If only we could go back in time… I would go back 3 years ago and give some sage advice as a first-time business owner. These are some words of wisdom I would give to myself. This article is some advice for first-time business owners.
It’s been a very educational past three years, to say the least… My smartphone must have picked up that I was having a rough time at work. It showed me a video asking if I was fed up with working for someone else. To which I answered a resounding YES!
The video was about eCommerce and using a CMS (Content Management Software) called Shopify. By using such software one can build a website and sell products. I had past experience with building websites on platforms like Weebly, Wix, and WordPress. However, Shopify had many features that these other websites lacked for eCommerce. Features like payment gateways and apps to help to sell products.
Failure is an opportunity to learn
So I first started a website called Ebisu Front. I started driving traffic with Facebook ads and tested different products I found from Chinese Suppliers. After about 3 or 4 different products I finally found something that people wanted to buy. So I had a sale on Arduino in which the copy read, Free Arduino, Just pay for shipping. Of course, I made my money on the shipping cost at a profit of $1.30 after advertising costs.
I had a few people say that this isn’t technically free because of the shipping, in which case I was very honest and said that is where I make my money in retail. It did get people’s attention though which is the point of advertising copy.
The folly of my advertising strategy was focusing all my efforts on Facebook. By doing so I did build a decent following of people but over time my ads became less profitable in ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). My hope was to do what McDonald’s does in upselling people for the accessories that go with the Arduino. However, most people were there for the Arduino only.
Then came the self-doubt suicide and Facebook mistakes. Frustrated with the long shipping times from China, massive competition, and lack of supply chain control I started experimenting with new products. Not realizing I was collecting data on one general pixel. ( A Facebook Pixel is code that tracks user data) I tested products that didn’t align with people who liked Arduino. This confused the Facebook algorithm and all the data I collected was ruined. This is a lesson I learned the hard way as a first-time business owner.
Starting over with eCommerce
Realizing what I had done and continuing to learn more about Digital Marketing, I decided I needed to Re-brand. I changed the website name from Ebisu Front to SciTech Syndicate to better represent what my website is about. I became very transparent on the mission of SciTech Syndicate and started working on branding.
It became very clear that this was a longer harder road but I challenged myself to get sales not from facebook ads, but from organic traffic. I started to build an Instagram and Facebook community which is still going strong today. Having a background in graphic design and video editing, I began to create some killer content.
One of the greatest learning curves was understanding SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Looking back now I would have gone with an SEO consulting company to help overcome my learning curve. I did use a fantastic SEO Tool called SEMrush that helped me find keywords to target and tracked my progress. I won’t get into too many details of SEO in this article but it is a skill every digital marketer should learn.
Applying what I have learned
While scitechsyndicate.com hasn’t made me wealthy, it has taught me a valuable amount of skillsets from my mistakes. One of my virtual mentors Robert Kiyosaki‘s “Rich Dad” suggested spending money on assets, not liabilities. I feel there is no greater asset then education, and though I may not see immediate returns on my investment, I am building up a piece of virtual real estate that aligns with my passions.
With the skillsets I have learned, I decided to start helping others who have services and products that are unique to the market. Arduino is a very common online product and most people know they can buy them inexpensively from China. So the competition is fierce for advertising and marketing in digital media.
CE Digital Media was born and the real business was started. Starting a business is very challenging and I am sure to make more mistakes. It won’t stop me from continuing to learn from the mistakes and build a business that provides great value.
The one-piece of advice for first-time business owners
If I could give one piece of advice for first-time business owners it would be this. You have already done what many people fail to do, you started a business. This is like having a baby, as long as you take care of it and feed it what it needs you will have success. Don’t give up and accept mistakes as learning experiences. I find the more I embrace mistakes, the more success I seem to find.
Staying focused on providing people with an amazing experience in whatever product you have should always be your main objective. Give 51% in value to receive a 49% return in profit will make your business successful. Always over-deliver!
Jeff Bezos with Amazon has a company motto I have adopted in my business. Every day is the first day. This can be interpreted in many different ways, but I perceive it to mean know why you started your business in the first place.
I hope this article was helpful for all the first-time business owners out there. If it was valuable to you, please consider sharing it with others on any social media platform you wish. It helps us out tremendously when you do. If you found an error or just think this article plain sucks, please leave us feedback in the comment section to let us know why. Constructive criticism helps me learn from my mistakes.