I’ve run a few businesses in the past, and can tell you from first hand experience, it is no joke. I ran a physical products business using WordPress, and WooCommerce. I went from focusing on just design (pre business), to focusing on everything (while running business).
Before starting the business, I was aware of the technology needed to make an online business—e-commerce—happen, but knowing and doing are two VERY DIFFERENT THINGS.
When reading the recent report my colleagues put together on the pains, and needs SMBs (small business owners) face, it all felt very familiar and accurate.
In todays landscape starting an online business has a VERY low barrier to entry. Depending on what platform you start with ex: wordpress.com, you only need a few dollars per month to get running—around $8 if you’re going for the premium plan. If you want to do it on the very cheap, there’s a bit more labor involved, but you can spin up WordPress (the software) on a cheap hosting platform, and get a discounted domain (you can probably find somewhere that offers the first year for nothing). That’s it, you’re now online. If you chose the latter, you would need to install WooCommerce, and a payment processor like stripe.
It generally feels good once you’re online. You have your domain, host, and are ready to go. BUT, no one ever tells you about all the other components. Like, ok, you now have a website—a marketing and distribution channel. People all over the world can now find you, and purchase—or sign up— for what you’re offering. Issue is, what does your site look like? What about the copy? what about the photography? How are you presenting the value you’re offering?
Let’s say you have at a baseline an eye for design, and have created a great looking site. Are you selling a physical item? Do you have the products manufactured? How will you fulfill the items? What shipping options will you provide your customers? Is your LLC registered? Have a P.O Box (aka fake office address)? What about your business bank account? What if people have questions, do you offer customer support? What’s the turn around time from when a person orders, and it’s delivered? Don’t forget, we live in an Amazon prime world. Will the manufacturer dropship? Will you manage fulfillment? Will it be managed from out of your house, an office, or a warehouse? Will you fulfill all the orders? Will you go to the post office everyday, or will the mail man pick up your items from where you’re located?
Ok, let’s say you have all that down, how will people find you? Are you tracking visits with Google Analytics? Do you have Facebook Pixel installed? What about all the other platform pixels, and codes? Know how to use Adwords? Keyword targeting? Write compelling advertising? Have a newsletter set up? Using Mailchimp, or one of the other 10+ options out there? Do you know how to use those tools? What’s your market strategy? Online, offline? All comes down to this question: You’ve built it, but how and from where will they come?
These are a few—not all—of the things a small business owner has to think about. This didn’t factor in their personal life, health, family, e.t.c. Being a small business owner is a 24/7 thing. Full skin in the game, all risk (if the SMB is all in), sink or swim. Society highlights unicorns, venture-backed companies that raise millions, which gives them a large runway that helps with sleeping comfortably at night. Yes, I know, there’s still risk, but it’s with someone else’s money. The small business owners we talked with don’t have that luxury. They are the truest form of small business, real people, not Silicon Valley startups.
That’s why the statements from the report (see below) aren’t shocking. These are common concerns, frustrations, and thoughts of bootstrapped business owners everywhere.
One day if I could just do this, sell my work, and not have to juggle jobs and worry about bills, medical bills. That would be a goal, for sure.
I hate trying to manage. Doing books, accounting. But you have to, you know? I have to know how much money I have to work with. Can I pay my bills? Can I get more supplies? I am horrible with budgeting, but I do it because I have to–and some months I’m better at it than others. But I’m always thinking ‘is there an easier way?’.
I have four clients. That’s all I can handle, really. If I take on more than that, time becomes too much of a factor. Things get spread too thin. I’m not good for my clients, or good for me. Too stressed. And those four clients, that’s before any of the other work I have. So everything else has to fit around that…bookkeeping, planning. I juggle.
People say I should do YouTube. People say I should do a lot of different things…but I don’t know what’s best, you know? I want to learn, but sometimes don’t know where to go. Or what I need? But definitely…knowing more would help.
I know I need to be writing articles. I need somebody to write articles for me. And I need somebody to help place them, put them where they need to go. Manage the back linking. Do that for me. I hate writing articles. I despise it. I’d love help with that.