Internets = Parody motivator.

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It has taken me a little while to recover from the weekend, because it was a particularly good one. My daughter made an absolutely fabulous castle shaped cake, complete with turrets, and we went to see the Green Hornet, though probably it’s best to say as little about that as possible. As a finale, my son quite excelled himself when it came to our regular session of Dungeons and Dragons.

It wasn’t easy, since the bad guy, the revolting Surgeon King, had enhanced his evil creation. Number 76B  now has six arms, every one of them a sword wielding menace. But we got through, and the surprise was, it was because we got help from an unlikely source. A character who was not what he seemed.

And that turned into a full scale discussion about our whole journey from the UK to the USA, and the things which had not turned out to be what we expected.  One of them was ebusiness.

I’ve lost track of the number of people who have told me that e-business is not what they expected, and I’d have to agree. When I started my nightgown business I fondly imagined Id spend most of my life thinking about fabrics and designs, when in fact the main concerns are traffic and conversion. And that’s saying nothing at all about the amount of writing that’s involved.

So, for those who are still starting on the e-business journey, here’s an idea of what you can expect.

When you decide to go into business online, you may have no idea what sort of business you are interested in. If that’s the case, your first job is research. You’ll find more ways to make money than you can possibly imagine (and just as many people willing to take money to show you how to do it) but experts agree that when you’re starting up, and probably still have a day job, the best thing to do is start a webstore, selling physical products online.

You need very little money to invest, and you don’t need much technical skill. It is unlikely that one store will make a you fortune, but it should make you money within a reasonable time (1 year to 18 months, though it can be sooner) and when it does, you can look at schemes which require more investment (or time or money) or you can simply open another store and do it again.

You first task is to find a niche, something you can feel good about selling and either know about or feel happy to learn about. Something lots of people want to buy, but not too many other people are selling. Something with a good profit margin, related magazines and a possibility of repeat sales is ideal. Then you can really get started, and it’s all about research and making choices.

  • Find a domain name and register it
  • Research the different possible shopping carts.
  • Choose one.
  • Start building your webstore
  • Start building a blog
  • Open a  twitter account
  • Get a facebook page
  • And, while you’re doing all that, find a company who are willing to drop ship the product for you.

Drop shippers are a special type of wholesaler who allow you to buy from them only when you have sold to your own customer. You hold no stock and the drop shipper ships direct to the customer. Of course you don’t make as much profit as you would using more traditional methods, but you don’t have to risk money on stock, either. You can always move to traditional retail once your webstore is successful.

You have no idea what you’re doing, so you have to learn, and you learn as quickly as you can.

Once you’ve sorted out the products, you load them into the shop and off you go! You’re in business.

Only you’re not, because the Internet is a REALLY big place and your store is really tiny.  Unless you have lots of money to spend on advertising, you have to set to and start promoting your store. It’s out there, but no-one is visiting, you have no ‘traffic’.

And that’s when you realize that Internet business isn’t what you expected it to be.

You spend a lot more time writing articles and submitting them, tweaking your website and twittering, than you thought. And if you don’t like writing, it can seem like you’re in hell. But you’re not.

Because one day, as long as you don’t give up, you get that first sale. And you realize that all the head scratching, the learning, the long hours, the forcing yourself to do things you didn’t want to do and never expected to do,  has actually produced a result.

You keep going, promoting your store in every way you can, and the sales begin to increase, and soon there is money to reinvest, to get an assistant to do a couple of those things you don’t enjoy, and maybe even run the whole store. Because you went through the whole process yourself, you know exactly what an assistant needs to do. And so you take the next step.

You find another niche.
And you do it all again.

Because by now the goal is in sight. You know how it’s done, you can do it again, and again if need be. And when the store makes enough profit you have what everyone dreams of; freedom from the 9-5, financial security, a job you can’t be fired from.

But it won’t have been what you expected when you started.

Has your e-business turned out as you expected? Does the description above surprise you or disagree with your experience?

Leave a comment. I’d really like to know.

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9 Responses to “E-business – What Did You Expect?”

  1. Lesley, you are absolutely right. As with so many things that promise an easy fortune from home, ebiz is harder then what first meets the eyes. Lots of hours with very slow results at first. But, as with most things, to those who forge ahead and stick to it, the success is theirs.

    I love ready your posts and your openness in sharing you adventures.

    God bless and keep up the hard work!

    • lesley says:

      Thanks Daniel, for you comment and your support of the wordsmiths workshops. I am sorry they are coming to an end. Ebusiness does seem like a hard slog, but you have to keep the goal in mind, and realize that if you can do it, it is something you can pass on to your kids, including that new one you have on the way! What a world it would be if noone had to suffer the 9-5 existence, unless they wanted to?

      • That is so true Lesley. This post and the reasons behind it have me rethinking my own internet business. As you know, I picked out stoneware to sell purely based on the numbers and the low amount of competition but without knowing or realizing that I would have to also make video’s and write articles and tweet and do blogs that are related somehow to my stoneware niche. I find that I just can’t seem to motivate myself with talking about recipes and home decore using stoneware. The topics are not of interest to me and therefor it is carrying over into my writing.

        I’m almost to the point of chalking this site up as a learning experience and start a new site that is focused not on what may sell the best because of the numbers but instead is something I have an interest in myself and can have fun in making the videos, and enjoy writing about. I feel that the stoneware site was a good stepping stone that I may look to sell to someone that wants an established store.

  2. Hi Leslie,

    You have some good advices there for any beginner. I remember when i opened my first online store, i bought a domain and i expected to start selling in the first week. What a joke, right?

    It took me a few weeks to finish the technical part because i knew nothing about what a website’s made of, then a lot of work with the products, but when i finally got online i noticed no one knows i’m there.
    Now i’m just trying to get my SEO up to date to keep up. I don’t earn much from, but it’s enough to get by.

    Best regards,


  3. Maria Pavel says:

    It’s not a good thing starting a business when you don’t know yet what that business is.
    Normaly, you get the idea, you consider it good and worthy of using it.
    Vice versa does work sometimes, but it has fewer chances of success since you have to force yourself onto an idea you may not like, but consider profitable. Working on something you don’t like…

  4. Great article, and wonderful content throughout this blog. I will definitely be coming back again for more.

  5. I think you have described it all very well. It’s not as easy as most people seem to think it will be from all the hype that is out there.

    There are so many ways of promoting an online business that it pays to stick to a couple and get them working before moving on to others.

    I think Twitter can be a waste of time for traffic but is useful for building your brand.

  6. You have indeed taken your time to explain how an online business can be equally frustrating as lucrative as it seems. Well, yes indeed the first sale does relieve all the tension and frustration that has been endured to reach up to that mark but one should keep on on this journey, once he has reached this point.

  7. Adam Gardner says:

    The common notion amongst people today is that e-business helps people make money easily, without efforts and hence they hop in. But when they see their first paychecks, then they understand that it is not that easy as they had thought.

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