8 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My eCommerce Business

– Hey, what’s up everybody? Anton here, from dropshiplifestyle.com. And today I’ll be spending
a bunch of time working on some training we’re doing
that’s gonna be released at the same time as my new book. And when I was doing that,
it really got me thinking of, like, the beginning, right? When I First got into
E-commerce back in 2007, and specifically it got
me thinking of the things that I wish I would’ve
known way back then. That would’ve given me a big jumpstart. There were eight things that stood out. So today, in this episode
of Drop Ship Weekly, I’m gonna share those eight
things that I wish I knew back when I started in E-commerce. (upbeat guitar music) So the first thing is what
I call the 90/10 rule. It’s similar to the 80/20, but I do 90/10. And this is basically
something that I apply when it comes to our marketing efforts. So, how we’re trying to attract
people to become customers, and even things we’re doing
once they’re on our site. So, where we’re spending
money, what we’re doing in terms of conversions, how
much testing we’re doing. For the formula that I
like to do, it’s 90% going into what is working and 10%
on what is experimental, right? So, let’s just say hypothetically
that Google Ads is making up, right now, all of our revenue. It’s all coming from
Google Ads. Well okay. Maybe rightfully, I would
start thinking, “You know what? “We should test some
different platforms out. “What if, you know, knock
on wood, something happens “with Google and we either
get too much competition “or they decide they
don’t like us anymore.” Right? So back in the day, my thought
process was very similar to that, and it was okay,
now let’s start spending in other places. And really what ended up
happening is we were taking too much of the main budget,
not just the money budget, but like time budget, like our effort. And we were diverting too much
away from what was working and putting it into all these
little buckets of testing, like okay, well we should
do this and this and this and this. And what happened is
too much of what worked was being pulled away,
again between time and money to be put into other things as projects that we were testing. Now what we do now and what
I believe everybody should do is only take about 10% away. So again, whatever your thing
is, whatever is working, you wanna basically double down on that. You wanna, you know, put
your foot on the gas. You wanna make that as best as it can be. And you still do wanna be
experimenting, but again in my opinion, only
about 10% of your budget in terms of money and in
terms of time should go towards those experimental things. If you wanted to get into,
you know, Facebook Ads and again, Google was
your moneymaker right now, you should not take 30% of
your budget and throw it towards Facebook this
month to see what happens because that’s gonna take
away from what is proven. So again, 90/10 rule. That’s the first thing I wish I knew. It would’ve allowed me to
put more of my own time, energy, and money into what
is working and still be able to have this playground
where we’re learning about what may come next
or what could be there as a safety net. Now the second thing that
I wish I knew earlier on was that when you outsource
tasks and when you hire people, and when you take things off your plate and have other people do them for you, they can actually improve. And this might sound obvious
to you, but I’ll tell you. My first few years in
business, I was like, terrified to let anybody do anything. Like, I was doing, you know, emails. I was answering phone calls. I was doing every single part of it. Because I thought if I
hire somebody, you know, what if they tell the
customer the wrong thing, or what if they steal
my credit card number, or what if they don’t answer
the phone and we miss out on all these orders, or what
if they offer bad support. I had all these things
running through my head of why somebody else
couldn’t do what I did. And finally what happened for
me, the reason I started to was we got a breaking point
in the E-commerce businesses where I just literally
couldn’t do it anymore. It was too much. There
was too much volume. So that’s when I started to outsource. And I, firstly, which I
recommend every one do as well, I firstly outsourced the customer service. And instead of, you
know, everything breaking like I thought it would, guess what. Our customer service
was dramatically better. We had happier customers. They were being responded to faster. The customer service people
liked customers a lot more than I do, so they were
nicer to everybody, and it grew the business. So this thing that for years,
again I was so hesitant and like, terrified to do,
which is let go of some of the operations, as soon as I did it, it actually was better than it was before. It was better than when I did it myself. So I wish I would’ve
known that earlier on, and wish I would’ve, I guess,
trusted that earlier on. And what that would’ve
allowed me to do is have more time myself, in those early years, to focus on more of expansion
instead of expansion and operations. So, hopefully that helps
you if you’re kinda feeling that way right now, like you
have to do it all yourself. The truth is you really don’t. There’s people that are probably better at at least some of what you
are doing than you are. Next thing, speaking of people, okay. I’m calling this one people lie. And maybe, again, you’ve
