Starting your own online business can be exciting – but daunting. Researching lessons learned by others who were in your shoes might save you some time, money and effort. Here are our top 10 lessons learned, things that we wish we’d known before starting out:
- Quality costs money. Don’t cut corners. A well designed website, good technology and ease of use is extremely important to your success with customers. This costs money.
- It always takes longer than you expect. You never anticipate how long it will take or the issues that will arise when setting up. Start simple and launch, then build.
- Customer expectations need to be managed. Set them early and stick to them! Delivery is important – match your promise.
- Make it easy for customers. Make it easy to buy, ask questions, contact you, check delivery terms, etc. Use professional payment systems like Stripe, not cheaper limited options like PayPal.
- Don’t expect overnight success. Be patient. Concentrate on the best delivery you can, marketing your products or services and providing a professional service. Think about helping people – they will find you when they need your goods or services.
- You need to work constantly on your business. You cannot set it up and leave it alone. It needs to have content added continuously, needs to be updated regularly and you need to ensure your customers know what your latest products and services are. Work on your business as well as in your business.
- Ignore the competition. There will always be someone trying to copy you if you have a good business idea. You can either get caught up and overwhelmed by the completion or ignore it and concentrate on doing what you do best: providing the best products and services you can!
- Customers should not rule your business. They may be right but they can also be detrimental to your time and energy. If they are taking too much of your time or if they are diverting your business out of your core business focus, it’s OK to fire customers!
- Take the time to learn how to get going, before you start. You cannot just jump in when starting an online business. You need to do some reading, learn basic Internet skills, the terminology and have some background understanding – even if it’s just to be able to brief your contractors. You will save a lot of time and money in the end.
- Don’t be afraid to deviate from your plan. You may have had a clear focus for your business when you started out, but the market might be telling you to pivot. Be flexible and open to moving in another direction, if the market is telling you so. It could mean better growth opportunities for your business.
Good luck starting your online business.