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Running a small e-commerce business can feel like you’re in a hamster wheel. You spend all day chasing your tail, desperately trying to get everything done, yet you never feel like you’re moving forward.
It’s a trap even the best of online entrepreneurs fall into. We started our business with a laptop, an Internet connection and a prayer, often just trying things out to see what will come of it. The problem is, once our little hustle actually turns into a business, we’re still stuck in this mode of working for ourselves, by ourselves, with the ad-hoc network of free and low-cost tools we’ve built. It’s so consuming of our time and energy, that we never have any left to focus on management and growth.
Before you give up from exhaustion and start thinking that running an online business may not be for you, take a moment to determine if you’re doing any of these things that severely impact your ability to grow.
Having a mindset for success and growth is one of the key elements to starting a business. If you go through all the technical steps – registration, branding, website setup, etc. – without first thinking about what your business represents and what you want to achieve with it, you’ll never be successful.
Even those who start with a goal in mind can get bogged down in the details of the day-to-day running so much that they completely lose sight of their mission. It can be soul-crushing to wake up everyday feeling like you’ve become a slave to the business that was supposed to give you freedom and fulfill all your dreams.
All hope isn’t lost though. Whenever you find yourself in this position – and it might be several times over the lifetime of your business – all you need is a few hours to get things back on track.
Simply take a moment to write down your short-to-medium term growth goal, take stock of where you are now, and identify the key steps you need to get there. You may not be able to outline all the steps right away, but list at least the first three, which will most likely be centered around getting your current workload off your plate so that you can handle future steps. Once you have that down, be sure to schedule the necessary activities into your calendar and treat them as non-negotiables.
With this in place, you’ll be back in the right mindset for growth and look forward to your days for the future possibilities they bring, instead of drowning in the now.
Thanks to the Internet, it’s entirely possible to run an online business with very little ongoing expenses. However, if you’re truly focused on growing a successful and efficient business, some expenses are worth paying for.
You shouldn’t necessarily go running to pay for every tool you want to use in your business right away. Instead, take a look at the work you do that takes the most time and effort. You know, the stuff you dread so much you break out in hives just thinking about it and you haven’t even started yet? That’s the stuff worth paying for.
Don’t ignore the value of paying for services for your personal life too, if that helps make you more efficient in your business. If cleaning your house takes up a whole weekday, a cleaning service will take that off your hands. Losing multiple hours going to gym? Invest in some home equipment that will keep you active. Paying someone to handle these for you can result in massive benefits.
If you’re apprehensive about making large purchases or you’re not sure if an online tool or product will help the way you think it will, rent or use it on trial basis and return it if it doesn’t work for you. If you’ve never tried something before and have no clue if it does what you need, search “[product name] reviews” on Google or YouTube to find in-depth reviews and videos that will help you make your purchasing decision.
At the end of the day, the only nonrenewable resource you have is time, and your time is worth a lot to your business. So if you can, buy it back.
Have you ever decided not to raise your prices or offer a particular service or product because it’s not something you’d want for yourself, so you figure your customers won’t want it either? You should stop doing that.
Too many business owners limit themselves to what they would want if they were the ones buying. While using your instincts is a good starting point, particularly if you have a lot in common with your target audience, it shouldn’t be where the buck stops.
The data in your business – social media clicks, website visits, sales statistics – is often way more valuable than your opinion. Numbers don’t lie. Keep them on hand every time you need to make decisions about what inventory to order, what promotions to run, when to raise your prices, etc. and you’ll see far better results from your efforts.
Additionally, if you’re looking for ideas to grow your business and you want to know what your customers would think, just ask them! You might think you’re being a bother, but you’re not. Most customers are more than happy to provide feedback and ideas to help your business if it means they get better products and services in the process. And they’ll be a lot more willing to pay for it because it’s exactly what they want!
Getting out of your own can be one of the most difficult things to achieve for anyone. When you’re in business on your own, with no one to challenge your instincts and decisions, it’s even harder. But if you focus on changing on things at a time, then you’ll always be moving forward. Remember, slow progress is still progress. Before you know it, that path you’re will start feeling less like a hamster wheel and more like a ladder to success.