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Tina Fey once wrote “You can’t be the kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.” And with those two simple sentences, Fey captured one of humanity’s biggest fears: the unknown. And, while it’s a feeling that resonates well with everyone, it particularly resonates with those running their own business – especially as we begin planning for a new year.
From deciding to pursue a new business idea, to quitting your day job and focusing on what you used to call your “side project,” to scaling your offering, learning to hire well and taking your brand to the next level, there is a lot to consider. Will 2015 be my year? Will I lose it all? Will anyone care? Will it even matter?
“You can’t be the kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.
These questions aren’t the type that are answered once you launch your online store. No, they are the ones that keep everyone up at night – from the mom-and-pop shop down the street to Jeff Bezos himself.
That fear, though, doesn’t have to be a debilitating obstacle. Instead, it can serve a purpose and have a positive impact. As your adrenaline kicks in, your body begins to respond to these unknowns as stressors, allowing you to make quicker decisions based on the information at hand. It’s as if you are in the grasslands of Africa, being chased by a lion, analyzing every bush, tree and object you pass, combing it over for how you might best use it to save your life.
Comparing the management of your online store to being faced with life or death decisions might seem over the top, but as a business owner, your business is your baby and you want to set it up for success no matter the cost.
Your business is your baby and you want to set it up for success no matter the cost.
Today, the last day of December, take time to reflect on the past year, what you did well and where you can improve. Think through your SEO, your responsive design, your checkout experience. Are you killing it with amazing customer service? Are your social channels getting higher engagement than ever before? What is the low-hanging fruit for your business, and what are the longer term goals you can begin to act on early in the new year?
We caught up with four online store owners who are planning for 2015, getting their goals on paper and making sure that all the adrenaline pumping through their veins is used to out-pace or out-smart their competition and mitigate the fear of the unknown.
What are Your New Year’s Resolutions for 2015?
Diversify My Offering
“Expand with new product lines,” says Tiffany Burks, store owner at Tiffzippy.com. “Also, create a kick ass wholesale catalog and build out my email newsletter list.”
For stores looking to expand into new product offerings, consider a drop shipping option. This allows the ability for customers to increase their on-site purchases without having to increase your own inventory.
“Double revenue and conversion via targeted and tailored email automation and loyalty schemes that build social presence. I’m looking to take on the big brands,” says Adam Najak, store owner at The Towel Shop and Qtex.
Offering excellent customer service is a really great way to foster loyalty among your current customer base. Plus, a great customer service experience is more likely to lead a customer to recommend your store to their friends, which will increase conversion over time.
“The biggest goal looming in the back of my mind is to cast a wider net, advertising about who we are and what we do,” says Warren Dent, store owen at Zen Pro Audio. “I think we provide more real information and help than anybody in our market, but could do a better job at telling more people we exist. The good part is the real work of building up our audio and video examples of the gear we sell, as well as having a reputation of taking care of people well is already done and in place – so I feel it’s time to push awareness harder!”
Getting in the good graces of reporters and the press is a great PR strategy.
Getting your brand and product in front of customer eyeballs can often be the most difficult part to running an ecommerce site. Paid social media promotion and ads can help, as well as services like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) which source business owners for tips and advice, often citing you as a thought leader with a link back to your site. Getting in the good graces of reporters and the press is a great PR strategy. That way, they will share out your quotes to their audiences, pushing back views to your site without a high spend on your part.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
“My goal for my business in 2015 is pretty much this: make more money and spend less time doing it,” says Alan Poulton, store owner at Kuseno. “We’re approaching the end of our first full year in business and since we don’t have an actual storefront, we spent a lot of time (almost every weekend) at markets and fairs promoting our products. These events are costly, so if sales through the website increase, that would surely increase our profits.
I’m also considering getting our products into small stores either on consignment or wholesale. That’ll cut into our profits, but I won’t have to spend time selling. I have to research this path some more since we didn’t price with wholesale in mind initially.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with your ecommerce site. You just need to offer the utmost in customer experience.
More sales means more time in production since all of our products are made by hand. So my next goal is to find ways to make production more efficient. I have a couple of ideas in mind for this.”
Utilize third-party applications to help optimize your site for customer experience. Whether you choose to use a live chat option, data aggregator, social shopping app or more, cater to your particular audience with help from those who have already built a well oiled machine around a particular niche. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with your ecommerce site. You just need to offer the utmost in customer experience, while maintaining some semblance of work-life balance yourself.
What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2015? Drop them in the comments below as a pledge to keep at it, and we’ll check in from time to time to see how you’re doing and how we can help.
Happy New Year!
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