Едно от първите неща, които научих за eBay беше, че колкото повече предмети качваш, толкова повече продажби правиш. Е, не точно. Разбира се, има значение какво и колко качваш. След разговорите си с множество селъри някои от най-често срещаните грешки на новите търговци са:
…или как да избера по кой път да поема в изобилието от възможности
Миналата нова година с Велизар Величков и компания бяхме във Виена.
Пътувахме повече от 10 часа, за да стигнем до там. В хотелските стаи играехме на познай филма с жестове. Беше забавно, настроението беше приповдигнато. Както често се случва, бизнесът не излизаше от главата ми.
Като продължение от 1-ва статия ще разкрия още малко от тайните на успешната Коледа.
За да придобиeш представа, колко пари се харчат по Коледа, ще ти дам един пример. Има пет големи дни в онлайн търговията, за които се харчат много пари. Накрато- това са Halloween, Великден, Свети Валентин, Денят на майката/респективно – бащата. Тези 5 дни, комбинирано правят по-малък оборот от Коледа. Данните от различни проучвания показват, че в периода между 15-ти Ноември и 24-ти Декември, Американците харчат над 300 милиарда долара. Средно за около 360 000 000 души в US (включително имигрантите) се падат по около 830$ покупки на човек.
…какво да правим по Коледните празници и как да се подготвим за битката на годината
Идва един от най-светлите Християнски празници – Коледа. Казват, че човек е станал възрастен тогава, когато на Коледа е на минус, а не на плюс. Това разбира се, не важи за нас – онлайн търговците. Ние винаги сме на плюс…
… освен когато не сме.
Най-доходоностният период от годината вече е тук. Периодът от
Ноември до средата на Януари, често носи на търговците повече приходи, отколкото 9-те месеца преди тях. И докато децата вече мислят писма с желания, ние мислим как да изпратим играчките до тях (а понякога и от къде).
… или как да му угодим на Cassini, да се смили над нашите листинги
Качваш листинги, сваляш други, пробваш с различни предмети, доставчици и ниши. Понякога продажбите просто не вървят. Колкото и да се опитваш, сякаш eBay ни обръща гръб и изобщо не вижда усилията, които се полагаш. А толкова се стараеш! Изглежда сякаш „няма логика, всичко правя както трябва“. Ако някога си се изпитвал това чувство в себе си, следващите редове са за теб.
Макар да се чува, че много търговци са преустановили дейност в eBay, репортът за 3-тото тримесечие на 2016-та показва оборот от
1 719 000 000 щатски долара. Този милиард и седемстотин хиляди долара разбира се е до толкова важен, до колкото ние можем да го сравним с резултатите за предишен период. За същия период през 2015-та година eBay имат 53 милиона по-малко печалба. Това означаава само едно.
Последно актуализирана на 4.Март.2018
Ясно помня момента, когато започнах да се занимавам с дропшипинг. Това беше третият ми онлайн бизнес. Имах ясната цел да го направя голям. Бях сигурен, че този път ще е по-лесно от миналите ми бизнеси. Continue reading “Защо да стартирам онлайн бизнес с eBay?”
You can see part I – here.
Mistake #4 – You rely on that you are going to be the first
“Every business model that could be copied, will be copied”
You may rely on that you are going to be the first who came up with this idea. This might help you if you are Mark Zuckerberg, but if you are not I have to warn you. There are thousands of people out there with deep pockets, who are looking for the next Facebook. And if you create something, at least a bit successful, you will catch their attention. And they will be wanting either buying you or … …hiring other people to do the same thing, as you do. “It is not fair!” – You may say, but this is the way the world work and the competition is here to stay. Is something good for us all and you have to be smart to put yourself in a good comfortable and winning position.
If everything could be copied, then how should we protect our business?
If you are developing a new product, for example, you may want to do a patent of your technology, design or other possible parts from it.
It is a good idea also if you trademark your name or brand for a little amount of money (depending on where you live).
