Quick Query: Volusion COO on Platform Upgrades, Tips to Merchants

Volusion is an early-day hosted shopping cart platform which has grown to represent 18,000 online shops. The business has recently upgraded its platform and to describe those updates, among other ecommerce topics, we talked with Volusion’s chief operating officer, Clay Olivier.

PeC: Tell us a little history of Volusion.

Clay Olivier:“We have been in business since 1999. The business was founded by my spouse, Kevin Sproles. Actually, it is a great start-up story itself. He began in his parents’ bedroom with allowance money and he began designing websites. Like a great deal of entrepreneurs, he just put it all back into marketing and gradually built it up. In 2003, I left Dell Computers, where I had an extremely successful career, and was prepared to begin my own business.

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“I started an online shop using Volusion applications and found it on likely page three of Google, and it was this remarkable platform. There was not a whole lot of marketing there since it was really a programmer, Kevin, who’d initially started it, and I just adored the platform. It was better than everyone else and so I started using it.

“I really became an angel investor on the bargain and opened up an office in Austin [Texas], and immediately hired a sales and marketing group and the rest is history. We have worked with over 100,000 entrepreneurs in addition to a whole lot of small companies and Fortune 500 brands, and we have had tremendous success. And lots of it’s because we actually listen to our clients. We are really focused on ensuring they are effective and frankly just have a terrific time. We are entrepreneurs in mind.”

PeC: What is your customer count now?

Olivier:“We have over 18,000 busy shops. The huge majority are small businesses, but because our platform is scalable and we’ve got all of the safety things that all the bigger brands need. And we have had a whole lot of success there since we are so competitively priced and actually offering sort of a one-stop store.”

PeC: What is the selection of prices for your products?

Olivier: “It starts at $24.99. That really includes everything merchants need, such as hosting.

“With regards to small business, plans ranges up to about $159 for a month; then for individuals with bigger needs, [we’ve ] custom pricing because of quantity and items of that nature.”

PeC: Are there any transaction fees?

Olivier:“No, there are no transaction fees in any respect. It truly sets us apart from people like Yahoo! and ProStores.”

PeC: Your company has just announced updates to your platform. Please give us a summary of these.

Olivier:“A lot of these [ideas for the] updates came from our customers, as we have ecommerce specialists in-house that really try to listen to our community.

“We included Soft Add to Cart, a feature that actually helps enhance the shopping experience by allowing customers to add their products in the cart without leaving the product details page; and, gift registry, which was something that people have been asking for, for quite a long time. A new social feature we added is named Insert This. It helps online shoppers to split the products they see on the actual merchant’s site across a hundred social networking networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Kaboodle, StumbleUpon, and much more. Things like this help elevate brand awareness and get more people to purchase.

“We also made two improvements to our government area. There are far more intuitive navigation tabs and menus. We redid our order-processing page. There are a few new performance indicators. We really built out a completely different user interface group and, this year we will see some really big improvements on this front.

“Also, we greatly improved our search capabilities for all our merchants. The refinement we added actually takes it to another level. It allows grouping of additional key words or terms like key words, refinement by manufacturer, prices, and custom fields. For bigger merchants that have a good deal more SKUs, it is critical because it helps people find what they are actually searching for.

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“My Rewards is what we’re calling our loyalty reward program, which is a really major thing. We also made the software so you can actually change any field on the shops. So, essentially, you can translate your applications or your site into any web-safe language. There are a whole lot of little things which were also added, but those were a few of the sort of important features.”

PeC: How do you balance all the characteristics which Volusion provides against a new merchant only coming in trying to get up and running?

Olivier:“I think that, though we do have a great deal of features, it’s quite easy to use a whole lot of it. So as to produce a product, you just have to fill out three fields, which I think is product name, product price, and product weight. The new version definitely has improved lots of that.

“I believe one of the things which you will see from us in the future is truly trying to separate out some of the innovative features from the entrance level attributes to ensure when a new merchant comes in from a consumer‘s perspective, all they see is only those basic capabilities. So, though there are three fields you need to fill out to really create a product, there are probably 50 to 75 more areas which will let you actually do anything about your product you could want. If you truly need to scale and grow, those are things you are going to need to do because it’s very competitive out there. If you’re simply displaying a product online and you are not wanting to do any sort of sophisticated vouchers or you do not need to actually deal with search refinement, it will really hinder achievement; and as time goes on, having the performance helps distinguish our merchants out and for the people that we’ve seen succeed are utilizing a whole lot more of those features.”

PeC: Anything else on your mind for our readers?

Olivier: I feel a really major concern is security. PCI certification is truly a big deal, and there are a whole lot of providers out there that, regardless of the claims they make in their sites, are really not certified.

“If you visit Visa’s site or to Google, you type in’Visa PCI,’ and on this page if you click on the international list of PCI/DSS Validated Service Providers, you will see everybody that is actually certified. No amount of advertising spent can alter that. And, so we’d really like to see folks be certain they’re being certified. [Editor’s Note: The Visa listing to which Mr. Olivier refers is for hosted shopping carts. Another list, for PCI accredited licensed carts, appears on the [PCI Security Council website ] (https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/index.shtml)

“I would also tell people to use some negative keywords [in pay-per-click marketing campaigns]. I know a whole lot of people could go,’Yeah, most of us know about negative keywords,’ but we think that it’s one of those things that entrepreneurs do not do enough of. We have particular campaigns that we run and at one ad group, we’ve got as many as 950 negative key words for the Volusion ad that we run. Negative keywords can literally save your organization thousands of dollars. Not only can it improve your quality scores and the relevancy of your ad, but also it actually can optimize your performance. Using things such as the keyword suggestion tool, looking at what your competitors are doing using SpyFu and things like that really can help you optimize your campaigns.”

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Quick Query: Full Sail Educator on Online Learning

There are various choices for ecommerce merchants who wish to learn new skills which could be applied to their organization. Full Sail University is just one of those online alternatives. Having a physical campus in Winter Park, Florida, the college offers online applications in areas like web design and development. With this “Quick Query” we talked with Ani Gasti, Full Sail’s director of faculty development.

Practical eCommerce:Tell us about Full Sail University. What degrees do you offer that would benefit an ecommerce merchant?

