Most people who attempt to start their own online store fail.
Whether it is selling t-shirts, jewelry, gardening supplies, lemon squeezers or home-grown beauty products the majority will fail.
Let's call these people "The 99%."
Why do they fail?
Simply put, they're the ones who read stories that inspire them, but never realize the work required. Or they find endless reasons why they can't find the time to begin. They refuse to venture out of their comfort zones.
The good news though, is that a small number do make it through.
They are "The 1%."
It is these people that we read about and draw inspiration from.
What makes them different?
They went through the first stages too. But when they failed, they fought the self-doubt, got out of bed, dressed up and marched on.
They didn't succeed because of luck. Like every other entrepreneur, they had their share of insecurity and insanity--but they made it through the entrepreneurial maelstrom to create their own successful, online business.
They outlasted everyone.
Here are the typical 9 stages that the 99% go through:
1. Epiphany. One day, they wake up knowing in their heart that they absolutely hate their job, want to be master of their own lives, work in their pajamas and spend more time with their family.
2. Find The Idea. "The Idea" has been sitting in the back of their brain for years; they want to sell products online. They tell their friends and family "I'm going to sell my product online." Everyone says, "That sounds awesome. You should do that! You'll be rich!"
3. Line up the ducks. They get super-excited about The Idea, they start searching for product suppliers, create marketing plans, write lists and make-money goals. They spend weekends, nights and lunchtimes planning, planning and planning.
4. Build the store. They spend hours on creating the perfect brand and logo, thousands of dollars on building a store, throw all their products into the system and launch. They rub their hands together in anticipation of the cash to come rolling in.
5. They wait. No sales are coming. They check their website visitor tracking tool. No one is visiting their store. But why not!? The Idea is fabulous!
6. They panic. They start posting in forums seeking free advice -- "Why is no one buying from my store?" The experts tell them to buy advertising, buy search engine optimization, buy a better store, buy email marketing tools, buy links, buy more stuff to make more money!
7. Again, they wait. Still no sales are coming in. Perhaps one today and another next week. They check their tracking tool and can see visitors from India. But hardly any sales.
8. Get frustrated. Repeat steps 5 to 7 again and again.
9. They stop. Get depressed. Blame the Internet. Decide that it's not worth the trouble, plus a thousand other reasons. They quit.
The 1% go through those steps too, but here's what they do next (and what you can do too)...
1. Forgive yourself for previous failures. Be done stewing over it. Put it behind you. Everyone makes mistakes, but remember that the ones who continue to try again will succeed.
2. Commit yourself to success. Really convince yourself that you want to be part of the 1%. Know that bad days will come, but they won't make you quit.
3. Forget what's easy. Learn what works. Success stories do provide inspiration, but unless you are learning something from them, they don't help much. Find someone who doesn't only inspire, but actually mentors you. Those are good role models to follow. Reach out to them and say "Hello, can we be friends?"
4. Simplify your idea. Take your plan and cut it in half. Do it again. And again. Until you are left with one basic, straightforward product or concept that reflects your strongest idea.
5. Seek advice. Brutal feedback is invaluable. So get on the phone and talk to 50 people about your product. Ask them for honest advice, and don't take offense when they provide it. Write it down and find the recurring themes and patterns in their advice. The repeating themes will help you hone your products into something that others will truly want to buy. (Tip: You can only find the repeating themes if you ask 50, not 5 people.)
6. Build a platform for your voice. Write 5 lengthy articles (Tip: Over 2,000 words each.) about your product and the idea behind it. Take into account the 50 conversations you had. Add them to your store's blog. This will you help you hone your marketing ideas, the mission behind your business and find your 'voice'.
7. Reach out. Find communities, blogs, forums, subreddits, channels and people online who are interested in your product AND your idea. Reach out to them via email, Twitter, Facebook and phone. Do it sincerely with your "voice." Do it tirelessly. For hours, days, and weeks.
And one extra step...
8. Check your sales… and don't forget to celebrate it!
The real secret to being in the 1% is in your willingness to try one more time.
About the Author: Katrina McKinnon is getting closer to The 1%. Her online store created revenue of $90k last year, and is on track for $210k in 2014. You can learn how and follow her path at www.SmallRevolution.com.
Photo Credit: mag3737 via Compfight cc