Starting An Online Business? Remember To Breathe.
In all the excitement of getting to market first and being the next internet sensation, it’s very easy to overlook the practical realities of launching a new online business. In the interests of minimising risk, not overcapitalising and avoiding calamity we’d suggest taking a measured approach is easily the best way forward. Below are 3 things to remember if you're planning to start a new online business.
Competitors aren’t necessarily watching you, and if they are, so what?
You’ve got a great new idea and you want to be first to market with it. It’s natural to think that someone else, somewhere has exactly the same idea and you’re in an arms race to get to market first. But consider this: there are thousands if not millions of practical business ideas floating around at any one time, and the chances of someone having your exact idea at the exact same time and actually working on the same idea concurrently to you are extremely slim. So slim in fact, that while it is something to perhaps beware of and provide you with just a little motivation to stay focussed and productive, it certainly isn’t a reason to make hasty decisions let alone give much thought at all.
And you know what? If someone out there is working on the same thing - so what? Competition is healthy. Do it better than them. Learn from them and their mistakes, turn it in to a positive. Just because you’re first to market doesn’t mean you’ll be the best. Google wasn’t the first search engine on the scene, but that didn't stop them..
However complicated you expect running your online business to be, triple it.
An online business is like an ecosystem full of interacting individual parts. If just one of those parts falters or fails, it can set off a chain reaction of expletives. Think of all the variables which come part in parcel with the likes of suppliers, buyers, sellers, contractors, web hosts, payment gateways, to name but a few. At any one time there’ll be at least 1 or 2 of your interdependent actors a little out of whack, ensuring your ride is anything but perfectly smooth as you once might have envisioned. And your online business will only ever be as good as the individual parts it is made up of, so before you start trying to take over the world, make sure your home base is strong, sturdy and robust.
Introduce new functionality gradually.
Have you noticed that really big websites like Air BnB or Facebook, provide a load more functionality now than they did say 3 years ago? If they introduce functionality over time, why should your website be any different? A lot of entrepreneurs feel the need to go to market with their end product - that is, the website in its final state with all the bells and whistles. Not only is this an extremely expensive route, but it massively increases your risk through overcapitalisation and over complication. There is a lot to be said for drilling down on the core functionality of your new online business, and doing it really well. Then as the website matures and demand for functionalities from your users becomes clear, you invest in introducing new functionality to meet demand. While it’s true that some internet users are fickle and cut throat in their willingness to ne’er return to a website if it didn’t meet their expectations, it’s also true that your best customers will see the potential in your online business if you do the simple things really well and demonstrate to them your willingness to improve its functionality over time.