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Ani Gasti: “For the ecommerce merchant, there are some really obvious degrees I think. We have just graduated our first class of students in our master’s degree for Internet advertising. So, undoubtedly, Internet marketing is a place that is logical for an ecommerce professional. We provide that both for the bachelor’s and the master’s degree, but it is offered online only. There are some additional areas or degree areas which make sense I believe for ecommerce merchants like web design and development and visual arts for graphic design. But actually I think any of our level areas make sense for someone in the field of ecommerce because nowadays you are using all those tools for promotion. You use video and music and games and all of the various multimedia which we teach at Full Sail in some manner or another in every area of ecommerce.

PeC: The online advertising degree focuses on things like SEO and social media and analytics. Who are the specialists that you call on to teach these topics?

Gasti:“We need to satisfy our certification requirements, so in our master’s level we must have people at the doctoral level teaching or at least half of the school has to be at a doctoral degree. All the college in Internet marketing are fulltime, residing in Winter Park or the area of Orlando. Many have a shake which they hang out there and they are working as consultants. Consequently, they’re practicing Web marketers themselves and therefore the pupils are involved in the procedure. They are helping out these faculty members that do consulting work. Therefore, it’s really very good experience and it is very applied daily.”

PeC: What do you do to make sure that the online learning experience is at least as good as a conventional education?

Gasti:“Among the things we did at the start when we’re considering going on the internet, we thought,’Well, let us do our due diligence and study the present learning management.’ So, you might be familiar with terms such as eCollege or Blackboard and with all due respect to these entities, they did not deliver education in how we like to deliver it. Thus, we bit the bullet and decided to build our own online learning platform. And what we’re able to do that is address some of the greatest weaknesses of conventional online education. A couple of the large ones are a feeling of isolation on the student part and the perceived limit of what online education can be. And so, in designing our own learning management system, we built it in such a way that the pupils are very connected to their teachers, to one another and to the school itself. So a lot of online education is much more like a digital correspondence program. We built it to provide education using all of the multimedia tools on the internet that we use on campus. I’ve had many pupils say actually that they’re more engaged and connected within this internet degree of Full Sail than they were in their previous courses somewhere else.”

PeC: several ecommerce merchants are so occupied with their daily operations which –if they have something they have to learn– they may visit YouTube and look for a tutorial. That is absolutely free. Or they take one course offered via a website like Lynda.com. What’s the benefit of Full Sail over either one of these choices?

Gasti: Well, first of all, allow me to say that I think those choices are terrific and we use them. We use those in our classes. We’ve got courses where the students–as a part of the class material–get a lynda.com account, and our faculty members have their own YouTube stations and we utilize the present free stuff out there also. But it’s only part of the picture. The use of education, I believe, is to put everything into perspective. I love to use this case. One could say, ‘Why study French literature? All of the French novels are already out there.’ However, the education part is teaching you how you can talk French and read and write it and then to learn what’s the purpose, the significance and the background of all this. That is what we do with all our degrees. We teach the tools, but we put it into a larger context and provide a perspective and a feeling of what the value of all of this is and what is my role in this for the pupil.”

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“With Internet advertising, I think there has been a history of people learning parlor tricks. You learn what is the latest tricky thing to do with SEO, as an instance, and that’s excellent. That may help your organization to a certain degree, but we think Web marketing is a profession. So, yes, learn the tools and the tricks, but in addition, you have to be a strategic thinker in your area, your industry, so as to create a mark and become the most successful that you could be.”

PeC: Anything else you want to share with the ecommerce merchant?

Gasti:“The entire world is becoming more interactive and more collaborative and entrepreneurs will need to be sure they’re doing this as well. 1 thing that we’ve performed at Full Sail is to have an extensive use of web 2.0 tools and use them as teachers ourselves. Our students use them as students in the projects they perform, and our graduates–our working students–use these tools as professionals. I only want to thank them for being the backbone of the economy–the tiny businesses which are keeping things moving. At Full Sail, we do what we can to offer the education, resources and training for our students to follow the exact same entrepreneurial path. Our objective isn’t just to own graduates, but to have happy, successful graduates.”

23 Tools to Help Manage Content

To make sure your clients have a rich experience with amazing content, you will want more than just a content management system. You’ll require a basket of tools to research, create, market, and monitor your content.

Here’s a list of tools that will help you with content. You will find content search-engine-optimization-tools, editorial tools, content promotion aids, and resources to protect your content from plagiarism. The majority of these programs are free.

Content Tools

Yahoo! Style Guide. Yahoo! Style Guide covers grammar and punctuation and a large number of topics with a web-specific focus: writing and editing for an online audience, techniques for streamlining copy, basic internet codes, Internet law, search engine optimization, and much more. Price: Free.

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Yahoo! Style Guide.

Associated Press Stylebook. The AP Stylebook is your writing style guide for journalists. It offers basic guidelines for spelling, language, punctuation, usage and journalistic style. It’s the definitive source for professional journalists. Price: $26/year.

Quora. Quora connects people with what they need to learn about. Find great content thoughts from frequent questions people are asking. Price: Free.

Übersuggest. Get keyword thoughts with Übersuggest, the free keyword suggestion tool which makes use of Google Suggest and other indicate services. Use the keywords to find inspiration for your articles, or to maximize your pay-per-click campaigns. Price: Free.

Google Keyword Tool. If you would like your content to pull searches, you want to use strong key words in your text and titles. Google AdWords Keyword Tool is a excellent way to get keyword thoughts and get the ideal text to your audience. Describe what words or phrases will drive the most traffic to your website. Price: Free.

Trapit. Research any subject and Trapit provides one of the most relevant spam-free content from around the net. Trapit learns from your thumbs up or down, improving your results over time. Price: Free.

Google Trends. Google Trends give you popular search phrases. Compare tendencies for multiple search terms. Use trends in your keyword campaigns and articles. Price: Free.

Google Trends.

Google Alerts. Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results — net, news — according to your queries. Aggregate content on a topic, developing narrative or business. Google Alerts can ensure your own content is timely. Price: Free.

Trello. Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into planks. At one glance, Trello tells you what is being worked on, who is working on what, and where something is in a procedure. If you’re working with others or simply have to visualize your own project, Trello is a superb tool to track your content creation. Price: Free.

GatherContent. GatherContent is just another tool to better manage your web content jobs. Organize your content with drag and drop. Track changes and watch revisions. Structure particular rules and rules for your own content. Get content you want from the group. Export content to your CMS. Price: $24/month for 5 active jobs.


InboundWriter. InboundWriter makes it possible to identify popular themes and performs automatic keyword research, extracting key chatter, articles, influencers and content across hundreds of internet sources. Follow content marketing best practices via an easy to use tool and useful suggestions for word options, content construction and other standards. It is going to even rate your effectiveness as you compose with real time content scoring. Price: Free up to 4 files per month; $40/month up to 15 documents.

