Let us start with the bad news. People like to touch before they buy, and that is bad for an online business trying to get off the ground, quickly. Accentuating doodads on a saffron-dyed, “ultimate” nightwear ensemble might be appealing to the eye lost in the tendrils of a shiny iPad screen, but like a ghost that one can’t touch, it will take second place even to the vintage-style accoutrement behind a glass above the pavement. While the rate of online store sales has exceeded those of brick and mortars, accounting for an almost 15% uptick in the U.S. in 2018, and 18% globally, according to Digital Ecommerce 360, the odds of making it big, at least quickly, are small. The saturation of the market, while good for the consumer—what with choices now available not only in terms of what to buy but where and when—means that the new entrepreneur must be more creative in finding a lamp that will shine a light through the thicket, or be armed with a larger megaphone to be seen and heard.
The good news, the uptick or the upside, however we creatively term it, is that there is a saturation of the market. Counterintuitive as it might seem, the fact that so many online stores are opening their digital doors is a signal of e-market success. Digital window-shopping is now a thing and growing in appeal, especially in an era of globalization—regardless of whether you see this quite-politicized topic and/or trend as negative or positive—since we now have the world as our store. With exceptions—there are always exceptions—we can get anything from any corner that allows for digital sales. Further good news is the significance of the vast number of online stores. This means that the once-impassable doors, reserved formerly only to a few, are wider than before and taking as many prisoners as wardens. In such a new map, there is a chance for personal success, however you see that success, regardless of the risks.
Yet, don’t hold your breath. Success is behind the aforementioned thicket, and the opportunities to it narrow down the constricted lane of the e-market world. Competition is brisk—for we always compete, whether we know it or not, whenever we price an item at a lower rate than someone else selling the same item. What is good for the consumer is not always good for the entrepreneur. These are battles we must fight and face with great resolve—more than that, an adventurous spirit. No climber of the Everest ever looked up and said, “I don’t have the spirit to do this!” Without trying to sound like the psychologist I am not, there is a truth, a business truth, in my allusion to the positive, or adventurous, spirit, and why we should never take that climb, or that dive, without it. This is our driver, and an entrepreneur’s biggest asset. It is what will determine failure or success.
The Moment of Success
The upside of the e-market climber is that moment when success is felt at last, the great story that comes with it, and the sharing of that success with our loved ones. Yet the downside is tied to this upside with an umbilical cord of iron. Unless you are handed a fortune, the wherewithal to launch a large campaign, and to pay people who will be at your beck and call to inject their passion and creativity into your own dreams, this downside is the most common road an entrepreneur takes. Down said road there are many things we must give up, the most important are time and money.
Unless you have a large number of followers on social media, who trust you and like you besides, money talks in business. Never believe that your friends, regardless of how much they love you, will clean your path for you—not as well as you wish them to at least, or as passionately as you think good friends who love you ought to. Aside from a couple of recommendations pointing to our venture, not much can be expected of them, unless you pay them. Yup. The way we get our enemies to hold their tongue on “compromising secrets” about us, is the way we get our friends to open their mouths. Money works with enemies and friends. Funny how that works.
Money also works toward building a reputation. The good news is that it is not a lot of money. Oftentimes, $5 will go a long way. Welcome to the other side of the coin. An entrepreneur is also a consumer. The saturation of the e-market means that there are many resources for you to take the world by the horns a little more cheaply. Fiverr and Freelancer—no affiliation whatsoever from me—are just two examples of the e-market’s carpet-bombing of brick and mortar retail sales, even if retail still wears the crown at the time of this article—it is that touching before buying phenomenon I alluded to before. What I mean by reputation is not simply the good and honest standards you apply in your business, but how widely you are known on top of that. Garnering such reputation requires a few pennies—or wads of dough, depending on your ambitions. I don’t mean to carry a trident of negativity, but reputation is hard to build. Good intentions and an honorable character count as little to the consumer on the onset as they do to a parent looking for someone to watch the children for a night. References are important, a “reputation,” a something to hang on to for security and assurances.
Building your online store digital brick by digital brick brings us to the other downside: time, which is, as the old adage goes, money. Unless you thrive in challenges, yet even if you do, you’ll lose money and time building your store, as well as strategizing and researching, more than you will selling. In building Urban Confection, my store, I’ve come across several lonely days, besides days of hunger in my pursuit of happiness, and have lost a bit of money on the way. As to my success, it has been questioned by me, but I have gone further than many who have undertaken the same path. The learning has been exciting and educational, the feeling, I’m sure, of every new astronaut landing a seat within a space shuttle, even if it is scary. The testing of my brain cells firing off sparks in solving problems is nothing short of exciting. The downside will only ever upend the upside when the vision or the spirit is lost. As entrepreneurs, we must follow the guide of the eagle, who sees its prey a mile away, and never loses sight of it. Even the odds against the cheetah hunting prey are also large, despite its speed and skill. While the e-market world is strong and keeps growing—yes, even taking down many—the chances that it will keep on living are strong. We must cherish the saturation and see it as an opportunity, since that means that we can fail more than once—and such is the opportunity of a lifetime. Who at other times has had the opportunity to fail so many times? Competition is good, a large competition, the type that the e-market offers. As long as the boat is afloat, and we’re not on the same one, there is a chance we can at last succeed.