO and content marketing strategy over time.

In instances of popular blog posts, it’s worth considering re-purposing content that has performed well for you, either in a guest-blogging capacity or by re-working old blog posts into other shareable forms of online content; think infographics, videos or online slideshows. These can also be shared across your social media channels with captivating pull-quotes taken from the blog text to capture your audience’s attention and imagination. There are a number of creative ways you can promote content online and drive traffic back to your website; the sky’s the limit here.

5 Common Myths Around Building an Online Business

04 Sep
4th September 2017

With so many new online shops being set up with each year, there are a few common myths amongst new shop owners which may slow or even prevent their business from taking off. With this in mind, here are our top 5 myths of building an online business.

 – “Build it and they will come”

Whilst this may to some degree be true of physical retail, sadly this isn’t the case online. With many types of products being so saturated nowadays, there’s virtually no way for potential customers to know you exist unless you tell them.

This leads us onto mentioning Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO for short. Although a strategy to help your store climb the ranks of Google + Bing is highly recommended, it’s an ongoing effort and more effective only in the long term. SEO alone is unlikely to create sales for your online shop in the short term.

When starting up then, it’s important to know that some investment of money or time will be required to place your product/site in front of potential buyers eyes. This could be via Pay-Per-Click advertising (Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook Boosts), or linking in with shopping comparison sites (Google Shopping, Pricegrabber, Shopzilla etc).

You can also get more creative with your advertising – YouTube videos, blog posts or sponsorships can all prove an effective promotion of your business. It’s always worth trying fresh and unique ideas to try and win new customers; try new things and find out what works for your niche.

 – “My website looks great, so it’ll do really well”

Having a great looking website is obviously incredibly important these days. We’re visual creatures, and the design of your site could mean the difference between a swithering customer spending or not. It’s also evidence to your shoppers that your website is up to date, has had the proper time and attention paid to it, and can be trusted to deliver.

All said though, looks aren’t everything, and a great online shop needs more to it than just its looks, the style needs substance to back it up. Your offering needs to be competitive, as looks alone aren’t enough to sell your product.

For instance, is your product well priced in a saturated market? Are your delivery terms competitive in your industry? Does your online shop demonstrate the same level of trust and transparency that competitors do? Unsurprisingly these are quite difficult to achieve when starting out, for example your product may be priced higher, and you may not have as many reviews to back up your levels of service, as your competitors.

So then, it’s really crucial to hit on these points early, and call these out early on your site, for the greatest chance at success. Be aware too that the importance of design to your webshop also comes down to the relative standard within your area of business.

 – “I need to spend hundreds of £ on a web designer”

Although most web designers will try and convince you otherwise, the idea of strictly needing to hire a traditional web designer to build an online shop, is an outdated one. Unless your site needs bespoke functionality, a custom or unique design, or if you want to outsource the majority of your online store build. In these cases a more traditional approach makes more sense, and certainly has its place.

Otherwise, for a new ecommerce venture, you might consider self-hosted open source software such as OpenCart. Assistance with the more technical side is available if required and is often well backed up by the community via online forums, support sites etc. This route can be cost effective, but also might be more time consuming upon any problems or issues arising.

Alternatively, a cloud hosted ecommerce platform like EKM is a reliable choice for building an online shop upon. Commercial support is available, and with an impressive feature set, including over 150 templates. You’re also more likely to achieve a better looking website than going it alone. It may prove slightly more expensive month to month, but bearing in mind your saving of time and initial setup cost, this is the most suitable option for most.

 – “I’ll get loads of sales from my Facebook/Twitter followers”

Having an excellent and dedicated fanbase on social media is no bad thing. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc are a fantastic method of keeping clients up to date, increasing customer loyalty online and establishing a strong brand identity.

On the contrary though, more followers does not necessarily mean more sales. Fans on social media platforms are rarely looking to actually buy immediately. This also goes to show that paying for bulk Facebook or Twitter followers is generally a poor idea – it’s usually fairly obvious, and unlikely to generate any sales or return on investment.

Having a great social media following then will be more beneficial in the long term, becoming invaluable to your business later on. A consistent social media presence will keep your brand in their minds when the time to buy does finally come around.

(Note this section doesn’t apply to paid social media advertising, which can work well in many cases).

– “My website’s live now, so job done”

This might not be a surprise at this stage, but actually building your online shop may be the easiest part of the process! Getting set up is just the beginning.

Gone are the days when any old business idea could be profitable selling online – just about every market is saturated. The more saturated the market, the more time and money will need spent to make your shop stand out from the hundreds of others. You must have the right product(s), a clear Unique Selling Point, and a competitive price point.

Setting up an online shop, like any startup business, also requires a great deal of persistence, learning, and continual investment of time. Things rarely happen on their own. With enough effort, commitment and sensible decision making though, you can be sure of the reward. Customers will come back to you time and time again, when you give them good reason to.

We hope this post gives you an idea of some of the common misconceptions out there, and might help make your online business more successful. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!

Motivational: Starting Up a New Business

30 Aug
30th August 2017

Ah, you’ve finally developed that great idea you have. You’ve created the perfect product that the market needs and you’re excited to get it out there. You know that this item is what so many people are looking for. Now to go into business, get this thing sold, improve and benefit other people’s lives and, be your own boss… it’s exciting!