had experience with that so you’re thinking yeah, of course. Well, I don’t know why but
like, I started young, you know, my first E-commerce store
when I was 21 years old. And I just always thought
that people were honest. You know, I thought that, when people- And I know like, people lie
to each other and what not. But I thought like, from, you
know, a customer perspective, right? I thought they like, just
normal people shopping online. I thought if somebody had a bad experience they would tell you. I thought if somebody was
happy they would tell you. What I didn’t think is
people would do things like, you know, place fraudulent orders, and I didn’t think that
people would, you know, get something delivered to their home where there was literally
something signed by them saying I received it,
and then they would say, “No I never got this thing.”, right? And I let this happen
for years where like, maybe not years. Maybe the first year. But I let it happen where
like, it was driving me crazy. ‘Cause I was like, how
are so many things like, you know, with like, the
way customers are, you know, messaging us. And some of the things
they were saying like, how can this be happening. And it took me a while, but I
finally realized, guess what. People are not ethical,
and it’s really sad. And I think it’s gotten
worse because, you know, we’ve just seen it in different businesses with how people are so
confident and almost like feeling that it’s fine to rip people off. Like, it’s crazy. Like,
not even E-commerce waited. But this video. Somebody will probably make another video that’s literally copying
exactly what I’m saying and pretend it’s their own. And people are totally okay
with that for some reason. Like, it’s really sick, but there’s, yeah, there’s sick people out there. So, when you get into
business, you can’t have this naive attitude like
I had, where everybody is always honest all of the
time, and you can take them for their word. Because there’s some bad people out there, and you can definitely do
things to protect yourself when it comes to different
things like orders and making sure that, you
know, they’re actually legit. Now there’s a lot better
fraud prevention tools that are available than there
were when I first started. Shopify has built-in fraud protection. There’s also different
apps that you can use, and that helps on that side. And then, you know, on
the same line with that, like, when people do, kind
of, you know, freak out and if you get like a nasty
email or a nasty phone call, I used to take it personally. I used to think like,
again, you know, we really must have messed up. But I realized there just are
some sick people out there, and being able to literally
brush it off as soon as the interaction is
over has really helped. I might’ve taken it a
little too personally for my first year or so in business. So just know that you’re
gonna deal with cheats and frauds and con men in your life, and as a business owner, you’ll
be able to just write some of them off. And if it ever gets too bad, you’ll have fraud prevention
apps to get your money back. And if anybody ever
rips your business off, I have another video, actually a podcast, on what to do if you get ripped off. And it’s talking about,
you know, different ways to actually get money from
people if they’re making money using your stuff, or just
to how to get them shut down with whoever is processing
what it is they’re using. So people lie. Number four is numbers don’t. You’ve probably heard that before. It’s in a bunch of different rap songs. They love that. But yeah, numbers don’t lie, right? One of the things that
I neglected early on was tracking. And I’m talking about
tracking where my visitors were coming from. Tracking which visitors were buying what. Tracking how long people
had known about us before they bought. And I neglected this because
money was just, you know, it was coming in. I was spending on all
these different ad sources, and we were profitable,
so I didn’t, you know, I just didn’t think. Again, this is like naive,
and maybe this is something you need to learn this you’re new. Again, it’s what I wish
someone would’ve told me way back then. But tracking everything
is just so important, and not just tracking things
where like, for example, you have Google Analytics
set up and you look at it, and you’re really like, not confident. You’re like, “I wonder if
this is accurate or not. “It doesn’t feel right.” No, you need to get
tracking set up to the point where you are confident
enough when you see a report that you can make decisions off it. Because when I’m saying numbers don’t lie, I mean you might have in your head- Let’s just go back to
the Facebook Ads example. Maybe you just think like,
“Wow, Facebook is doing well “for me, like it’s gotta be. “I see how many people,
you know, like my stuff. “Like, I’m sure it’s doing well.” Well if you have a report
in Google Analytics with E-commerce tracking
enabled, and you see that maybe Facebook, it’s
showing, is, you know, losing you, you know, maybe
it’s like -30% compared to ad Spend every month, you
need to be able to look at that and make a clear decision of,
okay, do I just cut Facebook? Do I totally change everything? But you need that data, and
you need, more importantly, data that you’re confident
in, so when you see numbers like that you can accept
them for what they are and actually implement the
