Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Chris Sentz. Chris is a digital solutions leader with an extensive background in the development and implementation of customer-facing growth initiatives including marketing, interactive communications, and market development. For more information, visit: f13works.com.
SmallBizLady: WHAT IS KEY TO SUCCEEDING AT SMALL BUSINESS?
ChrisSentz: There are a lot of skills that a successful small business owner will come to possess as they weave their way through the business environment. If I had to break it down though, I’d say you need to be flexible, and have a business that is GREAT at two of the following: Fast Delivery, Price, or Quality Product. If you are great at all three then you aren’t good at any. Positioning your brand early on and sticking to it is key to success.
SmallBizLady: HOW DO I POSITION MY BRAND?
ChrisSentz: Positioning your brand should be done based on the market, not in a vacuum. So if you decide to be the fastest high-quality tire manufacturer in the world you need to decide if the market values those attributes in your product-line. Test early and test often is a mantra that has yielded success with every business I have worked with. Don’t try to create a market, rather position yourself within a market to succeed.
SmallBizLady: HOW DO YOU APPROACH TESTING IDEAS AND PROCESSES?
ChrisSentz: I preach and practice testing at every business I work with. I came up with a concept called A/B/Z testing that pushes people to not only take a standard multi-variant approach to testing but try to do something off the wall. These ‘z-tests’ as we call them will challenge you and your team to contrive truly innovative variables to test against your market. We keep track of everything in sharable docs so we see successes, failures and keep an ongoing history of our efforts.
SmallBizLady: HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY BUSINESS IS SUCCESSFUL?
ChrisSentz: Success lies in an individual’s definition and should be defined BEFORE you begin your business. Set goals on the appropriate timelines and constantly check yourself and your operations against these goals. The goals should be obtainable, measurable and meaningful. If you are not working towards a goal you are the proverbial hamster spinning a wheel. I have worked with business owners making tens of millions of dollars annually that lost their money because they did not define success; looking back they realized they had attained success but squandered it aimlessly striving for something they couldn’t define.
SmallBizLady: WHAT’S THE FIRST THING I SHOULD DO TO START AN E-COMMERCE STORE?
ChrisSentz: I’d look for a product-market fit. Don’t jump into something because someone said selling a certain product was easy. Find a market that you can reach, this could be Facebook groups you are in, Snapchat, or Instagram followers, etc. and determine what product they want to purchase. Often times people start with a product or a market but only find out after making an investment of time and money that they forgot to determine the fit.
SmallBizLady: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO START AN E-COMMERCE BUSINESS?
ChrisSentz: Starting an e-commerce business is cheaper than ever before! There are a myriad of options to leverage in creating your e-commerce store and each one will have a cost associated with it. Also, it depends on your personal abilities, do you need to hire a designer, marketer, etc.. I recommend doing everything yourself to start and using a platform like Shopify or WooCommerce to build your e-commerce store. With basic packages starting at less than $50 a month you can get up-and-running quickly and test your idea with very little investment.
SmallBizLady: HOW DO I FIND MY TARGET AUDIENCE?
ChrisSentz: Once you have established your e-commerce business, it’s time to reach out to potential customers. Research competition, find your niche, and develop a target audience before you begin any advertising or social media. Once you have your audience, it’s time to reach out to them with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. (Instagram will be very popular for sales this year)
SmallBizLady: HOW DO I MAKE MY FIRST SALE?
ChrisSentz: Getting your first sale can seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family to buy a product and see what they think. If they like it, ask them to leave you a review on your site. If they don’t use their criticism to identify weaknesses in your store, and make changes accordingly.
SmallBizLady: BUT HOW DO I BUILD A LOYAL CUSTOMER BASE?
ChrisSentz: One of the most important aspects of any business is customer service. However, customer service isn’t simply responding to consumer complaints. A customer’s entire interaction with your store is an experience for them. This includes your home page, checkout process, payment options, etc. Remember to ask for feedback from customers to determine where you’re losing them or why they decide to come back and buy from your store again.
SmallBizLady: MY STORE IS GENERATING A 4 FIGURES IN SALES, BUT HOW DO I REACH THE NEXT LEVEL?
ChrisSentz: Once your store is providing at least $1,000 in revenue a month, you’re ready to ramp up your marketing and branding. This is when you will need to begin devoting more time to lead generation through social media. Launch Facebook contests, free giveaways on Twitter, or a special sale through Instagram. To reach 5-6 figures for your ecommerce store, social media will need to become a priority for you.
SmallBizLady: WILL I BE ABLE TO MANAGE MY ECOMMERCE STORE BY MYSELF?
ChrisSentz: Absolutely! Your ecommerce store isn’t necessarily passive income, but it can make sales 24/7 without requiring you to be at the helm all day. To reach the level of 5-6 figure revenue however, your 5-9 may need to become your 9-5. As you put more time into your store, it will become more passive and be a lot more manageable.
SmallBizLady: HOW DO I CONTINUE TO GROW AS A BUSINESS OWNER DURING ALL OF THIS?
ChrisSentz: Study. Study. Study. Continue to learn new techniques, business practices, and methods. It is okay to look over at your competition to find something new to try. Look for a mentor. Find someone inside of your industry that isn’t competition, but has the knowledge you seek to obtain. Never stop learning.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
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The post How To Create An eCommerce #SmallBiz That Earns 5-6 Figures appeared first on Succeed As Your Own Boss.