Many people dream of starting a business, particularly one where success can enable a family-friendly blend of lifestyle and profit. And the good news is that the internet provides a huge opportunity to achieve this, for those who have the necessary skills, perseverance and the odd slice of good fortune.
Successful businesses tend to be good at one thing. They focus on a range of products that appeal to a specific group of potential customers and then they capitalise on it. If you are a mum-, or dad-preneur, then you have to do all of this whilst satisfying the demands of your children. This is hard to do, even when you don’t have a family in tow. Hopefully the following advices will help:
Do your homework
The more you know, the better decisions you will make. When starting off, look out for articles about ecommerce in the press, attend a trade show or two, and talk to people who are selling online already.
Perfect your offering
Empathise with customers. You need to provide them something that they believe will offer more value than the amount they pay, and which you can supply at a profit. It’s as simple (and difficult) as that. Try out your ideas on friends and family.
The less you spend on technology, the more you can afford to spend on promoting your site and bringing in customers. So if you are just starting up, look for a solution that provides what you need today and don’t worry too much about the future.
Marketing is everything
You need to think about how customers are going to find you online.
Optimise your site for search engines: Search engines are the number one source of new website visitors, so it’s worth investing some time in learning about them.
Use pay-per-click (PPC) marketing: Search engines allow advertisements to be placed within results. It’s worth the effort of learning how to use this effectively.
Use forums, blogs and social media: People love discussing things online in forums, blogs and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Get in there.
Use marketplaces: Test out your ideas on eBay and Amazon where customers are expensive, but easy to find.
Family comes first
Running a business is both great fun and highly challenging, but your family is more important. It’s not possible to have it all, so make sure you make decisions carefully. And if at first you fail, don’t become discouraged. Most successful entrepreneurs have flops; they learn from them and succeed next time.
Helen Beer of QualitySilver (www.qualitysilver.co.uk) shows how motherhood needn’t stop women making good money. Since the birth of her son, Callum, she has grown her online store and now makes over twice as much as she took home from her job. Helen’s advice for surviving business and family demands is:
- Be organised, make a plan and stick to a routine
- Find a niche in the marketplace
- Sell what you know about
- Good customer service is a must
- Keep an eye on your competitors.
About the author
Chris Barling is chairman of ecommerce software supplier, SellerDeck (formerly Actinic Software), a company he co-founded in 1996. Over these 17 years Chris has written hundreds of articles on selling online for a large range of small business magazines and websites. He has also published three books on ecommerce. www.sellerdeck.co.uk