The above methods may work, but my personal favorite is having something that people can’t buy. It should be difficult to achieve. Few things are coming in this category:
a) Unique skills
This might be the unique skill set your crew has. If you have an excellent and healthy relationship with the manufacturer/supplier of your product.
b) Unique relationship
For example, your supplier/manufacturer could give you a 50% percentage off for your orders, whereas if someone “new” asks for the pricing of the same products, he might get only 10%.
c) Insider information
You can also have an insider information for certain market or needs, which could boost your score. This is mostly used for stock markets.
d) Have authority
This is the most time-consuming way. If you are now starting, having an authority won’t help you right away. You will need to establish yourself on the market as a knowledgeable, responsible and valuable company. The relationships that you create will give you credibility and bring you more customers. The goal here is getting so famous with your brand that everybody is asking for you and you are defining the standards. Examples for these are brands like Ferodo and Pampers.
Mistake #5 – Targeting everyone!
I’m often asking – who is your target? And getting the following answer:
“well, everyone can use this product/service”
I know it is hard to define who would be your perfect customer but is very important. Is it black, white, man, woman, kid? What language does he or she speak? Are they using slang? What are their habits? Where do they eat? What places do they go to? Do they like more bars on restaurants for example? What is their age? Are they young or just before their retirement?
How do you understand all of these? Get data! You need data. Once you have a landing page or other form of validation, track who is saying “yes”. You may have a hypothesis who your perfect customer is, but see if you are right.
As we were building www.mengear.bg with Kaloyan, we were sure, that we are targeting boys. Geeks, people who play video games and watch the latest TV series. We were expecting like 80% man and 20% women distribution. Well, this is not what our friend Google Analytics say:
We were wrong. Most of our visitors are females. And I can tell you, that the higher percentage of our customers are also women. So thank you women! You are great!
Why is this important? It is because all of your texts, images, backgrounds, customer service and products should look appealing for your target group. So, no. You can’t target anyone. Even Coca-Cola are not doing this.
Mistake #6 –Scaling too early
Having sales already? Thinking of scaling up your business? Sounds great, but here is what you should look at. Don’t hire too early. You need to make sure that you are doing a significant amount of money. As a rule of thumb, I would say at least 2 times the salary of your first employee. And also, check if you can put some more time and effort from your side, before hiring. If you are still able to, then get back to work, pump up the revenue and see what happens. It is a common mistake that people are outsourcing their work, before even knowing best practices. How can you teach someone to do something, if you don’t know this yourself? In the most cases, you can’t. When your business grows up you can buy them courses, books or trainings. In the beginning you would need to know what the best processes are and what is taking vital time of your/your employees work, but not bringing any ROI (Return On Investment). Drop those tasks.
Mistake #7 – Selling the wrong thing.
You may have heard – I will buy me a car, a laptop, a new smartphone, a vacation ticket. And my previous not-so-well educated me often imagined that the people are really wanting to physically possess these things. Well, no. This is not the case. People want to buy freedom with the car, maybe also the feeling of acceleration, the adrenaline while hitting the corners with full gas, the respect of other people with the luxury car. Take the smartphone for example. People are buying the ability calling their friends and family, the ease of use accessing their favorite social network or their productivity apps. It is the same for everything we own.
Mistake #8 – Not using the Lean Startup Canvas
A great tool to have an overview of your business model is either the Lean Startup Canvas or the Business model canvas. Personally, I prefer the Lean canvas, as an activist of the Lean Startup movement. Whatever model you select, will help you having a one-page business plan, which is easy to use, understand and modify. Once you have all 9 boxes filled, you will be able to see what the riskiest part of your model is and tackle it directly. If you are failing, you can try different methods until it works, but if the riskiest vital part is not working, this would be a big red lamp on your dashboard. It is not a good idea starting with the easiest parts because if we fail on the hard parts, we already lost time on and usually people will lose even more time, trying to fix a born-dead idea.
