How Can I Open an Online Store? Are You Sure You Want To?

If you’ve been asking yourself “How can I open an online store?” There’s little doubt that you’ve been excited in some way by the prospect of earning money by sitting at home and letting your own online store exploit the earning potential of the internet in order to passively generate income for you. Perhaps you’re an artist or craftsman and you believe that making your creations available to an Internet based market will translate into sales that you’re currently not experiencing. And, you could very well be right. It’s certainly true that there is no shortage of people doing just that right now, and doing it successfully. But, before committing time and effort to this venture, it’s important to be realistic and ask yourself if opening an online store is right for you.

The idea of e-commerce still seems to be experiencing a holdover from the 1990s in many people’s perception. A sort of “build it and they will come” perception — the idea that if you can simply get some sort of on-line store set up and running, you can sit back and people will just make their way to your online store and the sales will just start happening. The amazing thing is that there was a time when this pretty much was the case. Unfortunately, that time has long since passed. But, the perception that it’s still there, in some way, seems to linger. The reality is that was then and this is now. The internet marketplace has developed and become highly competitive. A “build it and they will come” attitude in the present ecommerce business environment is an exercise in a pre-assured failure. Actually opening your online store is really only a first step. And, if you stop there, your own online store will assuredly be doomed to fail.

It takes knowledge, skill, time and effort to get people to actually visit your online store — knowledge, skill time and effort, or a whole lot of money, or both. You have to know how to effectively advertise and promote your online store and put in the time and effort to do so. You have to know how to make your online store effectively compete with its competitors, and you need to put in the time and effort to make it compete.

So, are you ready for that? Have you acquired that knowledge? Are you willing to put in that time and effort? If you’ve been asking yourself “How can I open online store?” Have you also been asking yourself whether or not you’re sure you actually want to? Have you been asking yourself whether or not you’re sure you have what it takes and are ready and willing to commit to making your own online store work?

With all of that said, here are a couple of pointers for figuring out if you’re the type of person who might want to think twice about opening your own online store:

(1) Inexperience with operating a website — It takes technical know-how to operate a website. If you’re thinking about opening your own online store, understand that there will be times when things go wrong — there will be, for instance, updates that need to be installed for the online store software you’re using. Such updates do not always go smoothly. Installing a new design template, for instance, might result in CSS compatibility issues. If you don’t know what CSS is, or what I mean by “CSS compatibility issues”, then what would you do if such a problem were to arise? You would have two choices: Fix the problem yourself, or pay someone else to fix it for you. If you’re not experienced in such matters you simply wont be able to handle the problem yourself. You’ll need to pay someone to handle it. This can get very expensive in a hurry, and if your online store is new, the amount of expense involved could very easily eat into your revenue so much that your online store will experience a period of inviability for a stretch long enough that you just can’t afford to keep it running. If you’ve been asking yourself “How can I open an online store?” You need to also be asking yourself: Do I have the technical skills to make it work? Or, do I have enough capital to pay someone who has the technical skills to do it for me? Do I have enough capital to maintain and absorb the kind of losses that this will possibly create until my online store gets through the start-up phase?

(2) Inexperience with marketing — Getting your online store up and running is one giant leap in operating an online store. But, it’s one very small step in operating a successful online store. The name of the game is marketing. Opening your own online store will be a huge waste of time and effort if you can’t get enough visitors to your online store to make it viable. It’s ALL about advertising, promotion and marketing. That’s your business. You don’t make money by operating an online store website. You make money by successfully promoting an online store website that you operate. If you, right now, don’t know the first thing about how you’re actually going to attract visitors to your online store then opening your own online store very likely isn’t for you. At least not at this point in time. You’re going to have to try to learn how to effectively promote your online store as a very first step.

(3) The requirement of guaranteed success — There are no guarantees. The harsh reality is that no matter what your online store is probably going to fail. Most do. If you absolutely can’t justify, or don’t want to, put forth the time and effort it’s going to take to operate a successful online store just to realize some months down the road that it’s never going to work and gambling all of that time and effort is going to turn out to be fruitless, and you can’t live with that, then don’t do it. There is always risk – always. There are no guarantees. Successful business people know that the key to success is about doing what is required to minimize risk — not eliminating it. You CAN’T eliminate risk. It’s not possible. In opening your own online store you will put up your time and effort as stakes, and your gamble might not pay off. If you’re not open to that — if you require a guarantee — then it’s not for you.

(4) You’re looking to get rich quick — If that’s what you’re looking for then forget it. Forget it right now. It wont happen. I promise you. If you open an online store, you will not get rich quick. You wont. It will not happen. Take that to the bank. Opening your own online store is a workable business model that can, if executed wisely and intelligently, lead to very lucrative revenues. But, it absolutely, positively will not happen overnight, nor without effort and dedication. It’s a business, and if its to be successful it will require development. There WILL be set-backs. There WILL be lean periods. There WILL be problems and hurdles that will need to be overcome. It WILL require time.

How can I open an online store?A colleague of mine, quite a number of years ago, started an online store in his spare time selling obscure, hard to find ‘underground’ books and videos. Books and videos that you pretty much couldn’t find anywhere else. Things which dealt with occult and counter-culture topics, and what not. He eventually built his online store into a business which was successful enough that he quit his day-job and lived entirely off the revenue produced by his online store alone — and lived very well. After a number of years he ended up selling his online store for seven figures. Sounds pretty good, no? You’d like to do that, right? Well, let me tell you: He ran that online store for just shy of three years before he saw his very first month where he took in more money than the business cost him to run. It wasn’t until his 33rd month in business that his business actually experienced its first month in the black. For 32 months straight he operated entirely in the red — putting out more money every month than he was taking in just to keep his online store going. It was a further three full years and a couple months before he was able to quit his regular job. Are you willing to do that?

Now, of course, I’m not saying that will be your experience. My colleague’s story is certainly not typical. But, if you have your eye to getting rich quick, it wont work. It just wont. If that’s what you’re expecting you’ll be disappointed. You can be very successful with your own online store, but like all legitimate, successful businesses it will take time, effort and dedication.

But, don’t be discouraged!

Don’t take this to mean that the prospect of starting and operating your own successful online store is unattainable, however. It most certainly is not. Many people experience wonderful success with their own online store. These are simply things you need to consider. The purpose of pointing these things out is not to discourage you — and, they really shouldn’t discourage you. It’s merely to illustrate that you must be realistic. Going into opening your own online store with a hope for success is not delusional — not by a very long shot. But, going into opening your own online store with a hope for easy and absolutely assured success most certainly is delusional. However, if you’re smart, dedicated and willing to put forth the time and put in the effort, opening your own online store could very well be the first step toward realizing your dreams. You just need to be smart about it and avoid unrealistic expectations.

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