We first dove into ecommerce in 2005, quickly growing a drop-shipping business from our front living room. In four years, it not only made us a very nice living and reached the top position in its niche, but we were able to sell it at a healthy multiple of net profit.
Thar’s Gold in Them Thar Hills
Despite — or, rather due to — the dominance of Amazon and others in the online commerce space, the opportunity to build and grow an online business is just as rich today as it ever was. And that’s not hyperbole. Just look at the growth of Shopify as an indicator of how many new online businesses are being created. In the fourth quarter of 2016, over 51,000 new merchant stores were created on its platform.
According to Statista, global ecommerce was just above $1.8 trillion last year. By 2021, they predict global ecommerce will top $4.5 trillion. That’s a huge growth in only the next three years.
Yes, there’s always competition, though. Even franchises — long considered the best business investments around — will occasionally fail. Smart businesses know how to compete. And, above all, they know how to plan.
We live near a Home Depot. As a typical male, my palms get clammy whenever I see all the gleaming tools lining the shelves. Today, I can spend less to get tools that make woodcraft and home maintenance easier. Interchangeable battery packs allow me to use a variety of routers, saws and drills that share the same power cells. As a do-it-yourselfer, I feel capable of building a house from the foundation up!
The reality is that although the tools are more accessible and there’s a ton of YouTube videos to guide me through the process, serious construction requires experience. As with starting a business, home building requires thorough planning. Even though I might be able to saw the lumber and nail the boards together, I’ll still need experts in electric, plumbing, masonry and more to complete the job in a way that will give me the returns I want. Undoubtedly, I need an architect before I break ground to make sure I’m building a house that will last and meet all applicable codes.
ecommerce is much like that today. The tools are easier to use and less expensive. However, there are many areas in which deep experience is worth more than the price you pay.
If you’ve started exploring ecommerce, you know that every online platform, service and tool gives you the impression that you can do it all yourself. That’s just not the reality.
At novusweb, we do have among our team a very deep level of expertise in all aspects of SMB ecommerce. That’s because we’ve built hundreds of stores and we have enough bandwidth to explore and vet all the new developments hitting the market.
The good news is that you can do a lot of it yourself. In fact, we’re excited when our clients feel ready to take on additional ecommerce functions. The more self-sufficient they become, the more we can work with them on the remaining aspects that still need a master’s touch.
The purpose of this series is to help you discover what you can do yourself and with what you may need help. For some businesses with in-house teams, most, if not all, of what it takes to succeed in ecommerce can be tackled, with only some initial training and guidance. Some of our smaller clients need more of our assistance until they grow to take on more.
Therefore, as you read through this series, with each action step, note whether you have the inherent skills to tackle it or if you need assistance. With the tools we explore in this exercise, I think you’ll find you can handle a lot of what it takes to succeed online. Just be prepared — and honest enough — to assess your own capabilities.
Aim for Success
No one reasonably starts a new business with the express purpose of failing. But, even as easy as it may seem to start an online store, you will fail if you don’t take a moment to set your goals, map out your plan, and gather your resources.
That’s the purpose of this series: to give you enough knowledge to intelligently create a plan for success. It may seem like a lot at first, but, as my father always told me, “if it’s worth doin’, it’s worth doin’ right.”
Do your ecommerce right and you could join the millions who are making money online.
What are your ultimate goals for selling online? They might include one or more of the following:
- Build a cash-flow and asset for retirement.
- Expand a brick-and-mortar business by selling online.
- Create a second income source.
- Grow a business-to-business (B2B) operation by making it easier to sell wholesale.
- Taking an existing online store to a more profitable level.
All good reasons to do it right!