A few years ago, Thomas Smale wrote an article for Entrepreneur about what it takes to run a successful ecommerce business. With the amount of similar articles floating around the web, his piece could have easily been swallowed up as one of thousands. However, Smale's first point set his article apart from the others: “Treat your ecommerce business as if it were a thriving offline business.”
Your business must have a presence online; an entirely offline business is a thing of the past. But the backbone of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur is the same now as it was before the ecommerce boom. While the challenges may come in new forms, the principles behind them are the same.
Understand that ecommerce isn’t simply about being internet savvy; it requires being business savvy. It’s someone with an entrepreneurial mindset—not a tech mindset—who will be successful.
The Purpose of Business Is the Same
If you’ve decided to start a business, it’s probably because you recognize a need that isn’t being met effectively. Small businesses have always existed to provide services to a niche audience, and ecommerce businesses are no different. However, the pressures come in different forms now.
In an age of decreasing attention spans and faster access to information, how can you set your brand apart from the competition and create loyal customers? Fortunately, despite the increased pace of the modern marketing world, the answer to this question hasn’t changed drastically in the past couple decades.
The reason entrepreneurs are so effective is that they are creators. They are often business-minded artists who have a specific pain point they'd like to address. And these kinds of people will continue to meet their market demands because they will not skimp on creativity under pressure. In a digital age, product design in the ecommerce model will always be human centered.
Even though business models have changed, the purpose of running a business is the same. To see if their idea will work, one of the biggest testing questions business owners should ask themselves is if they are meeting a niche need or pain point. Even in an age with high stakes in sales, entrepreneurs are still the perfect people for the job.
Adaptability Is Still Important
Entrepreneurs keep their ears to the ground and see what people need. That’s why they start a business in the first place, after all. And in the digital age, there is a need for rapid adaptation. Ecommerce is particularly primed for adaptation, so the combination of an entrepreneur and their tech team is an unstoppable force.
Lifelong learning is vital for success as a business owner or marketer. Often, an entrepreneur’s personal value and vision is what comes out of their concept or project, so if they are consistently educating themselves and changing, so will their business.
Adaptability is also important—it enables business owners to find the most efficient ways to do things. It’s the way a company can stay relevant while competing with millennial entrepreneurs, and it’s key to business longevity. In the ecommerce realm, adaptability is important as ever, and entrepreneurs are well equipped to bring that to the table.
The Market Has Remained Competitive
Competition in the business world is based on the idea of doing something more efficiently (and often, more creatively) than others in the market. Your competitors have weak spots that you can improve upon, and finding these can give you an opening to convert customers to your brand.
In the ecommerce marketplace, these weak spots can often be found on competitors' websites. For instance, many websites have a poor user experience. This can be a result of confusing navigation, broken buttons, and non-responsive web design.
Entrepreneurs are the type of people who will identify these issues on competitor websites and look for ways to make their own websites more user-friendly. Again, success is less about technical skills and more about creative ideas for meeting needs.
Remember that this kind of competition is only one way in which creativity is necessary for a thriving online business. Entrepreneurs are the best in the business for adapting creative ideas to new business models.
If you’re an entrepreneur, keep abreast of new trends, and analyze them critically. Will they push your brand further? Or will they distract from organizational goals? Choosing when to embrace new approaches is critical.