In 2018 I was swimming in debt and struggling to make mortgage payments. I was 28 years old with a toddler on my hip and a dead-end corporate job. It was in this moment of pure desperation that I launched my first e-commerce business. An entrepreneur is not born when life is good. An entrepreneur is born when they have hit rock bottom. Suddenly, I was given two options: sink or swim. I swam like my life depended on it. Because in all honesty, it did. While working 40-50 hours in my corporate career, I was also pulling all-nighters and early mornings to start a business that most of my family and friends did not know about. By June of 2019, my business took off. I had done over 6 figures in sales, and everyone was calling me an overnight success. Fast forward to today, and I can see the three mistakes that held me back from being the overnight success I had hoped to be.
Mistake #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. It’s a slow start, and that can get discouraging for new e-commerce sellers. Just like people wander into a brick and mortar, you might have some customers hop on to your website. Start driving traffic, work at finding new customers, and if you can endure, it will happen.
Mistake #2 – Done is better than perfect.
You might feel tempted to perfect every detail before showing your business to the world. Overthinking the colors, the logo, and product descriptions. The biggest excuse for not starting is “I’m a perfectionist”. Well, sister, your perfection is not 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 are 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 #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 are 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 I look back on where I was in 2018 to where I am today, I am so thankful for that young and scared mama that took a chance on herself. I persevered when others would have quit. I took the risk, accepted the challenge, and worked while they all slept. As an entrepreneur and CEO, our biggest issues are between our own two ears. Put down your doubt, perfectionism, and self-criticisms in business and push forward. It’s never easy but always worth it.
Written by Olivia Starling.
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