Starting an e-commerce business is more simple than most women think. Whether you’re considering starting a business from scratch, moving your brick-and-mortar store online, or transitioning a pop-up shop online, the options for selling online seem to be unlimited. The abundance of customers, platforms and products can cause great excitement, but also great confusion to a new online entrepreneur.
In the last three years of owning an e-commerce business, I’ve watched friends make millions in months, quit their nine-to-five jobs, and experience a life that otherwise would have never been available to them. I’ve also seen women become so overwhelmed with decision fatigue that they quickly gave up on their dream. After meeting hundreds of women, growing an e-commerce following of thousands on my Instagram page, and listening to all of their stories, I’ve seen these common mistakes play out over and over again.
Mistake No. 1: If you build it, they will come.
You picked out an amazing product, built the website of your dreams, and curated a beautiful Instagram page. On launch day, you hit “live” with excitement, just to hear crickets. Many people believe that once they build a website, sales will start flowing in. Don’t be surprised if on the day you “go live,” the only order you get is from your mom and sister. When you first launch your website or idea into the world, you need to drive traffic to it. It’s a slow start, and that can get discouraging for new e-commerce sellers. Just like people wander into a brick-and-mortar store, you might have some customers hop onto your website. Start driving traffic, work at finding new customers, and if you can endure, it will happen.
Mistake No. 2: Done is better than perfect.
You might feel tempted to perfect every detail before showing your business to the world — e.g., overthinking the colors, the logo and product descriptions. The biggest excuse for not starting is “I’m a perfectionist.” Well, sister, your perfection isn’t making you money. Many e-commerce store owners take way too long to “launch” their product and begin their business. Throwing an ugly first copy of something out into the world is better than waiting for it to be right and never sharing your gift with anyone. One of my mentors told me once that if the first thing I put into the world was pretty, I waited too long to share it.
Don’t be afraid to share your ugly first draft. It can only get better from there. You don’t have to have perfect images, a beautiful website, or even know what you’re doing to start. Just start and you can figure it out along the way. I had a terrible website, ugly images, and no clue what I was doing when my business did its first six figures in sales. Wouldn’t you rather make money than look perfect?
Mistake No. 3: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
One of my most frequently asked questions is, “How do I pick a product?” My advice: pick something you don’t mind looking at every day because no matter what you sell, at some point you’re going to get sick of looking at it. But really, you can sell anything. I own a jewelry store. Do you know how many jewelry stores exist in the world? If I would have thought, “Oh, I can’t sell jewelry, Tiffany’s sells jewelry,” then the world would have never had the opportunity to see my take on jewelry at Starlette Galleria.
It’s OK to sell a product or service that other people provide. One of my good friends also owns an online jewelry store. We even use some of the same vendors and somehow end up with completely different brands and products. At the end of the day, your unique perspective will make all the difference. Pick something and stick with it.
As you start to navigate e-commerce, you’ll be presented with thousands of options. The most successful e-commerce business owners pick a platform, a product, a niche — and then they stick to them. The truth is, your ability to make a decision and follow through is what will make you a successful e-commerce seller. I’ve done over half-a-million dollars in sales from my home-based e-commerce business, and the only unique ability I have is to stay focused on one thing at a time and persevere when others would have stopped.