IWriter.com. If you’re not able to write your own copy, IWriter.com supplies freelance articles from 150 to 1,000 words in length. Ask articles to be written on any subject. Pay only when you approve an report. Price: Articles begin at $1.25.

Storify. Storify enables you to curate social networks to construct social stories, bringing together media scattered throughout the internet into a coherent story. Look through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, and much more to collect material. Embed the narrative to enrich your own content. Price: Free.

Scoop.it. Scoop.it is just another publishing-by-curation platform. Scoop.it identifies great content that matches your audience’s interest. Easily edit and release, then embed it on your website. Price: Fundamental plan is free; Company program is $79/month for performance and branding metrics.


Jing. Improve your content . With Jing, create videos and images of what you see on your computer screen, then share them immediately. Pick any window or area that you want to record, and Jing will catch everything that happens in that region. From simple mouse motions to a fully narrated tutorial, Jing records what you see, and do. Price: Free.

PitchEngine. PitchEngine is a PR platform to pitch your articles stories and get out the word about your enterprise. Reach your clients directly with real-time upgrades and promotions. Produce content from your phone, computer, or tablet computer and publish to your clients on any device. Price: Infinite pitches for free; $39/month for SEO and improved analytics.

dlvr.it. Dlvr.it is just another content distribution platform. The platform’s Promoted Stories automates syndication to social websites, blogs, RSS feed readers, and even news websites. Price: $9.95 to $29.95 per story based on the amount of distribution needed.


Zemanta. Zemanta indexes your content and urges it to bloggers when semantically relevant. Zemanta provides a channel for content marketers to reach over 140,000 active bloggers. Price: Free.

SharedCount. Shared Count offers social analytics. It monitors your stocks, enjoys tweets, Diggs, Pins, and much more. Get social stats on the success of your articles. Price: Free.

Linkstant. Linkstant allows you to know instantly about new links to your articles. Contact linking websites to fix link destination or anchor text, only moments after they have created the link. Linkstant permits you to see whether your content is going hot on social networking sites. Price: Free.


Google Analytics. Find your website’s top content and hidden jewels with the Content reports in Google Analytics. You’ll discover how often people visit each page of your website, how long they stay, and how frequently they convert. Using Content Experiments, it is possible to create several versions of a page and show different variations to different visitors. Google Analytics measures the effectiveness of every page version and determines the very best version. Price: Free for consumers with less than 10 million hits per month.

Copyscape. Copyscape provides a plagiarism checker for finding copies of your articles online, in addition to complimentary plagiarism warning banner ads to warn others against stealing your content. In addition, it offers advanced tools, such as copy-paste creativity checks. Price: Plagiarism checker is free; Premium is $.05 per hunt.

Tynt. Tynt protects your articles from plagiarism. It inserts the page URL once your content is pasted into emails and social websites. Your visitors increases and SEO improves as more URLs become fixed links. Price: Free.

Using Past Clients to Help New Shoppers

Ecommerce merchants strive to answer questions from shoppers. Relevant, useful answers presumably increase conversion prices. We recently spoke with George Eberstadt, founder and CEO of TurnTo, about his company’s system that relies on previous customers to answer questions from potential ones.

Practical Ecommerce: What’s TurnTo?

George Eberstadt:“TurnTo provides a societal question-and-answer usefulness to online stores. It runs on the item detail page of the storefront also helps shoppers get answers to questions from those who really purchased those products previously.”

PEC: You are CEO and founder of TurnTo. When did you start the organization?

Eberstadt:“We started this about four and a half years back. But the first year and a half or so was concentrated on a related product lineup. In Internet years, we are probably 3 years old.”

PEC: Do you own the business?

Eberstadt:“We are privately funded — located in nyc.”

PEC: With evaluations and testimonials, general social networking dialog, and the numerous sophisticated merchandising features which exist, why do online shoppers want another approach to research a product?

Eberstadt:“Surely, ratings and reviews continue to be the gold standard for consumer feedback about goods, and nearly all of the shops using our system have customer ratings and reviews when they opt to add social Q&A in addition to that.

“There are a whole lot of instances where Q&A can be really useful, like when there aren’t any reviews yet. The ability to reach out and receive the product info you need [from societal Q&A] is useful. At the opposite end of the spectrum, if there are 2,000 testimonials and you don`t really need to plow through all 2,000 to obtain the reply to the question you’ll need, being able to ask a question is the more efficient method to discover the solution. There are some folks who simply prefer to learn more in the more interactive manner as opposed to exploring for it, and there are those that are suspicious of the authenticity of testimonials.”

PEC: Describe the procedure, please, for your system. What does a shopper see? How does this work?

Eberstadt:“When a shopper is on a product detail page, she’ll see a button which says’Got questions? Get quick answers from people who actually purchased this item,’ or’View 5 questions and 25 replies,’ and she is able to click anywhere on that utility. She will be taken to the Q&A place on the page where there will be an area to submit a new query, and all the conversation that has already been recorded is available. She is able to browse through the questions and the answers, or there is a search utility so that she can easily see if her question has already been asked and answered.

“As shoppers submit a query, this is the place where the TurnTo unique sauce comes in. To be certain we really deliver on the promise to get answers, we take that query and we email it to folks who brought the product before.”

PEC: Do those previous customers know they are going to be getting the email?

Eberstadt:“It is treated as a marketing email, so those individuals have consented to accept that sort of communication from the shop, and the message explains very clearly what this is all about. There are two important links in the query email. One says ‘Answer this question.’ And one says’Do not send any more questions.’

“Just to give you an idea of how well received this email typically is, on average that email has answered in an 8% rate, whereas the determine rate is just 0.2 percent, normally. The majority of our shops tell us this is one of the only best performing advertising emails, with numbers like that.”

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PEC: Eight percent of previous clients answer the email?

Eberstadt:“The open rate on the question email is about 30 percent, and the click through rate is generally about 10 percent, then there is a little fall off, so approximately 8% of all of the men and women who received the email really submit a response. Since that rate is so large, it means that you don’t actually have to send the query to that lots of people to find an answer. Typically we will coach our shops to create 60 the target amount of people to obtain any specific question. That means on average each query would get about 5 replies from previous clients. The majority of those answers would return within the first 24 hours. On average the first response gets shipped back within one hour when someone first asked the question.”

