As I mentioned yesterday, this series is intended to help all readers follow my journey in regards to e-commerce (and other bits and pieces that support and augment e-commerce business). I started at the beginning yesterday (link to that post is HERE) and we will continue adding a running dialogue almost on a daily basis.
Over time, you will learn about all the tools I use, the tactics I use, the stores I operate, and marketing techniques I try whether or not they work. If you pay attention and ask questions, I am sure that you will be able to short-circuit the long process to success that many marketers have with e-commerce.
Today we will start at the beginning – getting started.
How To Get Started
The concept of an e-commerce business online seems simple. Throw up a store, get access to some products, add in a payment gateway like PayPal, and start making the money. Easy peasy, right? Well wait for a second, it MAY be a bit more involved than that…
Trust me, there is a LOT more…
Right now, I am operating 20 different websites and a lot more social accounts in my e-commerce, training, and affiliate efforts online. To keep it all going, right now I have 2 full-time independent contractors (VAs some would call them, or virtual assistants). It is quite a complex structure and continues to get more complicated.
Of course, I did not have this at the start of my e-commerce journey. I started with a single store, and over time, have added more and the other accounts as well to support the stores and other sites. It continues to be a work-in-progress, and I expect that will remain so as long as I am in the business.
Having The Right Mindset
This is something you have to be ready for. It requires a certain mindset or, as with affiliate marketing, when you do start getting frustrated that things are not going as well as you would like, you stick it out and persevere.
Most businesses are like that, by the way. I have owned or been a part owner of quite a few over the years, and having a can-do and won’t quit attitude is really important. Of course, you are going to run into problems, obstacles…It is part of the business game.
Embrace the suck is what we used to say in the Army. It means that sometimes things are not going to be as nice as you would like to have them be. Deal with it, work through those situations, have the self-confidence in yourself and your people, and do not give up, no matter what happens.
Okay, now that we know what it takes with your attitude, we can move on to some of the nuts and bolts of getting your e-commerce business up and running.
What Kind of Personal Traits and Habits Do You Need?
Just having the right mindset is not going to be enough. You are also going to have to look at your personal habits to make sure that your efforts will not be in vain as you start with your e-commerce journey. Over many years, for any business or any endeavor really, I have found it helps to analyze yourself.
Figure out what you like and what you do not, look at the way you spend your day, look at your work habits – are you a self-starter, do you like to take on new challenges, how many hours a day do you like to work, what makes you excited and motivated?
These type questions will help you figure out what blocks that you may lay on yourself as you get started. Are you a procrastinator by nature? When are the best hours of the day for you to work? Are there periods when you are not as productive?
From my over 3 years of online experience to now, I have seen more similarities than differences in what it takes to be successful – the online and offline jobs and businesses I have been involved in all share some common personality traits, skills, and attitude.
It really comes down to this:
(1) Being Process-Oriented.
The most successful entrepreneurs (this is what you are, whether you realize it or not) are process-oriented. They are looking for ways to first set up systems, then looking for ways to automate the systems and make them operate more efficiently.
(2) Tenacity and Consistent Effort.
Once they have something that works for them, they stick with it. They will modify the systems they come up with as tweaks may help the systems work better, but once in place, they follow the system or process on a regular basis. This is important.
Having a consistency of effort and a planned focus for that effort is going to allow you to have much more success. Staying focused and have the internal fortitude to do what you know has to be done on a regular basis is going to allow you to get a lot more accomplished.
(3) After Action Reviews and Corrections based on Findings.
Successful e-commerce business operators will constantly be checking on all aspects of their business. From products to images, landing pages to checkout pages, ads to retargeting, and customer service and list-building, each and every point of the operation must be monitored, evaluated, and improved upon…
(4) Be Yourself.
You can look at what others are doing in the niches you choose to pursue, and see what they are doing that works or not, and perhaps adopt some of the traits for yourself, but at the end of the day, it is best to be who you are.
You are unique, there is no one else like you, and as such, you have something to offer that no one else has: Your personal experiences, knowledge, drive, dreams, and humor. Rather than trying to be what you are not, leverage who you are to make a statement to those around you and to your customers.
It is hard trying to be someone you are not, and most of the time it will not work. At some point the dissonance will cause you to crash and burn. I have seen it many times in many fields of work. This truth holds true for almost any line of work or effort you undertake.
(5) Learning Is A Constant.
You may be like me, with a bunch of degrees and diplomas hanging around the walls of your office, and perhaps like me, you have a bunch of years of work experiences, doing different things. Does that mean that you no longer need to learn anything?
In a word: NO! Especially in the online marketing business, and this includes e-commerce, there is ALWAYS something new to learn. This may be uncomfortable for some people, I am sure this is the case. But if it is you, I would recommend finding a day job that may not require this. You will need to be open to learning with an e-commerce business.
