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How To Find Your Winning Business Idea

StrategyDriven Innovation Article |Winning Business Idea|How To Find Your Winning Business IdeaThis post will outline the exact framework I’ve used to come up with four very different ideas for my multi-million dollar ecommerce brands. This process will help you not only come up with a product to sell, but also help you create more clarity around your brand vision – something you’ll return to again and again.

First up, if you already have a product on the market this lesson will be equally as important for you, because it’s going to get you thinking about your brand in an entirely new way, so definitely pay attention here.

Right now you’re probably thinking what do I even mean by a “problem first approach to ideation”. What I mean here, in its simplest state is that your product should be the solution to a problem and this is the very first thing to know before starting an e-commerce brand.

You’re not just creating a product, you’re solving a problem. Something that I’ve said time and time again: “The world doesn’t need more products”, so rather than asking yourself what product can I sell, instead ask yourself what problem can I solve?

By flipping this thinking on its head, from finding a product to finding a problem is important for several reasons. First up, if we’re thinking differently to others, we’re more likely to come up with something different and better than what’s already out there.

This method gives you the opportunity to find a better solution to the problem than other standard products on the market. Also if your product is solving an existing problem that your target market or customer already experiences, you know it’s going to add value and be of value to them.

Acing a problem-first approach will also make it easier down the track to create more products that make sense for your brand, because you’ll always have that starting point or brand vision to work from. In fact, coming up with a solution before you know the problem you’re solving can actually be seriously detrimental to innovation. Once you have a solution in mind, it’s really hard to shift from that, even if you know and you’ve got that it might not be the best possible one.

It’s a little like answering a question before you know what the question even was. Even if you take a good guess it’s always going to be a little bit off the mark. Identifying the problem that you want to solve before making your product will make sure that you never lose sight of what your brand is trying to achieve or end up with a product that does miss the mark.

Finding a problem and coming up with multiple solutions means that you’re better equipped to find the best possible product for your brand to sell. What we want to do here is find a problem that you already know exists or better yet you’ve experienced yourself. This is what I often refer to: “scratching your own itch”. That means you’ve felt the pain point yourself, so you’re better able to empathize with your target audience. Ideally, the problem that you’re looking to solve will be in an area that you’re passionate about – you want to be able to do it day in day out, for the foreseeable future.

Let’s use an example that I’ve spoken about before, I’m truly interested in protecting our shared environment for future generations. My interest in this might stem from the fact that my mom is it a little bit of a hippie, she’s taken to doing things like lining her bin with old newspaper instead of plastic bags, religiously takes her own plastic bags to the supermarket, etc. The huge environmental issue is our unprecedented production of waste and dropshipping products – both landfill and recyclable.

So the problem that my brand will solve is how to decrease waste from everyday disposable items. A good way of coming up with your solution here is by turning a problem into a question and your solution will be the answer to that question.

The question could be: How do I decrease waste from everyday disposable items? And one answer would be to make those items reusable and this is something that I do a lot when coming up with solutions – I come up with a problem and ask myself what the polar opposite of that problem would be?

Like I said, the opposite of disposable is reusable this is another strategy that you can use. So we have our problem – the waste from disposable everyday items and our solution making them reusable. Now we want to have a bit of a brainstorm around what some of these disposable everyday items could be, that we could make reusable. This is going to help us come up with some potential product ideas.

So, now let’s start thinking of some items that you use daily, are disposable that you could make reusable. First things that immediately come to mind: Erasers (shopify best sellers), tooth brushes, takeaway coffee cups or straws. Now you want to begin to have a think and do some research around each of these potential product ideas in terms of what you think has:

  • biggest market potential
  • competition

It’s important that they aren’t being done as well by other brands. You can fast forward and go for the item of areas which has the least market saturation (which in our case, from the items listed is the disposable straws).
Then we want to focus in and start to do some additional research around our problem and solution. We want to look at some facts and figures that you can focus on to highlight the problem of disposable straws. Apparently an estimated 500 million straws are used each day in the US alone – this is a powerful number and it can help you convince the customer the importance of making a change.

Then we want to highlight the fact that plastic straws cannot be recycled and they sit in our landfill for years or pollute our waterways. So, you’re starting to create a compelling reason for your prospective customer to switch to a reusable straw, by getting them to understand and even empathize with the problem.

If you’ve felt the pain point yourself, you’re not only going to be more motivated to solve it, but you’re actually going to be more equipped to solve it as well. If you ask yourself your problem as a question, your solution can be the answer or another approach is thinking of the polar opposite of your problem, for example: Disposable and reusable dehydration and hydration or in the case of SkinnyMe Tea (my brand if tea) toxins and detox.

If you’re stuck on ideas you can look at websites like trendhunter or Kickstarter, for example. On trendhunter you can search according to a category you’re interested in:

If you’re interested in health and wellness, then you can go into the health category and maybe look at some of the top trends for that month in the health and wellness space or you can see if anything really catches your eye.

