Let’s talk about time.
I’ve wanted to write this article for a while now as I really need to get my thoughts on this topic out in public and hopefully help some new entrepreneurs on their journeys in creating an online business.
Time is a CRUCIAL element that everyone needs to understand before they even start thinking about creating an eBay, Amazon or eCommerce business. I don’t know whether it’s just a part of every entrepreneur’s mindset (probably) but most people are impatient (including me) and that alone is a big, big problem. Let me explain.
Let’s take an average person (let’s call him Joe) who has a full time job, savings of £3k-£5k and the desire to start their own online business. They do lots of research (for months, even years) before they are ready to dig into the process. They read all kinds of materials online, watch YouTube videos etc., where people say how they went from an employee to a business owner and how happy they are to be their own boss etc.
That’s all good! If anything, this gives a lot of motivation and confidence for that average person to start their business. But the problem is that usually these stories do not disclose the TIME it took for them to achieve that level of success. And in most cases you’ll be surprised how long it actually took them to transition from a full time job to being a business owner.
So here’s what happens – Joe has finally decided to take the plunge and change his life! He QUITS his job as he figures out that he can live on his savings for a few months and by that time his business should generate enough money to support him.
What a wise move, don’t you agree?
Now that Joe doesn’t have to go to work every day he will be able to put 100% effort into his business and that alone should be enough to make it work, right? As we all know that if you work hard and really, really want something – you’ll achieve it, right?
Unfortunately Joe forgot about a CRUCIAL part of the puzzle – Time.
You don’t go from zero to a full time income in a few months’ time by simply investing a few thousand pounds in stock – that’s not the way it works I’m afraid.
Yes, there are ways to do this in affiliate marketing, freelancing and similar types of businesses but NOT with selling physical products on eBay, Amazon or your own online shop. Obviously I’m generalising here as there can be a 1 out of 1000 success story where you come up with a genius product, somehow protect the IP and become rich. Yes, there will always be exceptions but I’m talking about general scenarios here.
So what happens with Joe is that he imports some products from China and lists them on eBay and Amazon. He starts to get those first sales in but the speed at which it happens doesn’t match his expectations and after 3 months – he’s out of money/savings and so stressed out about the whole situation that he calls it all quits and goes back to full time employment.
I feel sorry for Joe as it could have all been so different if only he had considered TIME more carefully!
I’m not saying that everyone is the same, like Joe – no. I have worked with many, many people who are very reasonable with their expectations and they usually say that they would be happy if they could replace their salary within 1-3 years’ time. Sometimes they say they’re even happy to wait longer as long as it’s going to happen eventually!
So the point that I’m trying to make here is that IF you start an online business, selling physical products with a very limited budget, you have to expect that it will take time for it to take off. By limited budget I mean budgets that are less than £5k – even £10k is not a massive budget nowadays.
Yes, if you have £50k to invest in products, you can pretty much create a full time income business within a few months’ time, but I’m afraid that won’t be possible with a small budget.
And the biggest mistake a person can make is to quit their job! That’s so stupid! When you do this – not only do you put you/your family at risk but you also put your future business at risk.
I have always said that you should keep your job and regular income for as long as possible as:
- This will remove unnecessary stress from you. You won’t have to think about how you’ll pay your bills, how you’ll feed your family. This is something only people who have been in business for some time understand – once you’re a full time business owner, the risk and responsibility lay entirely on your shoulders. And trust me, it’s not easy sometimes.
- It will allow you to continue to invest more money into your new business. When you start with a small budget, cash flow is always a problem – you can’t order enough items, in enough quantity, to speed up your growth as most money will always be tied in stock and some will be left for reserve. If you have a full time income – you can always add some more money to help your business grow when needed.
- You have a safety net if everything fails miserably. Yes, some people may view this as a disadvantage as they think that this will make them feel too secure and they won’t push hard enough with their business. I guess it depends on your personality but still – it doesn’t change the fact that if you have a job, you can always close down your operation and live the life you used to live.
I’m using a general scenario here as there will always be exceptions. Like young IT professionals living with their parents for example – they have basically no living expenses and can get a job in about 2 days – they don’t have much to lose! They can take those risks, sure! But most people who read my blog and purchase my products have families, responsibilities, and bills to pay.