changes that need to be changed so you can just grow faster. Again, I wish I knew that. Something I spend a lot
of time and energy on now and something I recommend you do as well. Fifth thing that I wish
I knew back in the day is that the money is in the list. I’ll change that now. For the past, you know, few
years the money is in the lists, with an s on the end. And what I mean by that is
email lists, Facebook lists for E-marketing, you know,
Google lists for E-marketing, Pinterest if you use them,
basically every platform. What you should be doing when
people come to your website is capturing their data. Now for emails, simple enough, right? We’re collecting their
email addresses by doing all different types of either
giveaways or incentives or even just through abandoned
cards sent through customers. But, you know, when I
first started, again, I never thought that email
marketing was important. The only emails that I
captured for years were from customers, people that
were checking out and buying, which is a great list
to have, but I lost out on a ton of money. At this point, email marketing
makes up between 30% and 40% of our revenue, and it’s
because, again these people we can reconnect with. We could send them emails,
we can make different offers, and we can bring them back,
whether it’s a day later or five years later. So definitely focus on
growing an email list. Yes, even in 2019. Start focusing on that today. Not just with a little
basic opt-in box that says hey get my free, you know, newsletter. Make it like, hey you can
get a discount code or enter to win a free $100
coupon or whatever it is. But incentivize it, start
building email lists, and then, of course, have the
Facebook code on your website so you can remarket to people on Facebook. Same thing with Google and
basically anywhere else that you wanna run ads. Having those remarketing
lists has just lead to very, very, very high
return on ad spends, and it’s not worth neglecting. Something I had no idea
about when I first started, and now is a massive focus
and source of revenue and profitability. Next thing. The sixth thing I wish I knew is that everything is negotiable. Now when I started, my goal
like, I obviously I wanted to make money and have, you know, margin, but the thing I really
was looking at is like, how do I get revenue as high as possible. And what’s good about that
is you can have a business that’s generating, you know,
200k a month, 300k a month, 500k a month. But the thing is like,
when you’re at that size, you don’t like, it sounds weird, but like, numbers don’t seem real, you know. Like, you’re like, paying off
your credit card every day from 30k of orders and
like, literally every day it’s getting built like
that, and just things kinda like, get- I don’t know. They feel fake. Like, a dollar seems the same as 100,000. And I know that sounds
crazy. It’s not to be cocky. It’s just when you have huge numbers going through your accounts every
day, like, an instant thing. Like, it just totally changes. So, what I’m saying with
everything is negotiable is if you’re doing that, right? If you’re starting to hit
these huge, huge, huge numbers, you might just stay at them and be happy. But what I realized after
a few years in business is, let’s just say you’re
operating at a million dollars in, you know, top line
money, and you’re netting, you know, 20%, so you’re
netting $200,000 a year, that’s your profit. Well there are some very, very
simple things you could do that could add 5% more
margin, maybe even more. So instead of making $200,000 that year, you could make $250,000
for literally not doing anything different, for
sending a few emails. Because everything is negotiable. So the main things that
saved us a ton of money, and just like, WOAH, like,
next year just instantly made a ton more, were getting
different pricing structures with suppliers, so negotiating
different pricing terms, sometimes only around the
holidays, sometimes forever. And another thing is shipping
because shipping isn’t a fixed cost, right? Like, you know, it varies from
everything that’s going out, so there’s usually a lot of
room there to save money, especially if you’ve never tried before. And negotiating that, especially
like, if you just did one or the other, you can make
a ton more money this year. If you do both, you could,
you know, have enough to buy a new sports car at the end of the year. Again, assuming your revenues
are already up there. But either way, you should
do that now because, again, it’s just extra money in your pocket, in your bank account every year. Seventh thing. This I actually have a
whole training lesson on in my Drop Ship blueprint
because it’s that important. And I call this one Usability over Design. Now I was, you know, my
first store was disgusting. Like, visual wise, like,
it was literally me trying to figure out how to use
Yahoo stores back then. Like, no idea, like black and red colors, and like, it was terrible. But as soon as I started
making money, I was like, okay now I’m gonna hire some,
you know, fancy company to make this beautiful website
and have all this like, cool looking stuff on it. And again, what I
learned after doing that, probably too many times, is
that having a pretty website with a whole bunch of
animations and all that does not make you any more money. What people care about is usability. They care about information.
They care about trust. So yeah, don’t, you know,
I would’ve told myself, again back in the day,