For me obviously if detox teas was written down, I would have found that really interesting and I would have tried to think about some of the ways that I could solve that problem differently to what was already being presented.
Another good place to do some research once you have a general idea is Pinterest. You can type in things like: “the benefits of hydration” or “dehydration” or “detox tea recipes” and look at some of the DIY tips and trends there. As an action item I’d like you to come up with five broad problems that you’re looking to solve.

How to Grow Your Ecommerce Startup in Year One

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article |Ecommerce startup|How to Grow Your Ecommerce Startup in Year OneAs many proud business owners can attest, the growth cycle for ecommerce businesses doesn’t necessarily adhere to older principles related to the growth of physical stores. Indeed, when you’re setting up online, you’re bypassing many of the difficult aspects to scaling that you’d have had to work through with brick-and-mortar stores.

In this article, you’ll learn about your priorities in year one in order to make a sustainable and profitable business that scales effectively into your second year of operations.

Marketing

To scale, you need more people to visit your website, and more people to make purchases to boost your ecommerce business’ profits. It’s really that simple. While there are some other underlying elements to scaling mentioned later in this article, you’re going to need to build out a marketing campaign as a priority in order to draw in traffic, clicks, shares and sales to your site.

You can do this in a number of different ways, depending on your budget and the personnel you have on-side. If you’re a small company, you may prefer to outsource marketing to an experienced digital marketing firm, which will help you build a long-term strategy to increase engagement. Otherwise, look online to uncover some of the fundamentals of digital marketing, enabling you to slowly bend your strategy to fit with the wants and needs of your audience and your target customer.

Operational Efficiency

Many ecommerce startups begin with manual processes, and slowly move into the automated software world as they scale. That’s exactly what you should be looking to do in your first year, so you spend less time managing orders, responding to emails, and doing all those little repetitive jobs that end up consuming most of your waking day.

As a starting point, you should automate orders on your website, and automate emails through to confirm orders, confirm subscriptions, and add individuals to mailing lists. Mailing lists are incredibly important for your data collection, and to offer deals and discounts seasonally, so they’re also best set up in your first year in business. Once you’ve taken a good look at your operations, and made as many of them automated as possible, you’ll be able to deal with scaling far easier.

Deliveries

The only physical part of your ecommerce business is delivering parcels to customers. You want this to be as effective and efficient as you can possibly make it. You’ll know only too well that one of the main market differentiators in the ecommerce world is customer service, and that’s primarily driven through cheap yet swift delivery services. You need to get your parcel to its destination within the shortest-possible timescale.

The problem with distribution is that you can ship your products easily to local distribution centers – but it’s the final mile that’s the kicker, adding costs to your overall logistics operation.

Indeed, last mile delivery costs are one of your greatest overheads, and something you’re going to want to keep low in order for you to succeed in your first year in ecommerce. Be careful when signing contracts that you’re getting what you want to get from your delivery deal, and that you can hold delivery companies responsible for late packages, too.

Funding and Cash Flow

Finally, you need to be cognizant of your funding situation, and how much cash you’ll have in the kitty to support a growing business, before you enact your scaling plan. If you’re unable to meet soaring costs related to providing more for your customers, you’ll miss out on delivery times, you’ll miss payments to clients and subsidiaries, and you’ll endanger the soul of your business just as it shows promising signs of sustained growth. You need capital – some saved for worst-case scenarios – before you scale.

This capital will help you bring in new personnel if you’re swamped with orders to process. It’ll enable you to buy in bulk, reducing your order costs in anticipation of larger order volumes and it’ll enable you to invest in made-to-scale, cloud-based software – the kind that’ll help you to build your audience through automation, and meet the extra demands placed upon the entirety of your operations. With financial security in place, you won’t need to worry about your labor and your investments going to waste as you’ll be prepared for your next great step into ecommerce profits for 2021.

These tips are all designed for ecommerce startups in their first year – those which are ambitious to scale, but a little concerned about how to achieve sustained and sustainable growth into 2021 and beyond.

4 Ways To Ensure Your eCommerce Website Is Easy To Use

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development Article, 4 Ways To Ensure Your eCommerce Website Is Easy To Use

One of the best ways to improve your customer journey on your eCommerce site is to ensure your website is easy to use, but where do you start? With so many things to consider when it comes to creating an eCommerce website, you need to ensure you’re putting usability at the forefront of all of your decisions. Whether you’re improving your site navigation or using a trusted checkout provider, doing what is best for your customers is important. With that in mind, here are 4 ways to ensure your eCommerce website is easy to use:

Make The Navigation As Simple As You Can

One of the best ways to make your eCommerce site easy to use is to make your navigation as simple as you possibly can. Although you may want to add in multiple pages for SEO purposes, ultimate your sales will come down to how usable your site is. If your customers are having to click through hundreds of different pages to find what they want, chances are they’re going to look for another stockist before wasting any more of their time. Keep things as simple as you can and you will start to see immediate results when it comes to your bounce rate.

For a guide to reducing our bounce rate, you can visit this site here.

