How to Start (and Grow) an eCommerce Business

Chris Michael Harris, Executive Producer
8/23/19

Growing an eCommerce Business requires much more attention to controlling your costs…

I’m so glad someone like Adi Arrezini joined me on this episode of Entrepreneur Hour.

Because so many people get themselves in BIG trouble with eCommerce.

Especially newbies to the startup game.

I’ve got a buddy, who shall remain nameless, that sunk $75,000 into a product and has yet to sniff an ROI.

Better yet, I don’t think he’s even made $1,000 of it back.

#TrueStory

Because, here’s the thing…

It costs a LOT to manufacture a product.

And what makes matters worse is most won’t even take you seriously until you’ve got a large enough order quantity.

Meanwhile, you’ve sunk your life’s savings into this thing and have plans for being in every Walmart around the country.

So, in this excerpt, we’re going to talk about how to get your business off the ground + how to grow it by taking affordable steps.

Don’t bury yourself in the hole with exorbitant product costs

Photo by rawpixel from Pexels

Now, let me start by telling you this is NOT  a business I’ve started before.

I’ve played in a lot of sandboxes but the eCommerce one has yet to have been checked off my list.

That said, many of the same rules and principles apply, regardless of industry.

And I’ve been involved with bootstrapping two (working on three) 7-Figure startups by the age of 33…

That’s not a humblebrag, I’m just letting you know there are replicable processes to follow. 

Let’s get started…

1. Start building up your brand clout in the industry

Look, the people I see crushing ecommerce businesses, or any business for that matter, first spend time understanding the industry.

They may work for someone else selling their products or maybe they sell info products that lead to a physical product down the road. 

This happens OFTEN in the SaaS space.

Someone sees a tool REALLY needs to be made and decides to just go make it themselves.

Scratching their own itch is what it’commonly referred to as.

But unless you’re REALLY into this thing you plan on making, you just don’t fully understand the market and the real opportunity.

You don’t know your customers and you don’t know what they want.

Maybe you think it’s cool but it hasn’t been validated.

By investing time learning the industry and products you intend to sell, it really pays off in the long run.

2. Don’t open a store with 10,000 items

Oh, man…

This is a common one.

People think if they just open a store to sell anything and everything on it, people will have more options and more likelihood to buy.

And so they then just have “blanket marketing” tactics that reach and speak to literally no one.

Focus on selling ONE product.

Niche down and master that ONE thing first because, through that process, you’ll learn how to craft a message and sell…

You’ll also keep your costs under control.

Once you’ve figured that out, you can replicate and scale the process over again.

But that leads me to my next tip…

 

“The Dream Dies When the bank dries…”

3. Take pre-sale orders or early birds

Look, many Authors pitch a book that hasn’t even been written yet.

I NEVER develop an info product that I first haven’t validated with my audience.

And so, as you’re building your audience and educating people on this thing you’re going to eventually sell, run surveys and start considering pre-sale events or early bird specials.

Here’s the awesome part, if you can pull it off and deliver in a timely manner, it may give you more leverage with a manufacturer plus proof of concept AND some funding capital to actually pay for inventory.

But, if it were me, depending on the item, I’d do this instead…

4. Figure out a way to make the product YOURSELF

Look, I know it’s not ideal…

But, if you want this thing bad enough, you’ll do what it takes.

And there’s much to be gained from you crafting your own product, even a prototype (depending on what you’re selling).

Daymond John, an awesome dude and friend of the podcast, was printing and making his own FUBU clothes and hustling them out of a trunk at Yankee games…

So, if the King of Retail himself is willing to roll up his sleeves, you have no excuse.

Daymond even convinced his mom to refinance their home so he could invest in what he needed to grow the business.

Now, I’m not entirely suggesting the latter but just know he was willing to do what it took and KNEW his market because he was knee-deep in it. 

5. Scrap the overhead

Look, So many people want the creative studio, the storage warehouse or even the physical store…

But that’s hella risky.

And, as I always say, the dream dies when the bank dries.

You need to keep your fixed cost under control so you can allow yourself room to grow and make mistakes.

Plus, I’d love to see you sink your teeth into some marketing strategies and having a small budget for that is going to be tremendously helpful.

Selling a physical product with Facebook Ads is borderline like printing money compared to what I do in selling info products.

That’s all assuming you have a solid product, strong messaging and a visually appealing landing page.

Use the garage, the storage room or even a spare bedroom or a corner in your family area if you have to but wait as long as you can before you invest in a space.

 

There’s no need for a large facility until you’re a fairly large company with high profitability. 

Photo by Alexander Isreb from Pexels

6. Focus on building an audience

Look, the best lemonade stand in the world won’t do anything if it’s set up in a closet.

If nobody knows you exist, it’s game over.

And I see this often with “technicians”.

In other words, people that take great pride in their trade and creation.

Through the process of crafting your thing, there arises an emotional attachment.

And so everything that doesn’t work, a technician always goes back to tweak the product.

It sounds illogical (and it is) but it happens.

Michael E Gerber talks about this in his E-Myth Series of books.

And many people that CREATE something out of passion find themselves stuck in Technician Mode often. 

Go build an audience on Social, create YouTube Videos educating people on your industry BEFORE you even have a product.

If you can build a loyal following of people and an email list of people that trust your advice, they are going to literally JUMP when they realize you’re selling something.

It’s a lot of work, I know, but it really pays off.

I would be on at least one platform for Search…

Blog, YouTube or Pinterest.

Based on where your target demo is, I trust you’ll figure out where to be…

It’s usually best to really double down on one first rather than try to spread yourself across all channels.

7. Influencer marketing

Okay, so you don’t have an audience (per the last tip)?

Well, one of the fastest “growth hacks” to build one is to leverage someone else’s audience.

Brands pay BIG money to influencers to promote their products.

Now, you don’t need to pay Kim K $10MM to talk about your eye cream.

So, start with someone IN YOUR SPACE that’s big but within reach.

Build a relationship with that person, respond to their posts and EVENTUALLY ask if they’d be willing to try your product.

If it’s great, maybe they do give you a shout and a review to their audience.

I’m of the belief that they’ll do that on their own and I don’t have to ask…

But it will depend on the nature of the relationship.

Put it this way, they get propositioned enough to know what you’re asking for without ACTUALLY asking.

But if you want to give them a friendly nudge after a few weeks JUST TO ASK if and how they liked the product, maybe then you ask if they’d be happy to give you a plug.

Just make sure it makes sense for them.

So, maybe if you can’t pay them, you guys work out some sort of affiliate commission.

That has to be your judgment call and it’s largely based on your product.

8. Build a baller site on Shopify

Look, don’t dilly dally around with no website or a crap looking site.

You also want to make sure the bloody thing works like it’s supposed to.

Shopify is one of my sponsors and for good reason.

It’s THE BEST out-of-the-box eCommerce Site Builder…period.

There are just too many technical specifics with an eCommerce Site for you to try to build it on anything else or to hire a developer to custom code it.

You don’t need to spend that kind of money PLUS what do you do if your developer is the only one that can update your site?

Cha-CHINNNG…

And not the kind that puts money in your pocket.

Make sure you have GREAT photos of your product because that really does make or break both a site and the product itself.

Hope this list has been helpful.

Happy eComming and don’t forget to subscribe for future articles, videos and podcast episodes. 

TODAY’S SPONSOR

shopify

TODAY’S GUEST

Adi Arezinni

TODAY’S RESOURCE

E-Myth Revisited

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