Tag Archive for: business

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.