Time for E-Commerce Entrepreneurs

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This is a Guest blog post from Andre Averbug. See below for more info about Andre.

Launching an online business, or e-commerce, has never been easier than in the past ten years. There are fantastic resources available that allow for the seamless development and operation of e-stores. For example, in 2017, working only nights and weekends, I was able to launch an online shop for apparel and accessories in just a couple of months. And today, given the COVID pandemic, with the difficult job market and the need for social distancing, e-commerce has become particularly opportune. It is a great time to be your own boss and become an e-commerce entrepreneur. 

Setting up an e-commerce doesn’t require technical skills. I had never coded or designed a website. Still, I was able to set up my e-store completely on my own. Platforms such as ShopifyBigCommerce and Wix provide you with the complete toolbox needed for your e-commerce, including awesomely designed templates, integrated payment methods, SEO best practices, storage, analytics and much more. To develop your website, they operate intuitively and all you need to do is tick boxes and drag-and-drop sections and images. They also integrate with several useful management apps, which help you with marketing, CRM, logistics and all other aspects of running the business. Finally – and very importantly – these platforms are quite affordable, with plans starting as low as $10 per month.

In terms of supply chain – assuming you will be selling physical products – our lives have also been made easier by fulfillment and drop-shipping companies, like PrintfulSPOD and CustomCat. Through these, you can automate the supply management of the business, from sourcing and production to distribution. Not only that, but depending on what you sell, you can set up your business with no overhead or inventory costs and have your products be manufactured and shipped on demand, one by one, as orders come in.

The beauty is that what’s left is what the majority of entrepreneurs would consider to be the most pleasant side of any business: value proposition, strategic positioning, product-market fit and design, marketing, and customer relationship. In my case, for the most part, I developed the business concept and worked on the strategy and marketing. My partner, who was a fantastic artist, took care of product designs. Other parts of the business, from video animations, to product copy and press releases, were outsourced to freelancers from websites such as Fiverr and Upwork.

Finally, there are plenty of free resources out there to help you refine your idea and assist you in running a successful e-business. For example, pick a few e-commerce podcasts to listen to, such as Shopify Masters and Ecommerce Fuel. Read relevant blogs such as Digital MarketerGet Elastic and Practical Ecommerce. This article on customer value optimization (CVO) is a great place to start thinking about your business.

If you have a workable idea for a product or service to sell online, this is the time to pursue your startup dream. Let’s get to work!

Andre portrait

Andre Averbug is an entrepreneur, economist, and writer. He has over two decades of international experience working in the intersection of economic development, entrepreneurship, and innovation. He has worked and lived in multiple countries across North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Central Asia.

Andre has started and run four startups, in Brazil and the US, and was awarded Global Innovator of the Year in 2009 by World Bank’s infoDev. He has extensive experience supporting companies as mentor and consultant, both independently and as part of incubators such as 1776 and the Kosmos Innovation Center, and programs like Shell LIVEWire, StartUp Weekend and WeXchange.

As an economist, Andre has worked in topics ranging from innovation ecosystems, entrepreneurship and MSME development policy, competitiveness, business climate, infrastructure finance, monitoring and evaluation (M&E), and country assistance strategy for the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES). He has also consulted for clients such as DAI Global, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), TechnoServe, among many others. He holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of London (UK) and an MBA from McGill University (Canada). Andre lives in the Washington, DC area.

He writes an awesome Blog called Entrepreneurship Compass and you can sign up here: https://entrepreneurshipcompass.com

Mark Cuban’s Beatitudes: 7 Factors for Startup Success

This is a Guest blog post from Ines LeBow.

Mark Cuban’s Beatitudes: 7 Factors for Startup Success

Shark Tank star Mark Cuban has been a startup investor and serial entrepreneur since his teenage years selling garbage bags, creating chain letters, offering dance lessons, and even running newspapers from Cleveland to Pittsburgh during a strike of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mr. Cuban is ranked #177 on the Forbes 400 list for 2020 with an estimated $4.3B in net worth.