PEC: Do the previous customers get paid anything for this?

Eberstadt:“We have a few shops who have incorporated a loyalty program, but we have not seen that makes a massive difference. Whatever their motives, it does not need an incentive.”

PEC: If I am a merchant, I may be sensitive about mails I am sending to previous customers because I want those customers to come back and buy from me again. Thoughts on that?

Eberstadt:“Let me discuss some general data about the conversion impact of the entire tool, and I will save that specific case for my final number. What we see is people who ask questions while shopping typically convert at a rate between 5 and 11 times greater than the baseline for the shop. Now obviously that is a well-qualified pool. Individuals who open the utility and read Q&A conversation that others have posted typically convert at a rate between 3 and 7 times greater than the baseline for the shop. The conversion rate of previous customers who return to answer questions is on average 2-3 times greater than the baseline for the shop. So again, they are past clients. It is a well-qualified pool. However, these are people who only came back to answer queries. They didn’t return to shop.”

PEC: How much does your product cost?

Eberstadt:“It is a tiered pricing model, with an yearly contract. Our tiniest stores typically pay a couple hundred a month to the system. Our bigger stores pay a couple thousand dollars each month.

“it is a fixed fee. The amount of the fee is based complete on the size of the shop, and we attempt to correlate it to worth, but it is not a cost-per-acquisition sort of model. It’s a flat yearly fee once the price was determined.”

PEC: We have many distinct readers with many distinct carts. Does your solution integrate with all shopping carts?

Eberstadt:“There is about a dozen that we’ve live integrations with at this time. We’ve packaged integrations with Magento and Demandware. We’ve got integrations with Volusion and on Yahoo! shops, and a lot more. We do custom solutions, if it’s easy to get into the data. So our system is really flexible. We aim to have the ability to work on a really wide assortment of shopping carts.”

PEC: If an organization is using a cart which requires a customized integration — possibly a hosted cart or a certified cart — is that going to cost additional money?

Eberstadt:“The first and the last question is what platform do you run on, and when this is one that we all know we have difficulty on, we will say what the constraints are. We charge a flat installation fee that is usually a few months worth of the yearly license. But we do not charge any more than that to perform the job based on what the specific cart is.”

PEC: Anything else?

Eberstadt:“While conversion is part of the value here, another large part is the search-engine-optimization benefit. Having new, changing user-generated content that is indexable directly on the item detail page has actually become best practice for accessing SEO organic traffic.”

Mimic Amazon at your own peril

Amazon is the largest internet retailer. Copy them and you, too, could wind up just like them. Do this at your own peril!

In their latest quarterly results (Q2 2012), Amazon turned in”remarkable” results of $7 million in earnings on $12.83 billion in earnings. That is the equivalent of creating a profit of $5.45 on $1000 in sales.

So, let’s put this in context of most little e-commerce retailers. Assume your annual gross earnings were $750,000. With results such as Amazon, you would take home a whopping $4,087 for your attempt.

Therefore, I ask,”Why bother being in business?” The”smart guys” in the area (such as Mark Zuckerberg who recently marveled at Jeff Bezos'”acumen”) would say that Amazon is sensibly accepting short term low margins for something”larger” down the street.

Unfortunately for them, the brief term has been Amazon’s full existence. You don’t need this sort of existence. Seriously, if you can not make money on $12 billion earnings, you won’t do it on $30 billion, $50 billion, or $100 billion. So as to ascertain the way to succeed against a giant such as Amazon, you need to know and understand your competition.

Amazon needs to elbow out online contest by forcing its own prices unfathomably low. That will not work in the long run like it’s for WalMart since WalMart painstakingly chooses what to market. I am not suggesting that Amazon will go away. What I am suggesting is that it is possible to endure, excel, and flourish despite their presence.

Amazon, unlike WalMart, will make anything available for sale no matter its saleability. So as to do that, Amazon must build gigantic warehouses. They can not force any sort of uniformity amongst its providers or arrange themselves economically for best selling, high-margin products. They basically have to manage whatever tossed their way. This isn’t efficient and it is very costly. Consider the difference concerning cost for Amazon to meet an order versus you walking into WalMart, locating the products you want, and bringing them into the register yourself.

That’s partially the reason WalMart creates a 3% gain on sales and Amazon makes 0.5%.

Amazon pays handsomely to provide”free shipping”. Their transport costs have risen so greatly that they have needed to construct more massive warehouses to be able to reduce transit spaces. This has the undesirable side effect of forcing them to collect sales tax in more states (something they unsuccessfully attempted to skirt by setting up sham subsidiaries in Texas). Unsurprisingly, Amazon supports Congressional legislation to enact a national sales tax in order that all online retailers need to collect it.

So, how can you counteract something so large and so powerful? Pinpoint their weaknesses and attack. Do not attempt and replicate what they do. You won’t be able to do it and even if you could, you won’t be constructing your distinctive brand. You are going to be building a copycat.

Amazon can not market the products they sell at any degree of acumen because they carry too many goods! Create your shop with laser-like precision. Become knowledgeable about what you sell and promote your experience! Provide services that Amazon can not provide. Get creative.

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Provide video how-tos, live chats, and extensive FAQs. Try to construct a neighborhood by making yourself (yes, you, the owner) that the ambassador for your own brand. Brand yourself as an expert by being on your own videos. Write articles. Answer customer questions, post them on your website, and make it very clear that you answered . If you sell shoes, you can go so far as to give yourself a title such as”The Shoe Whisperer” (cheesy, yes, but you get the idea). Your customers want to get in touch with your brand, but it is difficult for them to do this without a face or a character for your own brand.

A big-time fear of many e-tailers is that all of the effort will be wasted. Clients will see your amazing site, decide what to buy and then head over to Amazon to place the order.

Yes, that will happen. But do not whine about. Rather, fight back! Work with your suppliers to set up MAP programs so you can compete on an even price area. As soon as you’ve the price nailed down, you can excel concerning promotion (how the item is clarified and introduced ), customer support, and support. What’s more, you could work with your providers to make bundles packed with value which aren’t available on Amazon. Maybe you can provide support contracts. Get creative with your suppliers and you’ll succeed!

Bottom line: Do not kill your margins to improve your top line revenue. Build a brand which depends on more than simply being the cheapest price with free shipping. While this will get you some sales, you will likely end up broke.

12 tips for creating a Wonderful Client birthday App

What is the one thing people are most fond of, after their name?

Their birthday!

