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Before you take the leap: 8 Things you must know before you start your online business

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When I launched my nail polish brand almost eight years ago, I was so excited about the prospect of creating something but I was also very new to the e-commerce space and business in general so I quickly caught with the reality of business that was not really adapted to the market realities.

The nature of my products, my distribution channels, and the high costs of marketing are some of the things that I have not properly planned for, I assumed that a great product would sell itself once people became aware of it. 

With literally every product, service one-click away, it is easy to assume that tapping into the e-commerce space is simple. However, for many startups including mine, that assumption is quickly replaced by reality and adjustments have to be made to stay in the game.

Ease of setup does not equal ease of business, the success of any e-commerce business depends greatly on understanding the international market trends, choosing the right channels, models, and systems, and most importantly the right products for the right niche.

Targeting the right audience and choosing adequate channels of communication are some of the keys to success for e-commerce business, the continual shifts and changes in the global market also call for businesses to become more and more flexible and adaptable.

So here are the 8 things that you must know before you get started:

 

1.     UNDERSTANDING YOUR UNIQUE VOICE AND CONTRIBUTION

Starting your business is such an exhilarating endeavor, it doesn’t only build us up but even the people around us. Begin with asserting your worthiness, your creative freedom, your ability to live life on our own terms with clarity of purpose.

This will help you with understanding yourself and avoid dysfunctional behaviours that may affect your decision-making as a new business owner. I saw my insecurities show up in the most unexpected ways, so do the inside work and build the self-awareness that need to move ahead and show up as you are and avoid the trap of wanting to have it all together or even showing off when you think you have become successful. I will go more into details in my last point.

The beauty of understanding our voice is so crucial for the journey since we are all naturally drawn to expressing ourselves, and through this expression, we find a sense of connection with others. Our experiences and perspectives are woven together in a vast network of ideas, dreams, and desires, forming an infinite web of interconnectedness.

The pursuit of creative entrepreneurship is an exciting journey that enables us to discover new aspects of ourselves and share our unique visions with the world. So with each step you take, you will gain the confidence to venture into uncharted territories and embrace the unknown with confidence. It is a journey that requires a lot of exploration, experimenting with new ideas, and taking risks.

2.     THE GOING MIGHT GET TOUGH SO PREPARE ACCORDINGLY

Be clear about what you want this business to do for you so that you can fully prepare for it. Starting a business can be hard, the idea of being your own boss sounds very exciting but entrepreneurship is in nature emotionally, physically, and financially taxing and it can feel very lonely at times; it is also important that you clearly define your concept and the need that it will address.

3.     BRINGING YOUR SOLUTION TO THE RIGHT AUDIENCE

Your offer has to be a clear solution to an existing problem; some of the things that I had missed while defining my ideal persona are their behaviors and lifestyles, women didn’t buy their own nail polishes, they went to salons and had their nails done there, and most importantly the people that I assumed had disposable income were very price sensitive.

There was not enough market share for me to tap into and make a sizable profit margin. Listen to what people are not necessarily saying, look at the trends and your industry stats.

4.     DO A THOROUGH MARKET RESEARCH

You have to have a clear understanding of your product life cycle and its challenges before you begin; for example, my product was in the dangerous goods category and was heavy so it costs me so much more in shipping. This is more applicable to you if you plan on selling a physical product.

The customs also considered it luxury goods which meant that I paid about 55% in taxes. Now I know that are different tariffs and taxes for every country but these are some of the things that you should research before embarking on your entrepreneurial journey. Know your product’s dimension and weight, variations, shelf life, durability, and any time of restrictions attached to it.

Check the World Bank website for cross-border logistics performance and simplyduty.com to calculate import and duty taxes so you will know how much tax you will have to pay if you are importing your products. Other tools that you can check include Google trends, Google market finder, and Buzzsumo to find out more about the most ideal markets to enter and how to build a strategy around your market intelligence.

5.     CHOOSING AN OVERLY COMPETITIVE NICHE

No matter how great your product is, you should always pay close attention to what the competition is doing. I was up against already established cheaper brands and people didn’t really care that my products had much fewer toxins in them, were long-lasting, ethical, or vegan friendly. You have to choose niches that are not saturated and overly competitive. I learned this the hard way.

6.     ASSESSING THE  VIABILITY & PROFITABILITY OF YOUR BUSINESS

Deciding on a pricing strategy and having financial projections that will help your business break even, make profits, and eventually scale your business are some of the things that you have to think about from the outset. How much are you buying your products for? And how much will you sell it for? What other costs will you incur and what pricing model will you choose? Will your business be profitable?

Cash is queen, one thing that really blew my mind is how much one has to spend on marketing and promotion since as a new player no one knows you so you have to make sure that put your products in front of a wide audience. So think about you how you are going to keep cash flowing in your business, otherwise you are going to be very frustrated and tempted to quit.

Educate yourself in finance. To my previous point on product knowledge, my product being in the dangerous goods category made it impossible for me to scale my business and import it in other countries due to the high costs of transport and custom duties.

7.     PROPER RESOURCE AND VALUE MAPPING

I had spent so much money on product design and development that I literally had little money for advertising and hiring, I had not mapped out my value system and processes and decided who would be in charge of what so I was so overwhelmed running my business with so little help.

So define your processes and design systems around that to avoid unnecessary burnout.

8.     PRIORITIZING MY MENTAL HEALTH & WELL-BEING

I had subscribe to the hustle mentality, overworking myself to overwhelm and extreme fatigue to the point where I no longer enjoyed running my business. You don’t have to subscribe to this mentality, you have to learn to work smart, make the right connections and automate your business so that it works for you in the long-run and so that you can reap the benefit of your hard work.

Creating a work/life balance is extremely important, this ain’t a rat race, learn yourself, your patterns, and decide on what you want this new found passion to do for you that isn’t just monetary. So listen to your body and make rest part of your productivity schedule.

I hope this was an eye opener and that I will help you create a business that will thrive and make profit. I want to know where you are on your journey so please feel to comment and let me know what you think.

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Creatively yours!

Xo,

Ange

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