To fill out everything I think that this might help you
Mistake #9 – Your co-cofounder is…
Often we make a business with friends and family members. Whereas this could be beneficial for both parties, there few steps that won’t break your relationships.
- Define responsibilities – “you are doing this, I’m doing that” type of document. Yes, DO-CU-MENT! Why? Because we need to know what our responsibilities are, not just “I think that I should do this”. You have to know what is yours and what is his/hers/theirs. Once you have this set up you can easily define if someone is meeting the expectations, doing his job, or not.
- Define who is going in or out and how – Accept that everything could happen. Life could be unpredictable. Don’t focus on the situations that may occur – death, serious injury, looking after someone. Focus on what would happen if a given person can’t work anymore in this business. For example – is he or she getting his share until the end of his life or just as long as he works for the business? Is he/she going to receive one-time payment? How is this going to work?
The same question comes in, if you need another co-founder. What would be his share and responsivities?
3. Share and equity – Last, but not least. Who is taking what. What is important here, is that everyone needs to know what his share is. You may all work equally, but someone could still be the “head” of the project and he may want to have a bigger piece of the cake. There is nothing wrong with that. The most important part here is that everyone feels satisfied with his portion. Your relationship as partners is more important than 10% more or less.
Mistake #10 – Trying to know everything
A common bottleneck in the already established businesses is that a particular person, most likely the CEO wants to know everything. Every little step, having thousands of meaningless reports, knowing the exact number of clicks of every employee. This is an observed behavior of people who want to rule everything. What happens then is, a bottleneck. The business goes as good as the head who is taking all the small decisions. To avoid this situation let the employees what tactics are working best for them and your business grow. As long as the reports are showing progress, let them do their job.
Bonus Mistake #11 – working in your business
There is a difference when you are working in your business and on your business. If there is a task, that could be outsourced, you better give someone who loves the mechanical part of the work and thinks how to expand your business. A common misconception is “I can’t afford to hire people”. If you are making more than 400$ in profit you can always hire someone to do the small tasks for you. Especially if your customers are speaking English. There is a site called www.onlinejobs.ph, which for 50$ gives you one month access to people searching for a job in the Philippines where the average monthly salary is around 300$. If your customers are not speaking English, you can still have someone part time. Just make sure that you will set them a target, they should achieve. You need results in numbers, not time, right?
I hope you enjoyed these tips and common mistakes. If you like or hate some of them, please let me know in the comments bellow!
You can learn either from your own mistakes or preferably, from the mistakes of the others
Today I was wondering what topic I should write on. While a bit procrastinating the work, now at 22:40 I’m in quite good physical and mental condition, and guess what? Before I choose the best topic, the topic choose me.
I saw the following message in one Facebook group that I’m participating:
“Hi there, the application which we are developing is almost ready !
We need a bit more time to fix minor issues and you will be able to test/use it soon.
In the link bellow you can subscribe so you will find out when we are starting. The user accounts will be limited to 500!”
Okay, here is something wrong I thought. I clicked on the link and the landing page was displayed:
As a gamer in my teenage years I must admit, I like the style. It reminds me of StarCraft or Star Wars games. As an entrepreneur, there are few things that I can’t understand. It seems that these are mistakes that (almost) everybody makes when they start their first venture. There are few business models that we can discuss like freemium or premium. In this article I will stop on the “paid” model.
Mistake #1 Working upfront
As an employee, would you work a month, or more before you know if you are going to have a salary ? Are you working upfront and then, in the near future, someday maybe, someone decides to give you a paycheck for your work? I hope not.
As employees we are starting working in a predefined office location, for a predefined salary and working hours. Whereas as a business owners, there is always a risk you can minimize and calculate the expected ROI (Return On Investment) for a given period.
My Facebook buddy Nikolay done the first common mistake – they worked upfront. I mean, they worked a lot. Six months with a team of three people. This is 18 months in total. Year and a half is gone. After all this time, he managed to register the domain needed and create the landing page and subscription.
Why is this bad?
What if nobody wants to pay for the product?
