Over the past two years, the pandemic has driven people to rethink what work means to them and reevaluate what they want. From flexibility to happiness to autonomy, expectations are changing across the workforce and some are even leaving their jobs behind to find fulfilment elsewhere.
In fact, 2021 has been dubbed as the year of ‘The Great Resignation’ as a report revealed more than 40 per cent of the global workforce are considering resigning by year end.
There has never been a better time for entrepreneurship and luckily, for those wanting to dip their toes into the world of eCommerce, digital platforms and tools online have been designed to streamline the process and democratise entrepreneurship to make it more accessible, for everyone, anywhere.
Yet, that’s not to say launching a business is by any means an easy task. From ideating brand ideas to product creation, all the way down to the nitty-gritty logistics such as figuring out shipping strategies, there’s a lot to consider.
To help aspiring entrepreneurs navigate how to start a business, we’ve brought together 10 entrepreneurs who’ve done it all before to share their top advice based on wisdom gleaned from their own eCommerce journey.
Top eCommerce tips
Bon Maxie – Clare Spelter, Director
“Look at problems or frustrations you have in your own life, and spend the time to look for what’s out there and what’s missing,” says Clare Speltor, Director of Bon Maxie, a boutique brand for organisation products. “I think the problem with a lot of businesses failing is they don’t have a reason or passion for what they’re doing, and they don’t have a product that stands out enough – so the motivation during the inevitable tough times will disappear.”
“Without passion, the crazy hours you’ll work to get an idea off the ground won’t be sustainable or enjoyable. I’d also suggest getting your face on camera and sharing your story as early as possible. Customers are going on to social media to connect with other humans – having a human element behind your business will help them realise you can be trusted, are a real site, not a dodgy one, and will let their connection with you ease them into making a purchase.”
ChilliBOM – Rodney Sammut, Founder
Rodney Sammut Founder of ChilliBOM provides aspiring entrepreneurs the following checklist: stay focused, be patient and have fun! He says, “Don’t try to be everything to everyone on day one. Bring your basic idea to life and then grow and evolve your idea based on what’s working for you and your customers.”
Patience is key when it comes to starting your eCommerce business. He says, “This is the hardest thing for most people, but you have to give things a chance to evolve. It takes time for your message to get out there and to be picked up, so hold the course and let your website and advertising do its thing, learn what metrics are important for your business and set goals and keep track of milestones before you make big decisions to change something.”
Lastly, Rodney adds, “Have some fun with it. This is something you are passionate about so let that passion shine through in everything you do, and it will be paid back tenfold.”
Mustard Made – Becca Stern, Co-founder and creative director
For those wanting to start their own eCommerce business in 2022, Becca Stern of lifestyle and locker brand, Mustard Made, has one piece of advice and that is, think about scalability.
“Build your business to be scalable. Think of your business as being 10x your current projections, and then work out whether the infrastructure you’re establishing now will allow you to get there,” she says.
“When we first started Mustard Made I was considering managing the shipping in-house. I was planning to put a shipping container full of lockers in our backyard and run our own warehouse from there. Thank goodness we decided to outsource to an actual warehousing partner because our business could not possibly be where we are today if we hadn’t thought bigger and invested in our own scalability.”
Good Citizens – Nik Robinson, Director
Nik Robinson, Director of eyewear brand Good Citizens says it’s all about streamlining the purchase decision process. He says, “What’s changed the most in our favour this year as a result of restrictions is the consumer’s willingness to purchase more risky items online. Sunglasses are normally something you want to try on before you buy them.”
“So, it was really important for us to make the purchase decision process as easy as possible. First, we make returns really easy and secondly, we invested in virtual try-on technology so people can see what the glasses will look like on them.”
“My advice would be don’t be held back by what tradition tells us. We’re living in a time when nothing is normal so if your product isn’t typically sold online, look at why and remove the barrier. Consumers are braver now than ever before,” he adds.