But, then you start to look at what setting up a business includes; Registering and paying taxes, choosing how to handle VAT so that you don’t alienate your customers before you even start, or equally as bad, after, or for yourself into a financial loss. Wondering where to find, what kind, or if you even need insurance. Debating how to protect your copyrightable assets. How to market, where to sell, setting up an online shop… The list goes on! And do you even have any or all of the knowledge in these areas to be able to maintain and manage them to sell your brilliant product in the way it needs to be sold?

Then you realise that while you’ve been busy developing your product, you haven’t had any time left to do all these other extras you’ve now discovered you need. You sit, thinking about this great product that will now disappear in the abyss, not because it’s a bad product, but because setting up and running a business is so complicated.

But it’s not, really. Looking at your brilliant product, you see a stunning end result. But, as you bask in its glory, you forget the trials and tribulations you went through to create it. You forget the long nights, perhaps after your day job has finished. You forget the numerous mistakes you make, backtracking and throwing failed ideas away. You forget the days when you were stumped, out of ideas, and too tired to work. Yet, you sit looking at this great product you created, impressed with your abilities.

Developing a business is just the same. Stage one is the repeated failures that developed into the great product you have. It’s the result of taking small steps, making small choices, thousands of decisions that, when all were filtered and organised, resulted in the ideal set of conditions that helped you create your brilliant product. And you made each and every one of those thousands of decisions. You probably didn’t know it, but you were also learning and discovering along the way, working through new things that you had never worked through before. But you did it, most likely because it was enjoyable.

But we never see ‘setting up a business’ as enjoyable. It’s the side that most of us small business owners probably dislike the most, or do only because it has to be done to get our ideas out there. That, is the difference.

You see, all the steps to setting up a small business, stage two, are all the same steps that you put into creating your product. Making mistakes then fixing them, exploring and learning new ideas, getting stumped then finding the solution after taking a break, meeting people, making thousands of small decisions that add up to the end result of a business.

When you created your product, you probably never thought about the whole thing, in it’s entirely, complete and perfect. When you created it, you probably discovered many failures that you improved on. If you’re like most of us though, you probably envision your business complete; set in stone, unable to be changed, and that you have one, and only one, chance to get it right.

But it’s not true, really. A business is just another aspect of your product. Something you can take your time with and enjoy. You will have thousands of steps to take to get your business up and running so why try to do it in one big leap? Take the small steps, enjoy them and find something great in each one. Discover something new and seek out or meet other people who might be able to help you. Who knows, they might need your product or know of others who will (that’s sales without trying).

When we look at the complexity and immensity of something huge, especially if it’s out of our comfort zone, we are often intimidated and become fearful. The key is to turn that around so that we are not afraid. Every now and then, forget about the big picture, look at one small step you can take that will move you forward. Keep in mind, if the details are right, the big picture will be right. Always remember too, just like your product, nothing is set in stone when setting up your business. Go back and change it if a decision doesn’t work out. Just take exactly what you did with your product and apply it to setting up your business. You’ve done it before, and now it should be even easier with all your experience. Make things easy so that they can be enjoyable. Don’t worry about money; find an accountant to keep things in order. Don’t worry about the technicalities too much; find a sharp legal mind if you’re concerned about something. If you have no idea about online shops, hire an e-commerce specialist. Outsourcing is taking the big leaps, and turning them into just another of the thousand easy decisions, keeping it easy and manageable.

Gluten Free Meats Now Easier to Buy Online

30 Aug
30th August 2017

If you’ve been searching for a UK butcher stocking Gluten Free Meats, you might in the past have had some difficulty. The big name supermarkets have certainly improved their “Free From” offerings, but gluten free meat doesn’t seem to have been as carefully considered. Lack of choice where gluten free foods are concerned has always been an issue, and continues to be a problem in many areas.

Thankfully, Rendalls Online Butcher – a traditional Scottish butcher based in Stirling, UK – have a solution to this problem. Rendalls offer a fantastic selection of gluten free meats, with free delivery on orders over £75, and provide an easy and secure website to order with.

More people now than ever are turning to shopping for their groceries online, and certainly meat products are no exception.

Of course, the main staples for most meat-eaters are usually burgers and sausages. Rendalls have you covered with gluten free steak, pork and chicken burgers, and also beef, cumberland and pork sausages… enough to satisfy even the most veteran of BBQ experts!

If you’re looking for something a little different instead, you might also happen upon gluten free offerings of steak pie, black pudding and lorne sausage. Also shaking things up a bit, exotic meats are a brilliantly low fat, nutritious alternative to traditional meats.

For those with a hankering for seafood, be sure to peruse their section of fresh fish, with everything from Haddock, to Cod, to Sea Bream easy to shop online. The health and nutritional benefits of fresh fish are clear to see – it’s good for you, it tastes amazing and it’s a definite way to change things up in the kitchen!

Delivery terms are fair, with orders being delivered chilled in secure packaging. You can also select a preferred delivery date at checkout.

It’s worth noting that they do handle other glutenous products in the building, although Rendalls do take great care in their preperation.

It’s great to see a British butcher taking it upon themselves to offer such a great choice of gluten free meats and deli items. We’ve teamed up with Rendalls to offer you an awesome 10% off your first order, exclusive to OST readers – use coupon code FIRST10 at checkout – you can thank us later!