What if the service sucks ?
What if is not user-friendly ?
What if nobody want it ?
What if they want it, but…
What if the price is…
There are too many if’s….
No one knows at this point 6 months later, if this going to work or not. You just can’t predict, there is an enormous level of uncertainty here.
How to avoid this problem:
Once you have your idea in your head – create a landing page right away! Marketing is done from day zero! You need real data. Not for someone else, not for similar target group, or idea. A real feedback from your prospects.
Why is this a fix?
If you have done the right landing page it should answer questions and create pictures in the head of your target customer. The landing page should answer simple questions like – who are you, what are you doing and how, and most importantly, why (search for the Golden Circle in Youtube). Still not convinced? See point two.
Mistake #2 No metrics
Metrics are the key to success. They are your friend, your invisible allу that will teach you what is right and what is wrong. By using metrics you will learn how to build, measure and enhance processes in you company. But before being a successful business owner you should at least know if the current results and idea are leading you towards a company owner lifestyle or… misery, loans and tough life.
Pretend that you are having the service already with a landing page, do the pricing. Before making your page public, make sure you are not putting a “subscribe” button. This is not the metric you are searching for. Subscribers may just want to inform about the product, by hitting this button. Put the “Buy now” (order now, or similar) button and see what happens. How many visitors do you have? How many people have actually clicked on “Buy now” button? This will give you vital information where you are and how to proceed.
If you have your page already set up, you can easily calculate the CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) and the LCV (Lifetime Customer Value). LCV as per Eric’s Ries definition in the Lean Startup Book is
“The profit you will make off each customer over the lifetime of doing business with you”.
As you can understand the LCV should be more than CAC. If your cost per acquisition is lower than you profit, than you are in the game.
Other important metric that I saw in a book that friend gave me as a birthday present (thank you Velizar and Mitko!) is to put a maximum loss threshold. Once achieved you just throw the white towel and realize that you lost this match with knock out.
If you are working for a project you can give yourself a timeline before this opportunity start bringing you real money. Even small profit (not revenue!) counts. You will still be able to maximize what works and do a bigger profit. On the other side, if you are having a business model, that generates revenue, but can’t build you profit – stop working immediately and get help! You can either sit on your own or look at the statistics or find someone better, who done this before, and ask if there is a chance for this model to start working. If the “doctor” replays you that your creature is dead, well be a grown person – face it, admit it, get over it and start again. This time better! Failure is inevitable part of the success. (FAIL = First Attemt(s) in Learning).
Why do I encourage you to give up? Many of the people will tell you – you know, it is hard, but you have to push yourself, maybe you need a bit more time, maybe….
Forget it. They are not working instead of you, neither they are going to succeed for you. They are just trying to be polite. If I could give myself advise as I registered my first company back in 2013th – this would be the best. I lost year and half (16 months) before realizing that I can’t just figure it out. There is no market-fit for my idea. I have spent around 5000$ in this time for this idea, a lot of sleepless nights and many unproductive meetings. Have I learned from it? Yes! Could I have learned in a shorter time and thus much cheaper? Absolutely!! If I had put my hypothesis on a landing page and have set success and failure metrics almost the same knowledge could be acquired for somewhere between 0 and 100$, and one to three weeks.
Key takeaway: “Fail fast, fail cheap”
Mistake #3 Not validating your ideas
Validation is the most important thing when it comes to startups. What is more important than validation is the correct validation. There is a great book called “The Mom test” which reviews a good aspect of validating. The landing page will pretty much give you a good idea where you are. But if you are making an offline product or service you put the next techniques in a good use.
Let’s say that you want to build an online marketplace for selling bio-food
directly from the manufacturer to the clients. My experience tells me that a marketplace is one of the trickiest models that you may want to build, because of it complexity. You have to be an expert in many areas. You have to know how to attract sellers and more importantly how to attract buyers.
