This grand year of 2020 has been quite something - and we’re only two-thirds of the way through it. If you own an e-commerce business you’ve probably either suffered a major decline in sales or revenue has exploded, depending on your product or service offering. If you’re lucky, you’re somewhere in between maintaining a steady and sustainable pace.
This year has presented everything but balance, moderation, equanimity, stability, and security. We’ve seen social, environmental, and economic disruption to unprecedented degrees: raging wildfires, racially-charged riots, a pandemic, and a major economic recession, including a massive stock market crash.
We won’t linger too long on the bad news - you already know it. More important is the good news - disasters and misfortunes are always opportunities for growth, renewal, and insight.
One insight we know for sure is that anything can happen at any time to anyone. What that means essentially, is that we have very little control. But that doesn’t mean we’re furballs in a wind storm either. Safeguarding your business means taking measures to ensure that it has a strong foundation, airtight windows, a leak-proof roof, and walls that can weather any kind of storm.
The following suggestions for best practices for online business are based on our experience as Shopify Plus ecommerce website specialists. They’re actions you can implement at any time to keep your online business safe and strong.
When you take an international flight and check your luggage, do you tuck a couple changes of clothes in your carry-on bag, along with your toothbrush? Such foresight isn’t about fear, it’s about prudence––acting with care and thought for the future because, as we pointed out, anything can happen at any time to anyone.
When you’re investing in the stock market, you don’t put all your money into one stock. Why? Because if that stock crashes then what? You go broke and kick yourself for not having had the gumption to diversify your investments.
Diversification is an act of prudence, and it applies whether money is on its way in or out. Making all your income from one source is risky because one day the need for your one product or service may become obsolete. There’s something to be said for honing in on one offering and putting all your attention and expertise into perfecting it––that’s necessary. But once it becomes a finely-tuned operation and the money is rolling in, it’s time to expand.
Add another product to your shelf. Add to your services. Create a course or write a book in your area of expertise. In the online world, there are many options for diversifying and increasing your revenue stream.
Easy, right? This tip is a tricky one because it sounds easy but it’s hard to make a reality. It takes time, perseverance, research, creativity, and elbow-grease.
Convenience is expensive, and because most people don’t want to do the work they end up spending more money than they need to. It’s always easier to pay someone to do something for you, and in many cases, it makes sense. You need copy? Hire a copywriter. You need to market your product? Consult a marketing expert.
Hire out those tasks that require specific expertise, but minimise overhead costs where you can. That’s the beauty of an online business––you’re not paying rent for a physical location and you don’t have transportation expenses.
In the world of ecommerce, business models like Shopify dropshipping are ideal for maximising revenue and minimising investment. Most dropshipping businesses require anywhere between $50-$500 to start, which is peanuts in normal times, and still relatively low-cost during times of economic disruption. If you’re selling services or information rather than products, expenses are even lower.
This is about quality versus quantity. We don’t all have gobs of time to devote to business development, so we have to make the most of the time we do have. Contrary to popular belief, time is not money. We’ve all spent loads of precious time engaged in tasks that bore very little, if any, fruit. Maybe because we were trying to multitask, or because we weren’t present during those tasks and so we wasted the time we had––it’s a different story for everyone.
Business development and growth is not a time investment, it’s an attention investment, and it’s critical to be selective about where you’re putting it. That requires you to be tuned in all the time, not just to the daily operations of your business, but also to your market and current economic climate and trends. It also demands that you engage with your customers, know what they want, and respond accordingly.
There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world right now, and there’s a tendency to react to events out of fear, frustration, or even a “f**k-it” mentality that throws the baby out with the bathwater. We may fire someone in haste, make rash financial decisions, or jump into a great sounding opportunity without doing our homework. The consequences aren’t always favourable so we react again.
It’s easy to become trapped in this kind of tennis match and hard to break the unproductive and unrewarding cycle. Long-time business owners aren’t exempt from this but new entrepreneurs are especially prone to it.
When making business decisions, pause before you act. Not necessarily to think or analyse, but to give a moment of space and attention to the situation that requires your action. This goes for business and personal decisions that involve money, partnerships, transitions, and more. Even those decisions that seem insignificant can have a butterfly effect on the entire enterprise––whether that’s your life or your company.
That pause is the first step in responding rationally to situations that require our attention. Then, we assess our options based on our past experiences, knowledge, expertise, and the current economic and social climate. The quote “bet on the jockey, not the horse” sums up this idea well. Your response will always be the common denominator in any decision situation and the #1 attribute of the outcome of that decision. If that sounds daunting, keep in mind that it’s also very empowering. It means you do have a semblance of control, and like attention versus time, it’s more about what you do with that control rather than how much of it you have.
Remember that bit about hiring out expert help? That goes for setting up your Shopify site too. We’re a Shopify marketing agency for ecommerce in Dublin and the rest of the world. Right now, we’re offering a free strategy call, so if you’re interested in learning more about how to improve your online business, we can help. Give us a call today.
Lockdowns are beginning again in some areas of the world. Hang in there and find out how to mitigate the risk from supply chain disruptions.