Spill the Tea Co. – Sienna Capra, Founder
Having started her tea business during the pandemic as a 15-year-old, Sienna Capra, Founder of Spill The Tea Co. says maintaining entrepreneurship qualities and capitalising on all online platforms is critical for a successful eCommerce business.
“Identifying your point of difference in the industry and understanding the importance of your brand and the power of your story is an integral part of the success of your business,” she says.
“I believe technology is something that comes quite naturally to someone of my generation, which is why eCommerce based business is the way to go. Being a product-based business, an online platform was essential in order for me to reach my desired clientele and niche market and further extend my retail sector of business as well as add a blog space, enquiries page and create discounts and other promotional extras for customers. Shopify has been so simple and easy to work with yet effective in the way in which you can market your business, promote and link to social media channels.”
For other young entrepreneurs, Sienna says, “Use digital platforms to your business’s advantage by seeking feedback, growing your online community and ultimately, expanding your revenue.”
PetCulture – Chris Cheung, Chief eCommerce Officer
Start simple and small, then scale from there. Chris Cheung, Chief eCommerce Officer says, “It’s easy to get overwhelmed starting an eCommerce business with so many moving parts and technology moving at a much faster pace than before.”
He says, “By starting simple and small you really focus on what is important and learn what customers want. Once momentum builds and customers are raving about your product, then you look to scale and start to solve different scaling problems. The online eCommerce world is ever-evolving and there are still a lot of opportunities out there for new entrepreneurs.”
Irving & Powell – Victoria McEvoy, Owner & Director
Victoria McEvoy, Owner and Director of utilitarian women’s and men’s shirts, tells entrepreneurs thinking about starting a business in 2022 that the perfect time for launch does not exist and to just go for it.
“Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you unveil it to the world. Jump online, sign up to Shopify, work with a good graphic designer and developer to get your website ready and launch. It will never be the right time, things will never be perfect and the nature of eCommerce is constantly evolving. Luckily, you can change things on the fly, add and improve things as you go. Just get in there and go.”
Single Use Ain’t Sexy – Josh Howard, CEO and Founder
When it comes to starting a business, Josh Howard, CEO and Founder of Single-Use Ain’t Sexy says, “Don’t waste time waiting for your idea to be everything and anything you ever dreamt it would be…that’ll never happen when you’re kicking things off.”
“Aim high, then aim higher – I am a big believer in lofty goals and world-changing ideas. Set those audacious goals and don’t stress if people respond with a chuckle. They might think you’re nuts until they don’t.”
Josh says the internet is a goldmine of video content that are great resource for aspiring entrepreneurs. He adds, “Jump on YouTube and teach yourself the basics of how to start a business. All the info is there, you just have to be curious enough to find it. It’s important not to get intimidated by the amount of information that’s available.”
Alternative Brewing – Sam Bjelke-Petersen, Co-Founder
Sam Bjelke-Petersen, Co-Founder of Alternative Brewing, there’s no need to strive for perfection, and it is important for entrepreneurs to come into the business with an open mind. Leverage the launch as a pilot to gauge how your offerings are received by customers.
“Feedback from your customers and getting a feel for your niche by actually seeing what’s selling and what’s not will be much more valuable than taking that extra month or two refining your products based on what you think the customer wants. Jump in, engage with your audience and see what valuable feedback you can pick up,” advises Sam.
Gearbunch – Dan Nikas, Owner
Dan Nikas, Owner of activewear brand Gearbunch tells entrepreneurs to stay involved in every process from the beginning – start from the bottom and work your way up. He says this includes, “Getting your email marketing written and plugged in before you launch the site. This way you will be catching every person that hits your site rather than letting them slip away. “
“When you build your site, stick with a basic Shopify template first and stay focused on the back end. With time, you will learn your way around Shopify, and from there, you can focus on optimising the website design,” he continues.
The final tip from Dan is to always reach out for help. He says, “There is a massive online community of business owners and Shopify users who love helping each other. I’m always asking for advice, plus I give it as well, through my youtube channel with email marketing tips & tricks, through our Facebook Group as well as answering as many DMs as I can.”
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