So you are waking up with this great idea go to the Kitchen and say “Mom, you know, I want to tell you that I would like to sell bio cheese, nuts and vegetables in an online store. People are going to buy and I will just charge the buyer/seller a small percentage out of every purchase. What do you think?”
She might show you some interest and ask additional questions like “Hmm, how much would a pack of cheese cost? Do you think that people are going to buy?” …Or some other irrelevant questions. Why are irrelevant ? Because she is your mother (or other relative, or even friend) and no matter what you ask her/them they will most likely support you (read lie to you). Not because they are rude, but because they love you and want to give you support. This is not what you need an entrepreneur. You don’t need ego, you need information.
Here is how it would work:
You wake up in the morning and ask your mom/friend/girlfriend only if they are in your target group. If they are not, they opinion is irrelevant. So you go to your prospect and ask, “Do you eat vegatables?” (Hopefully Yes). “Where from do you buy them?” (here is some interesting info). “Why exactly from there?” – you can either ask or find out yourself in the previous answer. And most importantly “Would you use/buy ….. (your product or service) if it costs …..”. If they ask you why are you asking, you can always tell that “a friend of mine is thinking about some business around this” – just make sure that no one will give you the wrong answers because they love you.
I hope you got the idea. In the second conversation you have valuable information about how are your customers behaving, whether they are willing to use an alternative or what is the weakest point of their current habit.
Here are my top 3 ways for validating ideas:
- Ask if someone is willing to pay upfront after explaining – the amount is irrelevant. You can ask for a 1$ or two. The bottom line is – if they pay you upfront – they like what you do and your product. If they try to escape with “I’m broke or I don’t have any money now with me”
you will have to try with the following two
2. Okay I understand – you may replay. “Then, could you help me with….”. You ask for a specific help which in my opinion doesn’t need to take more than 20 minutes. This will show you determination that this person really like your idea or he doesn’t .
In case that you are speaking with a famous person, he or she can help you with her name
3. Ask the person,if he is relevant your customers and famous, recognizable name, to write a review about your product, or to advertise it in his network. This will help you a lot!
End of Part I
Guys, to be honest, this article took me hours. Please, be so kind sharing what your think in the comments bellow. I’m doing this for you! Any feedback is appreciated! Thank you!
Before we start I would like to explain what is a business for me “A system which create value, regardless if you working on it or not.”
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you run a business? All those employees and clients calling you in the middle of your dinner, asking for something. Or maybe driving your new shiny Porsche 911 motivates you, finding a way through all the inevitable voices questioning in your head “What if I fail?” Let’s get it straight. We all fail. If you are not failing you are not trying hard enough. You should fail in order to learn. We all know the successful stories but there are hundreds and thousands of people who are failing miserably. There are only few people that are succeeding like Elan Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates who went from zero to hero. Out of 7.2 billion population on our planet it is really small amount of people. And you may won’t be as much as rich or successful like them. Do you need all that money and fame to be happy?
While we all can’t be lucky as Donald Trump who obviously had a hard time as he is saying in an interview:
Don’t worry, here are top five myths that I will review about starting a
Myth #1 I prefer playing it safe and secure staying on job
Whereas this could be true in the middle of the 20th century when people used to work in a big factory and 40 years later leave the same job and retire, now the economic is growing and failing rapidly. The pension system is collapsing all over the world and the money which are now paid for retired people are not coming from their own contributions during their employee period. They are paid from the taxes which the government collects, including healthcare taxes, road taxes, etc.. If the number of the young working people (paying taxes) equals the number of elderly, everything will be fine. But the statistics are saying that the population is getting older. Especially in Europe. This is a recipe for trouble.
In every investment book they write, don’t lay all the eggs in the same basket. In the USA many of the employees are understanding this good enough and invest part of their money on the stock market, having a life insurance, saving a fair amount of money. Here in Eastern Europe, where I live, this is not the case. Most of the people I know rely solely on their salary as a primary income. As this being said a significant amount of their material wealth belongs to the banks – cars, flats, even furniture, TV’s, smartphones and cameras. If anything happens with their job, none of this possessions would remain to their owner. To avoid this situation, the best practices suggests to invest part of the money. You may not want to build a business but you can still have a portfolio of investments which are giving you good ROI (return on investments), including savings. As an employee one will feel safe and secure if the organization bankrupt.