There are more, and over time we will discuss as appropriate, but just know that taking the time to do a self-examination so you know what your attitude, your work habits, your likes and dislikes, and what you really want are.
This makes the e-commerce journey much easier to navigate through. Incidentally, this is the exact process I went through. I am not taking this out of some school textbook, it is something I feel quite comfortable talking about.
So what’s next?
Which Market Segment Should You Pursue?
When it comes to e-Commerce, realize that the word is a very general term as affiliate marketing is. It can involve many different kinds of selling online. You can sell books on your own site or through Kindle/Amazon, you can create training products on e-commerce and teach people how to do the business, or you can provide services to e-commerce businesses, etc.
The possibilities are almost endless! So what is right for you? That is a hard one to decide, but I have a tool that may help you a bit – it is called mind-mapping, and you do not need to buy any fancy software or service to use it!
Using Mind Maps
A while back I did a post on Wealthy Affiliate, wherein I explain what it is and how to use it for your own business. Unless you are very sure of what you want to do and the exact means of how you will do it, going through a mind-mapping exercise will be helpful for you…
You can determine all the pluses and minuses of what it is you are trying to figure out, as the mind map process allows you to use free-thinking mixed with graphics along with the actual process of writing down your thoughts connecting things through colors, arrows, lines, bolding of main points, etc.
At the end of the exercise, you have a literal map of your entire thoughts and problems for whatever it is that you are trying to figure out. I love them and have been using them for over 40 years – they still work today, and although there are programs that make the process more automated, there is something to be said for the old paper and pencil method…
The link for that training on Wealthy Affiliate is here -> Daves Mind Mapping Explanation
I have some additional training right here on this website too that may help you -> Mind Maps – How to Create One Easily
To get you started, here are just a few segments of e-commerce you can choose to pursue:
- Drop Shipping
- Sell your own products
- Sell digital products (i.e. books)
- Sell services (video, ads, bots, apps, etc.)
Any of these will work, and there are more. Do a Google search and see what interests you. See what the competition is doing for your interests and see if there are enough members of a niche that want to buy what you want to sell.
Check out what niche members are saying on related Facebook Groups or other forums (i.e. Reddit), see what the sales numbers look like, see what is selling, and write down any problems that people may be having in the niche.
While you are doing all this research, take notes. Organize them so you can find the information and evaluate it when you do your mind map. Make sure that whatever niche or market segment you select is one that you will be able to maintain an interest in over the long haul. This business is all about the long haul, you want to build something that can go and grow…
My Experiences With Mind Mapping and Note-Taking…
Over the past three and one-half years, I have used mind-mapping likely 40-50 times. It is closely related to my daily notebook diary that I use. Literally. I have a total of twenty 1-inch thick bound notebooks that are full of notes.
If you would peruse these from volume I through XX, you would see the exact process, the problems, the successes, the contacts, the ideas, the solutions, my thoughts and so on from day one. This has proven to work for me for over 40 years.
There is something about actually doing the writing and highlighting, underscoring, and so on that helps to make the information sink in. There is some science behind why this is so effective, but just try it, you can see for yourself…
It is much the same with mind maps. These are fluid, they can be amended at any time, they can serve as a reference point for you, they can be posted in front of your work area so you can refer back to them regularly, and they provide a one-page view of where you are going.
It is almost like a quick business plan, but they are not nearly as formal and do not take nearly as long to complete. Your purpose, desired outcomes, and a path to achieve these are there for you. The best thing is, they are for you personally, no need to share them with the world (unless you want to).
Deliverables from Your Mind-Mapping Exercises…
Now that you have a clear mind on what your abilities and aspirations are, you understand how you will get there and what will be required of you to have success, you are ready to move on to the next steps…
I went through all of this and I am following my own mind map. That mind map has changed over the years, but the end-goal(s) are pretty much the same…
That mind map and the copious notes have helped me remain focused and determined to achieve success. It can do the same for you when you follow this process or something similar.
So these daily journey entries do not get too long, I am breaking them up into smaller bites. This is just about enough for today I think. I hope I have given you some food for thought and some ideas of how I got ready and how you can get ready for your e-commerce adventure!
Conclusion for Today…
Today we covered a few subjects: Mindset, Personality Traits and Behaviors, Mind-Mapping and Notetaking, and finally using all this data and more research to select a niche for your e-commerce business. This is a lot to cover, and if done thoroughly, this all will take a few days…
When I started my e-commerce business, I took the time to take these initial steps, and the result was that my venture went much more smoothly than it could have. It may not have lessened the workload, but it helped make sure that the work was leading me in the direction I wanted to go, as opposed to just flopping around from one thing to another…
This can be the same for you…Please add in your thoughts and questions below, always good to hear from others, whether it involves experiences, queries, or ideas on how better to get a solid start with a viable e-commerce business!
Dave : )