Annual events such as Christmas, Valentine‘s Day and Mother’s Day roster around every year, and while not everyone celebrates them, everybody has a birthday.

Even if something like 19 million people (7 billion people divided by 365 days) share the exact same birthday throughout the world every day, there is still something quite special about the day you were born.

We often recall their birthday parties as a kid, and how they celebrated their landmarks. With the passing of”snail mail”, a birthday card is becoming a rarity and thus it’s 1 marketing method that will make real cut-through with your client.

A birthday program can allow you to win the loyalty and focus of your clients — but only if you use it!

How often have you been asked for your birthday details by different companies? Dozens of times, possibly? And yet are you really surprised to get say, just a small number of emails or mass-produced postcards from firms sending you birthday wishes annually?

People today feel unbelievably indulgent in their birthdays and a few (like my partner!) Series out what he calls the”Festival of Me” for a fantastic week or so. It is their time to feel unique.

Since I introduced an email AND handwritten birthday greeting program, my sales have zoomed. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Of those repeat buyers who have received a birthday card for themselves, their spouse or their kid, 38% have purchased another product within three months.

Here is 12 tips on creating a Wonderful customer birthday program:

  1. If you do not already do so, request your client’s r day, month and year of birth upon registration. While the month and day is the minimal information you need, requesting for the year can allow you to target those particular milestones, like their 18th, 21st, 25th, 30th birthday and so forth, and fine-tune your demographic information so that you understand what age groups are purchasing your products.
  2. In case you’ve got a CRM system, and whether the information is appropriate with regard to the products that you sell, request their spouse’s or their children’s names and birthdates too. Added birthdays or anniversary dates offer you several opportunities to target them during the year.
  3. Design branded, but clean interior greeting cards that you can use for any occasion. Do not design it with a Happy Birthday message; it is not likely to be design-equally appropriate for young children and for adults, and if you request anniversary dates, they won’t be served with such a particular birthday card design!
  4. Create a basic message that may be tweaked depending on if they were the first purchaser or the recipient, an adult or a child, and if you are mentioning their age.
  5. You will make the most effect on your customer in the event that you really handwrite the birthday card (ideally you’ve got fine writing) and get more points for handwriting the envelope, too! Pre-printed, mail-merged greeting cards using their name to distinguish customers are not quite as special. What is the cost and effort of a handwritten card value to your organization’s business? Remember: the only real birthday cards most adults get these days are out of their mothers or grandmothers so yours will stick out!
  6. Enclose an offer to observe. Most people today feel very self-indulgent around their birthday and might treat themselves then to a special offer from your organization. Making it date-specific will push them to behave, while open-ended promotions save you printing costs.
  7. If you are sending the card into your client’s workplace, ensure the coupon or offer code provides over single-use: they might be delighted enough to demonstrate their birthday card to coworkers, and pass the voucher . I’ve had several orders come in from business addresses where I have just sent the client’s birthday card.
  8. Ideally, check your clients’ address details a month before their birthdays. Most individuals are open to getting something in their birthday. I’ve open rates of over 30% on those”Can I please check your address?” Emails with about 20 percent of customers responding with a new address.
  9. Send the birthday card at least one week before their actual birthdate. This gives it a lot of time to get there, allows them enjoy prolong the Festival of Me, and it lets them display your card (which might be the only one they get ) for his or her friends to see.
  10. Another reason to mail their birthday early is that they might have moved. If they’ve completed a mail direction it might still reach their new address in time.
  11. If you get their birthday card Return to Sender, email them to update their address and wish them a belated birthday.
  12. Do not mention their age when your client is a woman aged over 30, or a guy older than 40. Lots of men and women that are older than this are uncomfortable having people know how old they are, especially if you’re sending it to a work address where coworkers might see it.

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The Significance of Ecommerce Strategy

One thing I discovered running my ecommerce jewelry industry for 10 years was that I was never completed. There was apparently always something new I should be working on.

I suspect a number of different merchants feel similarly. However, it’s important to inquire if you’re working on the ideal things. Are you investing time and money into projects which will help achieve your business objectives? Do you understand what your business objectives are?

Importance of Strategy

In the event you were to travel from Colorado to Canada, by way of instance, do you leave without doing any preparation? Probably not. You’d probably want to determine:

  • The best path;
  • Just how long it will take;
  • What supplies you need;
  • Customs or visa requirements.

If you would like to cultivate your online revenues in 2013 by 30 percent, how will you do this? Ask the very same types of questions, like the following.

  • More revenue from existing clients?
  • Increase average order value?
  • Sell through new channels?
  • Acquire more new clients through affiliate marketing campaigns?
  • Reduce your prices to steal business from rivals?
  • All the above?

The point is, make a plan. At least think and strategize even if you don’t develop a concrete business plan, which is always best, incidentally.

  • Conduct a SWOT analysis. Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and dangers of where you are now.
  • Review your overall vision. Where would you like to be in 5 to 10 years?
  • Establish business aims. For the present year, establish goals for sales, profits, customers, traffic, new systems, and new employees.
  • Pick your strategies. These are broad ideas of how to achieve goals.

Time Well Spent

All this will take some time, but it’ll be worth it. Continually reflect on matters that come from your SWOT analysis. It generally presents the chances you need to pursue and the flaws you have in your enterprise.

  • Concentrate on reducing your weaknesses and building on your strengths.
  • Mitigate the risks you see from outside threats. These are usually supply chain, aggressive, or traffic related.
  • Evaluate going after the outside opportunities. Those are often where your main investment of money and time should be made

Review your merchandise strategies, site, supply chain, customer service, fulfillment, and financing. To put it differently, review your entire company, not just one part. Making a change in your online shop may affect your operations or resources in a different area.

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Involve Entire Team

Assemble your management team from many departments and plan projects as a team for a half or full day. My company calls this “Discovery Project.” Having all of the stakeholders involved will help provide a broader view of your business and market. Create a vision and business goals the exact same day. Meet again a couple of days later and examine alternate strategies to attain those objectives. Set aside another week for the many teams to evaluate the effect of various strategies.

Develop strategies in these areas of your ecommerce business.

  • Client experience. Everything from locating your shop to post-sales support.
  • Merchandise strategies. What is your product mix, pricing, and sourcing?
  • Ecommerce platform and systems. Is your platform supporting the perfect customer experience? Are your systems automated and incorporated in a level to support your processes?
  • Business processes. How efficient are your surgeries? What are areas of advancement, training, or even better supervision?
  • Channels. Are you reaching all of the target clients with your current online shop? In case you add marketplaces? International markets?