Lets get back on the myths
Myth #2 I’m too old to start
Look at the picture bellow
Do you know how many times Harland Sanders (more famous as colonel Sanders, the old smiling guy from the KFC logo) tried before someone actually decide to try his unique chicken recipe? 1009 ! You see it correctly, one thousand nine times he was rejected on an age of 65 before he finally succeeds. Not convinced?
Charles Bukowski quit his full time job on 49 dedicating himself to full-time writing.
Myth #3 I’m too young to start
Many of the success stories are created exactly by a young people, who found a way to bend the existing market and build their product or service so well, that everyone in their target want it. If you are an employee, you would need to develop marketing, sales or programming skills. Where as you can always co-found a business and hire some most of the positions – the above mentioned tree are vital part of the company’s success and as the Founder’s dilemma book says – you will have to be an expert in at least one of these areas and ideally found a co-founder in the others.
Ben Sibermann. Do you know him? No? He is the founder of Pinterest. How old is he?
He was 29 when he found the company. And before saying the Pinterest value now I need to review what led Ben to this massive success. He has been a Google employee and he left the company. Then he had few false startups. In 2012 Pinterest was valued for 1.5 billion US dollars. In 2015 after new 367 million founding from an existing investors the company’s value is 11 billion dollars.
We can speak also for Kevin Systrom who found Instagram at age 27, Drew Houston from DropBox on age 29, Brian Chesky 29 AirBnB. You may say, but I’m only 18, or 20 years old, they were some 7-9 years ahead when they found. The important thing to remember here is that this was far not the first or the second startup that these guys had. They have been trying year after year ago, before you (and I) can hear of them. So no, don’t wait until you are 25 or 27 to start. Start now, you will be impressed how as much as you know the more you want to know, and the more questions you will have.
Myth #4 I don’t have money to start
Well, too baaaad, as one of my friends would say. As mentioned above, we can’t be all born rich, but we all can get rich. There are different methods that you can fund your idea. You can borrow money from family, friends or the bank. Be careful with this method. Having money while starting a new business from scratch is as bad as not having money. You have to adopt the broke man mentality when doing business. More on this on another article.
What I really like about our time is, that you can have almost zero investment in your idea and still validate if someone would buy. You can use bootstrapping, were you are finding the place, the goods and anything needed without paying just to see if the clients are going to buy it.
Another good method is the Lean Startup – where you are making micro iterations and test hypothesis if they work. It is scientific approach to a problem, where are having a pre-defined success and failure value. So you can tell in few hours or days if an idea works or not.
I met a great woman in San Francisco, who told me how she does startups. She starts a job, works there for a year and during that time she saved money for 6 months of living and funding her new venture. Then she quits her job and in 6 months her only priority is doing her business. If she fails, she finds another job. You can see if this is an option for you.
Most of the ideas are able to validate in between 0 and 150$. So are the money that really stops you?
Myth #5 I like the 9-to-5 routine
Having a routine is great. Actually 80% of our actions are habits. So I do understand that you need to get job done after work – taking your kids from school, get the housework done, go to the gym, meet friends, and so on. A common misconception of doing business is that you need to be available 24/7 in order to succeed. This is totally wrong. You are having working time, as the most people. After this you are not obligated to work. If you can’t stop or you are not able to do anything until 18:00 hrs and you were working 8 hours already today, then you need manage your time and focus better.
In the end of this article I would like to ask you – “What if you succeed?”. What if you are able to change the world for good? I bet you have something which you would like to help. For example the singer Akon brought electricity to 600 million people in Africa. This is how you can have massive impact all over the world and spread your cause.
Do you do business? How many times have you failed? Please share in the comments bellow!