Starting a business is exciting and nerve-wracking. It will be one of the biggest investments you'll make during your lifetime. Not just financially, but emotionally as well. Doing it right will mean taking on a lot of responsibilities and making a lot of sacrifices. It will also mean working harder than you ever have before.
For these reasons, business ownership is not for everyone. If you don't have the right skills, personality, and commitment to operate a business, you'll be in trouble before you make your first sale. So before you begin planning your E-Commerce business, you need to take a hard look at yourself, your family, and your finances, and give honest answers to some very important questions.
The following questions will help you weigh your personal characteristics and beliefs against the realities of business ownership. Don't worry if you find that a few of the questions reveal doubts or weaknesses. Nobody is a perfect match for any profession. But if you find many of the questions troubling, you may want to rethink your decision to go into business.
1) Are you willing to take the responsibilities of operating your own business?
Forget the tidy little set of responsibilities that came with a position in corporate life. When you run a business, you're in charge of everything--from opening the doors in the morning to cleaning up at night. Then when you go home, you worry.
The hours are long, there is a high degree of stress, and there is always too much to do and not enough time to do it. You'll have to deal with your customers and your employees. You'll be responsible for the finances of the business and dealing with taxes. And you'll need to fill out a lot of forms and sign a lot of checks.
Make sure you understand what you're getting into. As a business owner, you'll have more responsibilities than you have had before, no matter what your previous jobs have been. If you understand this simple fact, you'll be ready to take your responsibilities on.
2) Are you comfortable making hard decisions?
As the owner of a business, you'll also have to make many decisions that affect the business, your livelihood, and that of your employees. Many times thev/11 is tough to make, including the decision to lay people off if your business falls on hard times. It will require decisiveness, mental toughness, and resolve. If you have trouble when faced with tough choices, this could be a problem area.
3) Do you think owning your own business is the road to easy money?
Think again. Many people actually end up sacrificing income to open their businesses, at least at first. That's the price they're willing to pay for independence.
If you're thinking of giving up a promising career and a lucrative income to start your business, be realistic about what your financial needs are and whether or not the business will meet those needs. Remember, you're building a business.
It may take you a number of years to get to the income level you want or need. On the other hand, you may decide that you're willing to sacrifice some money for the reward of being your own boss. Many people have found it to be worth every penny.
4) Are you starting a business out of desperation?
This is a very real concern, particularly in light of the huge number of experienced businessmen and businesswomen who have been cast adrift in the job market through corporate downsizing in recent years. If you're one of these people and are thinking about starting a business because you think it's your only option, be very careful. Yes, it can be the answer to your future security, but only if you're willing to make the necessary commitments and sacrifices. The world of business ownership is vastly different from the corporate world. Make sure you recognize the differences before you make the move.
5) Are you well organized?
The day-to-day operation of your business is going to require you to assume many responsibilities. Let's consider an average day. You may need to do the payroll, talk to suppliers, pay a few bills, work on a new advertising pamphlet, and prepare some tax forms. At the same time you'll be filling orders and making sure they get sent out on time. Then there is always the unexpected--your computer bombs or the air-conditioning conks out.
As a business owner, you'll need to keep many balls in the air at one time. Your ability to juggle all these responsibilities will directly affect your success. If you're well organized, you'll have a list of the things you need to do, and you'll methodically go through it during the course of the day. If you're interrupted, you'll pick up where you left off after you have dealt with the problem. If you're still not through at the end of the day, you'll sit there and work until you have finished. Procrastinators do not do well in business. If you get behind, you're sunk.
6) Are you creative?
It's an asset to any business. No matter how great your product, you're not going to be the only one selling it. Marketing and advertising are critical to getting customers' attention and encouraging them to buy. If you have a creative streak--whether it be copywriting, graphic design, or even an offbeat sense of humor--it will be an invaluable asset to your business.
His is doubly true in e-commerce. Since your customers can't see the items they're purchasing "in the flesh," so to speak, they need to be enticed by the visual presentation and written description in your promotional materials.
7) Are you flexible?
In business, if an idea or plan doesn't work, you can't let yourself waste time, energy, and emotion bemoaning its failure. You need to quickly come up with an alternative solution. Flexibility and adaptability are the key. You'll need to stay focused to achieve your goal, but you may need to try several different paths to get there.
In e-commerce order, for example, one marketing approach may work for a while and then stall. At that point you'll need to come up with something new. Remember, every business plan and every business
Can benefit from a fresh look every once in a while, even when things seem to be going along just fine.
8) Are you goal oriented?
This trait is obviously helpful in all parts of life, but it's particularly helpful in business. As a business owner, your goals will be defined in very simple, concrete terms--gross sales and net profit.
A good businessperson approaches each year with new goals and uses them as motivating forces throughout the year. Let's say gross sales for your first year of operation were $500,000 and your net profit was $ 100,000. For the following year, you might set as your goal a 20 percent increase, or $ 600,000and $ 120,000. Achieving or surpassing those figures will drive you day after day.
Goal-oriented people also plan for the future. Eventually, you may want to expand your product selection and your target market. You'll have a long-term plan that includes the timing of your expansion and what every aspect of your business will do to accommodate increased volume.
9) Are you an optimist?
Having the right mental attitude is important for every aspect of life. When you run into hard times, keeping an upbeat attitude and looking for the positive side of things is critical to riding out the storm.
This is particularly true in business. By nature, it's a trip with peaks and valleys. For instance, the hardest time for any business is the first year or two. You may spend months getting things ready to go, carefully selecting the merchandise you'll carry, and getting your advertising strategy together. Then you'll send out your first e-mailing and wait anxiously for the phone to begin ringing off the hook and your mailbox to be jammed with orders.
But nothing happens. Maybe a few orders trickle in, or you get some phone calls with questions about certain items. This isn't unusual, but even knowing that, you'll still worry. If you're the type of person who gets down when things don't quite go the way you would like, you might have trouble with the roller coaster ride that any business will take you on. Keeping a positive mental attitude is essential to weathering the bad times and working hard to make the good ones arrive that much sooner.
10) Have you experience you can use in running the business?
If you have, it will make learning the business a lot easier. Experience in sales, accounting, advertising, marketing, personnel management, taxes, or any other business-related.
Responsibility is a definite plus for a potential business owner.
Experience with computers is mandatory since in e-commerce of course computers are your lifeblood.
You have to have hands on experience with computers both hardware and software and not be intimidated by computer experts and geeks but rather be able to work with these often eccentric individuals who command often unique skills.
11) Do you enjoy working with people?
One of the painful realities of being in retail is the fact that the customer is always right. Granted, running an E-Commerce business distances you from your customers in the sense that there is rarely face-to-face contact. But that doesn't mean you don't owe them the same service and courtesy you would if they were standing right in front of you.