Regions of Improvement

As you proceed through this process, you probably will immediately identify areas for improvement. A fantastic SWOT analysis may expose it through the first day.

For most merchants, customer experience improvements will be the major emphasis. Whether you just launched a shop or are running one which hasn’t changed in three decades, you need to have a list of improvements to make. Prioritize those improvements that can allow you to accomplish your business objectives. If you wish to sell more to existing customers, you might need investments in merchandising and personalization. If your intention is to acquire more new customers, you might choose to concentrate on new landing pages and search engine optimization.

In short, seek constant improvement.

Reading List: Rama Ramakrishnan of CQuotient

In”Reading List,” we request ecommerce professionals to name a few of their favourite books and sites, and tell us why they read them. With this setup, we corresponded with Rama Ramakrishnan, founder and CEO of CQuotient, a firm specializing in email hyper-personalization, who provided his favourite novels and Twitter follows.

Dr. Ramakrishnan is an entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in applying analytics to business issues. He says that he founded CQuotient when he”came to the understanding that instills customer insight systematically into everyday decisions could be transformative to merchant economics.”

Before CQuotient, Dr. Ramakrishnan educated analytics at the M.B.A. program at MIT Sloan School of Management and was chief scientist and V.P. of research and development in ProfitLogic, a supplier of retail-management Program. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Dr. Ramakrishnan was engagement manager at McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm, and senior portfolio manager at CIBC Oppenheimer, an investment firm.

Rama Ramakrishnan’s Top Books

The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton M. Christensen

“In my honest opinion, the most thought-provoking business book of all time. If you wish to know how David beats Goliath in the area of business, this is the book.”

Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson

Rework, by Jason Fried and David Hansson

“Irreverent and unconventional advice about building a company from the men behind 37Signals. You’ll be motivated to view your company otherwise, guaranteed.”

Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

“As a card-carrying data and math geek, it isn’t surprising that I enjoy this book. The authors examine several scenarios through a data lens and think of interesting and special insights. If nothing else, the publication will sensitize you to the advantages and risks of a data-centric perspective of the world.”

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely

We like to believe that we are rational but in fact we’re not. This simple read does a excellent job of pointing out the common ways that we stray from the logical path. A number of this material is very applicable to ecommerce.

The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone

The Art of Possibility, by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone

“A warm, inspiring book on living a life of possibility and participation. The authors open your eyes to how little changes in attitude can make a huge difference. My favourite quote from the book:’There is no such thing as bad weather. There is only inappropriate clothing.’ Though I have to confess that New England winters do examine my view in this viewpoint.”

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Rama Ramakrishnan’s Best Twitter Follows


Sucharita Mulpuru Twitter Feed

“Sucharita Mulpuru is an analyst at Forrester Research that functions e-business and channel strategy professionals. Her pieces on ecommerce, multichannel retail, customer behaviour, and trends in the online shopping area are spot on.”


HarvardBiz Twitter Feed

“Harvard Business Review aims to provide professionals around the world with strict insights and best practices to help leading organizations function more efficiently and make a positive effects. I especially enjoy the Management Tips of the Day to better improve my leadership skills.”


iMedia Twitter Feed

“iMedia Communications is a trade publication serving the interactive media and marketing industries. I enjoy reading the posts on the’email tendencies page’ to see results on the most recent email marketing stats. iMedia’s weekly newsletter also keeps me up to date on all the latest digital marketing news and information.”


Greg Linden Twitter Feed

“Greg Linden was a part of the first team at Amazon that built its recommendation engine. He tweets or blogs about recommendation systems and a whole lot of different topics. They all have something in common: you may learn something interesting and new.”


Clayton Christensen Twitter Feed

“Clayton Christensen is the author of The Innovator’s Dilemma and How Can You Measure Your Life? . He is a professor at Harvard Business School and the architect of and also the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation. My respect for him grew as he had been called the’World’s Most Influential Business Thinker’ in 2011 [by CrainerDearlove, a consulting firm]. As an entrepreneur it is important for me to keep ahead of management trends and to perfect my leadership skills.”

10 ways that Starting a website is like planning a wedding

I am getting married this year and among the things I’ve noticed is how many parallels there are between the process of arranging a wedding and arranging a web site launch as I’ve just relaunched my own site.

Exactly like a wedding, it doesn’t matter whether it is your first, second or third (website launch), it is still stressful, and if you’ve ever taken the plunge before, the lessons you’ve learnt the first time around might not automatically protect you from making new mistakes this time!

1. Hosting

You must host your reception somewhere just as you must host your website. What type of help will they give you if there is a disaster? Do you receive a dedicated account manager/function planner? Is there a package you may upgrade to if guests (in this case, clients ) grow? Do you want the extras or in-house providers?

2. Decoration

How will it look? Will it have all the bells and whistles or are you planning a no-frills event? Is it a DIY job or are you calling in the pros? Can it be themed? What colors are you going to use? Flash now appears as laborious and old-fashioned as an ice swan carving!

3. Entertainment

What have you got that can keep people there, enjoying themselves? Can it be a one time extravaganza or are you going to plan a lot of smaller lead-up celebration occasions? What surprises will have them oohing-and-aahing? What have you got they could share on social networking?

4. Invitations

Although most people footing the bill for a wedding will probably be happy if they had more invitations dropped to reduce costs, the opposite is true of a site launch. But, both a wedding and a site launch ask that you obtain and maintain spotless records of their guests’ contact information and preferences or you can’t invite them to participate.

5. Low-key and romantic or a splashy affair?

Is your wedding for a select few, celebrated without a lot of fanfare (ie a soft start ) or are you going to employ publicity pros and paparazzi to sell your photographs into the magazines? How many people do you wish to know about your site launch? What if you are left at the altar (ie something fails to materialise)? Can you manage the scandal?

6. Our story

I’m confident that you’ve been to weddings where, encouraged as a plus-one, you’re still no closer to knowing the background and history of the wedding couple. Other weddings have almost excruciatingly private accounts full of embarrassing and teen candid photos. How much information will you share from the About Us page? A bland, generic narrative that leaves the client no longer involved or a fairly comprehensive account that makes it possible to understand the people concerned?

7. Guest list

When you are young and inexperienced, your wedding — and website — may be appreciated by many men and women that you may no longer see. For weddings and site launches planned once you are a bit more seasoned, you might decide that quality always trumps quantity. And if you are paying for it yourself (as my fiance and I are, rather than my parents footing the bill), I would rather have real lovers and advocates, than those that are merely warming the chairs but who provide nothing. Can it be invitation-only (ie Rue La La and Gilt) or open-house?