like, don’t spend thousands and thousands of dollars on
this gorgeous site design. Instead just make sure
when you go to it like, people can actually find what they want, they can add it to their cart,
they can enter their payment information, and they can
have a good experience. Like, it’s so much more
important than the vanity of having it look good. So I wish I knew that. Hopefully, that helps you. And finally, the eighth
thing, the final thing that I’ll share in this
video that I wish I knew when I first started is
that you should always build to sell. There was a great book that
came out, probably right at like, I don’t know,
five years ago, called “Build to Sell”. I’ll link to that in the description. But, basically like, when I
first started I didn’t know my businesses would ever even be sellable. So I was doing things
like, you know, I started and I was like, oh okay, I’ll use my, you know, personal checking account, and I was a sole proprietor. And then made some money,
and then, okay now I have a S-Corporation, and now
I have a business account. But I also have like, another
business that I’m doing and I’m using that same account. And basically things got like co-mingled. And while that’s fine if you’re
not gonna sell the business it’s not good if you ever want to. And maybe you’re thinking
you never want to, but I never thought I wanted to and I did. So my first network of stores that I sold. So What I wish I would’ve done is had- Okay, this is the business. This is the business bank account. This is for, you know,
E-commerce stores A, B, C, D for that network. And then if I wanna launch
E-commerce stores, you know, X, Y, Z, I’m actually gonna have a whole different bank account for that. I’m gonna have a different
credit card for that. That way if I ever sell
stores A, B, and C, and normally they would
be interrelated niches, so you would sell them as a
network, then that would have its own accounting, right? It would have its own bank statements. The credit card would all be set for that. That way if you ever do wanna sell, again, everything would be so clear. You could talk to a broker. They would have a nice
package of your financials. They would give it to
the prospective buyer. They would look at it. They would say, “This makes sense. “I’m gonna give you a good multiple.” And everybody is gonna make money. Now if you do it the other
way, you have to start pulling things out, and trying to
figure out what is what, and it just gets messy. So it’s as easy as opening, you know, another checking account and
having another credit card just to separate things. Make sure if you wanna sell,
you have that separate thing that doesn’t get co-mingled. So those are the eight guys. Quick recap. 90/10 rule. Put 90% of your efforts, both
financially and time wise, into what is proven to work. Put 10% into what you’re
experimenting with. The second is handing off
tasks and hiring people can actually improve the
operations that you might think you’re the only one that could do. The third is people lie
whether that’s crazy customers or, you know, demented
competitors that just rip your stuff off and pretend to be you. The fourth is numbers don’t lie. So set up tracking,
tracking that you trust, so you can make data
driven decisions off that. The fifth is the money is in the lists, that includes email lists
and remarketing lists. The sixth is everything is negotiable, and you can easily make
more money just by sending a couple of emails or
making a couple phone calls. The seventh is usability over design. Don’t focus only on cosmetics. Make sure people can get what
they want out of your website. Meaning find the products,
add it to their cart, easily buy, and trust what is there. And finally build to sell
because you never know when you might wanna cash
out, and you wanna make that process as easy as possible, and you wanna make sure your
business is worth as much as possible. So hope you found that valuable guys. As always if you did, please
do give the video a thumbs up. Leave a comment and let me know below. If you’re brand new to
Drop Ship Lifestyle, check out DropShipLifestyle.com/webinar. I have a free two and a
half hour training there that takes you through the
seven steps that we use every time we launch a new store. And the book, if you’re
wondering, it is coming out in June, and if you
follow Drop Ship Lifestyle you’re probably on one of our lists, either a remarketing
list or the email list. So you’ll definitely
be hearing about that. So, see ya everybody. Have a good day. And I’ll talk to y’all
(upbeat guitar music) on the next episode of Drop Ship Weekly. Bye.
(upbeat guitar music)

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22 thoughts on “8 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My eCommerce Business

  1. This video is so valuable. Thank you Anton for your mentorship. I'm a member of DSL and these weekly videos add so much additional value.

  2. Hi Anton. I'm new to you, and your YouTube channel…. I want a copy of your new book !! Please advise. Thanks!

  3. Why would someone buy from a Shopify site over Amazon? This is the main reason I'm not jumping into this.

  4. Like your webinar signed up 2+ hours long – Ha!

    You are the best !!! Others just talk & talk too much.
    I like your format & feel your content is legit 100%.
    Could you do a video/podcast on re-targetting point you made please 🙂 ?
    Cheers from UK

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