I found a really good blog post that was written by Kristin Trout, one of our clients. Ive asked her if I can share it in my newsletter, and she agreed. Keep in mind that we did not ask her to write about this, and she didnt even tell me that she wrote it. I randomly found it by using Google Alerts.
Here it is:
Im always amazed when people with full-time, professional careers tell me they want to put up a website to earn extra cash in their spare time, and then look to me for some directional advice. I dont even know how to begin the conversation, except to candidly spew out the hard-fast truths, so I say nothing except good luck with that.
While I admire the spirit of the American Dreamer, I myself am one, it hardly comes without at least some measure of scoffing or eye rolling from me. Putting up a website is such a prosaic statement. You are OPENING A BUSINESS. Do you even know what that means? Nothing about opening a business is part time and nothing about it should be approached so casually with the idea of earning extra cash. Think about it. When was the last time you got stellar results from a project you worked on by giving it your spare-time effort?
Ill go ahead and answer for you NEVER.
The average American Dreamer predictably makes the rookie mistake of buying into whatever piece of advertising garbage floats across his computer screen, or does a minimal amount of research before succumbing to someone elses sales jargon. Start a website in 24 hours! Traffic guaranteed! Earn money! Be wealthy! Lay on the beach with fruity drinks in 30 days while your business runs itself! Not even close. Our minds have an amazing capacity to ignore staple pieces of common sense information such as, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And in the case of putting up a website, you should run, not walk, in the opposite direction of anyone or any company that promises you fruity drinks in 30 days.
Opening a business whose marketplace is a global interface, aka an online business, is one of this decades biggest challenges for entrepreneurs because of the constantly changing and evolving climate of online business. The average Joe simply doesnt know what he doesnt know. Ignorance is NOT bliss! Ignorance is well, ignorance and will not make you or your business a success. Walking blindly into a business venture that could sink you and your family financially should not be approached without hundreds of hours of research and planning. And I did say hundreds. Your thinking, my website venture isnt going to sink me because Im only planning to invest $500 in it. You should take your $500 and go to a casino where I promise youll have a higher return on your investment.
A common misconception is that setting up an online business is somehow less work then a traditional brick and mortar. This idea couldnt be further from the truth and almost always elicits a knee jerk reaction from me, forcing me to bite my tongue.
Lets take Jane Entrepreneur for example. Jane is a full time working professional and earns $60k a year. That $60k a year barely pays the bills and Jane needs a second source of income. Janes a millennial and since she has been exposed to computer technology her whole life, she mistakenly feels confident in her ability to open and operate an ecommerce store. The problem is that Jane hasnt done her homework and has no idea what the hell shes doing and naively jumps in with both feet. Heres how it plays out for Jane.
Since Jane hasnt learned anything about ecommerce, she takes the bait from the first website promising the fruity drinks. She pays $500 for a domain and a template. Janes in business! Not hardly. It takes Jane about 10 minutes in the admin panel for her frustration to boil over. She realizes she doesnt understand ANYTHING and that her $500 didnt buy very much.
Since Jane works 8-10 hours a day at her real job, she quickly realizes she wont have time to build the website herself. Oh wait, she doesnt know how to do that. She needs someone to build out her entire website complete with inventory. She takes her hard-earned savings and blindly swipes her debit for $3000 knowing absolutely nothing about what she just bought or the company she bought it from. Excited about this decision, Jane put the project in the hands of a company who outsourced her project to India. A month later, the company delivers back to Jane a website complete with her inventory loaded. Janes in business!
Since Jane doesnt know anything about web development, she couldnt provide any guidance to the company about how to design or structure her website. She doesnt like the design, the logo, the colors, the navigation, the category organization, the product display, the checkout process, and the entire look and feel. Shes also wondering why there is absolutely no sales copy or text anywhere.
Jane doesnt even know where to start.
Shes $3500 invested, more confused as ever, and in way over her head. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg for Jane. She doesnt know the first thing about developing a website, much less getting traffic to it, if she can even manage to get past the first hurdle. And what happens if she does get traffic to it (and trust me, this will NOT happen on accident)? Jane works during the day. Whos going to answer the phone, process the orders, manage the orders, do the accounting, handle returns, deal with difficult customers, status checkers, order inventory, etc..? Her investment now owns her and she is forced to make it work or lose her $3500 investment.
How can Jane make it work? Jane needs to learn how to run a business before she tries to start one. Herein lies the problem with so many others like Jane. They dont see the big picture. Your website is only a platform to market your business. Your website is NOT your business, but rather a tool to market your business.
If youve made it this far in this blog post, you might be travelling down a path like Jane.
You can avoid being in the 50 percentile of first-year failed start-ups. Research supports that 46% of failed businesses fail because of INCOMPETENCE. Jane was incompetent.
You can avoid going down a similar path by taking the right steps that will set you and your business up for success instead of failure. You must read and study. Then read some more. Then when youre burned out on reading, go for a walk and come back and read something else relevant to what youre trying to do. Aside from Google searching, books on-tape are awesome, you can download them on audible.com and get through a lot of information quickly. Every business start-up should read the E-Myth Revisited, followed by Traction. That will be a great start for you.
When you get to the website part, forget all the garbage platforms promising fruity drinks and proceed directly to Shopping Cart Elite. I just saved you 30+ hours of research on shopping cart platforms. Not just the most advanced shopping cart platform on the market today, but you will learn from revered thought leader, Igor Soshkin, creator of Shopping Cart Elite. I can promise you that no other company will care about you, your business, your marketing plan, or ultimately your success. Shopping Cart Elite provides a true road map to success for your business, but its ultimately up to you to put the time in. And this is where those hundreds of hours come in. What Ive learned as a SCE client has not only changed the way our business thinks, strategizes, and implements, but its changed me personally, too.
Put the time in, do your homework, and level-up your incompetence so you can have the business you dream of having and eventually earn the right to those fruity drinks.