So I strongly recommend that you DO NOT quit your job UNTIL you make at least half of your salary with your business!
You need to see that the business works, that it generates profit and is stable.
And this won’t happen in a matter of months! Usually it’s a 1-2 year timeframe so you have to be ready to be patient. You have to realise that TIME is actually your friend and not your enemy. In the grand scheme of things, 1-2 years is nothing really. Just think about all those years you have spent working for others…
Apart from quitting your job, I also recommend that you do not take out any “profits” from your business UNTIL you transition to a full time business owner position. Because every penny you take out of the business moves that transition day further away. You want to keep all money in the business, re-invest in new products, selling platforms, marketing etc. In fact, rather than take money out, I have personally always invested more and more in new businesses when I start them to grow them quicker! This sometimes goes to absurd levels for me personally, but that’s a story for another time.
If we talk specifically about selling on eBay & Amazon – first of all on eBay you’ll need to become a Top Rated Seller which will take at least 2-3 months.
Ok, good if you have already achieved that, well done! Then you have automatically cut your expected timeframe for creating a full time business down by 2-3 months.
Next – when you start selling a new product on eBay – it takes time for it to get “traction” – accumulate sales history, gain stable positions high up in search. You can’t do much about this – it just takes TIME!
Sure, if you have a massive budget and can sell thousands of units at the lowest price on eBay (taking a loss with each sale), then yes you can speed up this process but for most people that’s not a viable option.
Plus don’t forget that eBay, Amazon, and Google’s search algorithms can be glitchy too!
Just recently one of my 60DBP clients started a listing and for the first month the listing made just 2 or 3 sales and I couldn’t figure out why. Then, out of nowhere, in the second month the listing suddenly started to rank higher and higher in search and took the position I had expected it to be from day one and then finally regular sales started coming in.
Again – as you can see – there are things that are out of our control. Things and processes that take TIME! You just have to adapt to the fact that you won’t become a full time business owner within a few months.
Let’s take Amazon for example – it’s even worse than eBay (timing wise). On Amazon you actually have to wait much longer for your listings to get noticed. You have to go out and market your product outside Amazon (or within Amazon using PPC) to get those first sales and reviews in. Usually it takes 2-3 months to get those crucial first 5-10 reviews that really get a product started.
It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially with the recent change in Amazon’s terms and conditions that prohibits gathering incentivised reviews anymore. Previously you could simply order a service online and pay money for people to review your products on Amazon. That’s not possible anymore so you have to work hard to get those first, REAL reviews in! As without reviews, conversion rates and search rankings on Amazon will be poor.
Lastly – if you start an online shop, be prepared for an even longer battle, especially if you’re going to rely on SEO and natural Google traffic for it. It will take a long time for Google to index your site and it will take even longer to build a reputation for your site. It doesn’t matter how hard or how much you work on this, it simply takes time for all those things to take off and accumulate into that snowball effect when everything grows naturally.
Yes, if your strategy is based on using paid traffic – like Facebook or Google AdWords, you can generate sales very quickly, even for an eCommerce store! But usually it still takes a lot of time to optimise campaigns and make them profitable as PPC platforms are super expensive now – you really have to have a high margin and high conversion rate to make it work.
So whatever route you take, whatever selling platform you use, it will take TIME until you start seeing regular sales, never mind create a full time income. Just accept it and realise it’s all a normal part of the process. If you’re too impatient, then this type of business may simply not be for you.
Ok, that’s it for today.
A blog post about “nothing” but at the same time – one of the most important things you have to be aware of when starting a new business.
Just be realistic with your goals and targets – it will help you to better prepare for the journey. As starting your own business is definitely not a quick trip – it’s a long journey. And for true entrepreneurs like me, it’s a life long journey where you’re always looking for those new opportunities and have to be strong to not start a new business every month 🙂
I would love to hear your stories/thoughts/experience and questions on this topic so make sure to leave your comment below this post.
On Wednesday I will be back with a more technical/practical post – I will be covering Alibaba’s Trade Assurance process from A to Z! So stay tuned for that!
Have a great week everyone!