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8. The wishlist

Many couples getting married produce a wedding gift registry of what they would most like to get. Because you put a whole lot of effort into working out your fantasies, it can be disappointing to not receive them. In precisely the exact same way, you might get some, but not all your website launch preferences before the big day. And usually, some of the most expensive ones are the ones you’ll need to save up foryourself.

9. Thank yous

Just as you need to when you get wedding gifts, online retailers will need to show good manners and invite clients immediately for their purchases. A handwritten note is always a unique touch.

10. Plan for contingencies

It may rain, the celebrant may get waylaid in visitors, or the dress is destroyed on the day. But disaster can hit new sites too. Strategy for alternative shipping suppliers, product failures, out-of-stock scenarios, inadequate staffing levels, power outages, unhappy clients or negative social networking feedback. Keep smiling and plough on.

17 Education Websites for Internet Merchants

Web merchants wear many hats, like entrepreneur, entrepreneur, accountant, and technologist. If you need assistance developing some of your ecommerce abilities, there are loads of free resources available online.

Here’s a list of education sites for ecommerce entrepreneurs. These sites give brief tutorials, webinars and workshops, and complete college courses. All these tools are free.

The Free Micro-eMBA

The Free Micro-eMBA.

This is a totally free, self-paced program for entrepreneurs to better understand methods of business and to develop a business organization. The program is from the Free Management Library. If you are using the app to begin a company, complete all of the modules in the sequence listed in the program.

Peer 2 Peer University

Peer 2 Peer University.

P2PU is a community-centered education endeavor. Learn by completing tasks, assessing individual and group work, and providing constructive feedback. Learn web development at its P2PU School of Webcraft backed by Mozilla. Get started with Webmaking 101.

iTunes U

iTunes U.

More than 1,000 colleges and universities in addition to K12 concentrated and cultural institutions from around the globe have busy iTunes sites. Approximately half these institutions — such as Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, and UC Berkeley — distribute their content openly on the iTunes Store.

IRS Small Business Video and Audio Workshops

IRS Small Business Video and Audio Workshops.

The IRS provides solutions to common tax issues for entrepreneurs and smaller businesses. Access archived video of live panel discussions and webinars, in addition to archived sound of national phone conversation. Its Virtual Small Business Tax Workshop is composed of nine interactive classes designed to help new small business owners understand their tax rights and obligations. There’s also a set of videos on starting a company .

My Own Business

My Own Business.

This website offers two 15-session tutorials about how to begin and succeed in business. “Starting My Own Business” covers startup preparations, including a business plan, and common pitfalls. “Building My Own Business” reviews internal controls, growth opportunities, evaluation techniques, and exit strategies to raise and exit your organization.



Good-Tutorials aggregates tutorials from web design and development websites. Access tutorials on HTML, JavaScript, Flash, Photoshop, and photography, and much more. Together with the tutorials, it’s nice community characteristics, such as discussion boards and action streams for users.

YouTube EDU

YouTube EDU.

YouTube EDU offers short tutorials and lessons from leading educators around the world, full courses from the world’s leading universities, professional development material from fellow teachers, and inspirational videos from international thought leaders. Access the business stream and its own classes like entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, and innovation.



Learn the building blocks of web development with HTML and CSS, and produce your own website. Create advanced and interactive websites using JavaScript and jQuery, and operate on many different personalized web applications.

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SuTree is a knowledge community and aggregator of educational and instructional videos. It posts brief how-to videos together with complete instructional courses. Its “Business & Career” class comprises tutorials on internet marketing, entrepreneurs, planning & strategy, and sales.



AccountingCoach.com is designed to help individuals with no accounting background readily understand accounting concepts free of cost. Access accounting issues for clear explanations, strengthening quizzes, Q&A, puzzles, dictionary of terms, and much more. Site also provides a pro company, including seminar videos and research materials, for $49.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy.

Khan Academy is a non-profit organization with the objective of changing education for the better by offering a free world-class instruction for anybody anywhere. Entrepreneurs should access its
Accounting and financial statements tutorials, in addition to a vast array of videos on economics, finance, and capital markets.



Discover how to make a web site with free tutorials in web development technologies. Access tutorials, examples and quizzes in HTML and CSS, JavaScript, server side languages, web services, browsers, and much more.

OpenCourseWare Consortium

OpenCourseWare Consortium.

This is a totally free and open electronic publication of high quality educational materials from schools and universities. Materials are organized as classes, and frequently include course preparation materials and analysis tools, in addition to thematic content. Look for classes from all OCW Consortium members that are currently publishing a class feed.



Nettuts+ is a website aimed at web designers and developers that offer tutorials and articles on technology, skills and methods to enhance how you design and build sites. It covers HTML, CSS, JavaScript, CMS platforms, PHP, and Ruby on Rails.



This website offers online learning tutorials to anyone who wishes to enhance their technology, literacy, and mathematics skills. It offers a wide assortment of basic technology tutorials for novices. Topics include Google Drive and Docs, Microsoft Office, social networking, and site basics.



The U.S. Small Business Administration provides an assortment of resources to assist a small business proprietor and operate a small business. Its Small Business Learning Center provides online instruction, video tutorials, and chat sessions.

Never Forget The Client

Ecommerce is a service business. We should never forget that clients come first. We should always consider what a client really wants from us. With Ecommerce we build a website, we construct admin systems and processes, and we try to create everything efficient so we can send out the goods as quickly as possible with the lowest costs. In all this we should never forget the client. In our highly technical environment it can be easy to miss obvious real world issues.

I have a few examples, but not all Ecommerce, they do highlight where large organisations which should know better, have dropped the ball.

In the UK all companies have to collect and pay the tax for each of their employees. Up until the end of the tax year the employer must send an annual return, electronically, to HMRC. From the beginning of the new tax year companies must send an electronic return prior to each payment. This is a gigantic change. The tax year ends on Friday April 5th. I pay my workers on Saturdays, so according to the principles I need to complete and submit my end of year return for 2012/2013 before I can upgrade the software for the new year and send my initial return to the new scheme. I must submit this until I pay them on Saturday 6th April. In theory I have an entire week to balance the years figures, submit them install the new software, get it working, submit the initial pay entry to the new interface. With 52 weeks in a year, guess which week HMRC shut their gateway for maintenance and administration. No submissions could be made before 6am on the 6th. They don’t even provide a secondary service to catch submissions for latter processing so that an employer is able to move on to test the new system and make sure they can resolve any teething issues and ensure they can legally pay their workers. I, and every other company who pays on a Saturday, will have only a few hours to test out a brand new system that we don’t have any opportunity to check before going live. Absolutely no thought of the actual world has become this. I have every expectation that the gateway will collapse because of the volume of desperate companies.