Anyone who has listened to Mark knows that he has a lot to say and has very strong opinions on many topics. My goal here is to summarize how to be successful in business, especially for entrepreneurs in the startup arena. I’ve distilled Mark’s approach down to 7 key factors.

Be Passionate

Passion is at the core of everything in business, especially a startup business. Our passion will dictate the energy we bring to our work and will transmit our excitement to prospective customers, vendors, and partners.

“Love what you do or don’t do it.”

Be Ready

The ideal time is now, according to Mark Cuban. You need to always be moving forward in a tangible way to achieve your business and startup goals. You’ll always have doubts and the world will always put doubters in your path to throw up obstacles, to hurt your confidence, and to smother your passion. Don’t let them stop you, and don’t let changing circumstances keep you from doing it now (see “Now’s the Time to Get Your Business Funded: Coronavirus Edition”).

“Always wake up with a smile knowing that today you are going to have fun accomplishing what others are too afraid to do.”

Be Bold

Dictionary.com defines bold as “not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger…courageous and daring…beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative.” For a startup to be successful, an entrepreneur must be bold but not blind. They must have a clear understanding of what they are doing and why as well as what they’re strengths and weaknesses are. You really aren’t bold or courageous if you don’t recognize the challenges or dangers that you need to overcome to succeed. See my recent article on being bold in getting investor funding (“How Far Will You Go to Get Your Business Funded?”).

“It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve failed. You only have to be right once.”

Be Knowledgeable

Knowing the business, the market, the players, the customers and their sentiments are all essential to being prepared to succeed in a startup business. Whether you need to convince Angels or PE/VC investors to fund your business or you are bootstrapping it, you need to know what it will take to win. Without this knowledge you have almost no chance to succeed. By the way, as your business grows and the market changes, you need to continually upgrade your knowledge to improve what you do and how you do it.

“Because if you’re prepared and you know what it takes, it’s not a risk. You just have to figure out how to get there. There is always a way to get there.”

Be Honest

Entrepreneurs who lie to themselves about their products, services, competitors, customers, and market conditions aren’t going to be in business very long. Don’t just make assumptions but deal in facts. If you’ve already formed assumptions, work hard to validate or invalidate them so you can prepare a genuine SWOT analysis. This will help you launch the business and bring the right product to market at the proper place and price with the proper message.

“One problem people have is that they lie to themselves…rarely is talent enough. You have to find ways to make yourself standout. You do so by playing to your strengths and making people aware of those strengths.”

Be Humble

Every startup entrepreneur wants to believe that their product or service has never been done before, but the ones who proceed with that mindset are inviting peril. Be a student of history. One of the first things you learn is that humankind doesn’t learn from history because we keep repeating the same mistakes. Humility will make you realize that somebody somewhere has probably tried this before. Do your research…and not just a quick Google search. Find out who tried and how they failed. Use their experience to learn the hard lessons without suffering the personal setbacks.

“One thing we can all control is effort. Put in the time to become an expert in whatever you’re doing.”

Be Unique

While your product or service may not be completely new, you need to make at least one aspect of it your own. Consider what characteristics you bring to the product, to how or to whom it is marketed, or how it is delivered to differentiate yourself from your competitors. If you try to be the same, you have no basis other than price on which to compete, and someone newer and cheaper can easily come along to take your market away from you.

“Creating opportunities means looking where others are not.”

“When you’ve got 10,000 people trying to do the same thing, why would you want to be number 10,001?”

“Success is about making your life a special version of unique that fits who you are – not what other people want you to be.”

If you aggressively pursue these 7 areas, your chances of startup success increase dramatically. What are you waiting for? As Mark Cuban says, the perfect time is now.

To learn more on how to stand out with an epic fundraising story, contact me for a complimentary consultation by phone at 314-578-0958 or by email at ilebow@transformationsolutions.pro. You find her on LinkedIn Profile at www.linkedin.com/in/ineslebow or her ETS website at www.transformationsolutions.pro.