Like any sane employer I use a significant payroll software supplier, who will have this sorted. Mine is named Sage. Today I started. Sage helpfully supplied a 80 page document on how to do year end and get ready for the new year. Halfway through something went wrong, so I called their support line. Obviously at this time of year they’re busy, so I had a 20 minute wait until I got to speak to the very first line support. That said I expected it, and they obviously hoped it, so I had been given a choice of music to listen to and an accurate countdown of how long I needed to wait. So far good customer support. The front line service was superb. Knowledgeable and immediately determined what my problem was and told me they knew how I could resolve it. Then the ceremony slipped. It appears I had the wrong amount of support. They weren’t allowed to give me the answer over the telephone. Not a problem I had been told, just update your account and pay for the extra support. Obviously the technical support can’t do so, it needs to be a different section. So I needed to be passed on to the revenue department to update, then I’d be passed back. OK, bothersome but not unreasonable. The sales department was quite efficient, the update cost was a really low $15 to get a years worth of unlimited support calls, you don’t have to pay up front. I was amazed and happy . Then they ruined my mood. They did move me back to technical support, but to the rear of the queue. So I had to wait another 20 minutes to receive my answer. Why? If there was no requirement to pay up front, why would the technical support man be unable to update the account and then answer the question? Yet again the organisation forgot the actual world, and the client’s perspective. I was made to wait twice as long as I should because their system wasn’t flexible enough.

My third example is Ecommerce. One of my competitors chose to ditch some of their inventory on Ebay at well below cost. So I purchased it all, 1 transaction, one payment, one invoice. Rather than being sensible and boxing up them and sending me one box, they shipped them all separately. Each put in a simple plastic bag with no protection and individually posted. Unsurprisingly many got ruined. So they had to be returned. The fun then started. They wanted me to apply for a return authorisation for every product, they wanted me to publish a different return tag for each product, they desired me to return all of them individually. Unlike them, I wasn’t prepared to spend a lot of money sending heaps of individual parcels to a speech where one parcel would do. So I sent them back in 1 box, with their unique returns authorisations enclosed. Of course the inevitable happened, they just refunded me for a single item. It took days to receive a complete refund. Their system was geared up to process individual items, fast and efficient. Their yields system was aimed up to take care of individual items. Both completely disregarding the real world possibility of someone ordering multiple components in 1 transaction. Now I won’t ever purchase from them again. I am however happy that one of my opponents is so unworthy.

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All these organisations should have invested a little more time when designing their systems and considered real world situations. All should monitor their systems to find out what goes wrong and be flexible enough to enhance their systems to fulfill the real world challenges. I am confident however that they don’t.

Whilst no system is ideal. However hard you try to be customer friendly, it’s necessary to monitor your own performance from the client’s perspective, and determine what could be improved. If you do not do so then a competitor could gradually get their act together and surpass you.

Thinking about starting a business?

Think again!

I have been running my own little business for more than ten years and I often talk with people that are contemplating starting their own company. Listening to their expectations usually results in my shaking my mind later and thinking,”They don’t have any clue what they are getting themselves into!”

Running your own business isn’t a fairy tale. It is just about the hardest thing I have ever done. It can be annoying and rewarding. It can offer the greatest highs and immeasurable lows. 1 day, it may validate your struggles and you may feel on top of the world. Next, it can cause you to wonder how you could have ever been so wretchedly stupid.

Buckle up. It is a wild ride.

Your business will most likely fail. You will likely either give up or run out of cash before your company has a chance of success. To prevent the latter demands creativity. The former requires a thick skin, iron will, and endless determination.

Being your own boss isn’t a picnic. As it happens, your boss is kind of a jerk. He makes you think of the company nearly every waking moment of the day.

Your business plan is most likely worthless. Going through the practice of producing a business plan is a superb way to make certain you’ve thought about aspects of the operation which you might have overlooked during the”back of the napkin” point, but believing that anything will really turn out how you’ve”intended” is absurd. Be flexible.

Equity is everything. If you want cash, go to a lender. Simply exchange equity for something you can’t get any other way. Thinking that a spouse will make starting a new company simpler is wishful thinking. As a new company, your only ally against based companies is the ability to pivot and move fast. With spouses, each decision requires debate and is an great time suck. You have to find validation of your thoughts from inside.

Only fools believe anything is foolproof. Everything will fail. Just be ready for when it will.

Making more money isn’t a very good motivation for starting a company. Money doesn’t equal happiness or satisfaction. It’s tough to be successful doing something you hate. That having been said, the purpose of a company is to earn moneyas it’s the one thing that separates a company from a charity. Welcome to the paradox!

Business = issues. You’d better love the”good” parts of your business, as you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time managing the crapola (see next point).

You will have far less time than you ever imagined. Salesman who start their own company so as to maintain 100% of their commission are often surprised to discover that they suddenly don’t have any time to devote to selling. You can’t fathom the amount of time it takes to run the organization.

Find the solution that still works once you assume the worst. For retailers trying to determine how much stock to purchase, I say,”You can not go broke selling from an item.” Forget about the money you “left on the table”. Be happy you left the table with ANY money in any way. My grandfather always told me to”rescue the crying for a reduction.”

Keep your emotions out of business. Emotionally-based decisions tend to turn out badly. Always think with your mind (and by extension, your gut), but not your heart.

You are not as smart as you think you are. Check your ego at the door. The best idea should win. Try to surround yourself with workers who are better (in their field of expertise) than you are. Listen to them and enable them to prove themselves, but always trust yourself and your own gut. You are the only one with skin in the game.

Understand the motives of others. You always have to figure out what motivates your competitors, your suppliers, and your own employees. As soon as you understand what is important to them, you are able to negotiate successfully.

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Being smart doesn’t equal success. The difference in ability between the owner of a failed company and a successful one would be tough to discern. Their attempts, however, are another story. Your will to succeed is a lot more important than your present knowledge of a company or your so-called intellect. Many successful business owners knew very little about many aspects of their company when they began. They figured out the details along the way due to their dogged determination to succeed.