Don’t Use Too Many Pages To Click Through To Checkout

If you want people to have a quick and easy journey through your site, you need to ensure there are not too many pages to click through before they get to the checkout page. Although there may be a number of things you need to confirm, the more pages there are the less likely they are to pay.

Use A Trusted Checkout Provider And Make It Easy To Pay

If you want people to feel safe when they’re purchasing products from your site, you need to ensure you’re using a trusted checkout provider. Often, when it is a provider they don’t recognise or they haven’t used before, you will find they’re less likely to purchase from you due to fear of fraudulent activity. Whether you host your own checkout or you use a gateway service, you need to ensure your provider is as trusted as it can possibly be. For more information about API and gateway services, you can visit this site here.

– Make Returns As Easy As You Can

Finally, it’s important you’re making returns as easy as you possibly can. Although you want to aim for no returns, you need to be sure you’re making it as easy as possible for those that do need to send something back. Whether they find the item doesn’t fit or they ordered the wrong colour – if it’s too difficult to return you may find they’re less likely to purchase from you again.

For a guide to making returns on your site easy, you can visit this site here.

Is your eCommerce website easy to use? What can you do to ensure customers have a positive experience on your site? Let me know your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

Simple Steps to Increase Online Sales

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development |Increase Online Sales|Simple Steps to Increase Online SalesIf you are a business owner with a business that is predominantly based-online, then no doubt, one of your main aims and goals is to increase the online sales. Whether you are a small business or a large business that is going to be the aim of the game. You might be a retail business that has recently moved online, and have a brick and mortar store, or perhaps you are a solely ecommerce business. But with companies like Amazon taking a huge share of the market, you need to think about using your site in the right way, to help you to get the sales that you need. It can be a bit of a struggle, but done in the right way, and with a little know-how, you can use the internet to help you to boost your sales. Here are some things that you need to consider.

Be Honest in Your Sales Content

This is something that might seem really obvious, but it is quite staggering just how many people with online businesses are essentially writing out checks that they can’t cash, because their products don’t step up to the mark. Honesty is so important to your business and the reputation of your business, as it will help consumers to gain trust in your brand. So check what claims you are making, and make sure that they are backed up. If not, it is best not to mention them at all. So the bottom line is to make sure that you are honest and transparent with your sales content and copy, right through from product descriptions on your website to email newsletters.

Get More Ad Clicks with Ad Extensions

If you want to sell more things online, then having something like and ed extension is really a no-brainer. This kind of feature will allow you to make an ad bigger, with more places for people to click on, meaning that there is more chance of website visits. The good news is that this kind of thing doesn’t cost any extra, but the increase in click-through rates can be amazing.

Search Engine Optimization

If you want to get more people to your site, then you need to make sure that you are doing all you can to SEO your website. This could be done through keywords and ads, as mentioned, as well as using a blog and create links back online, using other blogs too. If you’re not too sure what you are doing with this, then you could always look for an SEO marketing agency to do the job for you. After all, if your business is all online, then you need to be doing all you can to people to visit.

A Bulletproof Money-Back Guarantee

There are many people that will be wary of using a website, let alone buy from it, if they don’t know your brand name; to them there is a lot of risk involved. So you need to let them know that there is no risk involved, and in most cases, the perceived risk is a financial one. So let them know what you offer for refunds or a money-back guarantee.

The Strategy Behind Complementing Your Online Store With A Physical Space

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article | Online Store| The Strategy Behind Complementing Your Online Store With A Physical SpaceOnce, online business existed to complement physical stores. A company who went online had the best chance of standing out on the high street. That’s because most customers started heading online to get some idea of what they wanted before heading out.

Unsurprisingly, this trend has seen a real rise in e-commerce only stores in recent years. Many new business owners now choose to scrap physical business altogether. And, it’s easy to see why given how steep rental prices are now. By relying on nothing more than a website, it’s possible to start a business for half the price you’d pay otherwise.

But, we’re seeing something of a shift in the business world right now. Rather than physical stores heading online, we’re seeing e-commerce companies opting for physical spaces. The benefit here, of course, is that they already have an established reputation to go off. In most cases, they also have existing profits to cover those costs.

But, how exactly can a physical store compliment your online efforts, and is it worth your while?

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article | Online Store| The Strategy Behind Complementing Your Online Store With A Physical SpaceKeeping up with the competition

Remember that physical businesses originally moved online to impress customers over their competitors. Now, though, opting for physical space is the best chance you have of doing that. After all, the online world is saturated with endless stores to choose from. Hence why companies like Amazon are heading to our high streets. This is your best chance to stand out from the online crowd and keep up with what the rest of your industry are doing. And, that’s the only real chance you have at making this last long-term.

Appealing to the masses

We’re told time and again that the majority of customers now come from online sources. And, there’s no denying that most do check out a website before anything else. But, consider that 60% of people who look online still prefer to buy in-store. A lot of the time, they simply check out their options on the computer. If you don’t have a physical store, then, you could lose a load of business this way. But, if you can direct online browsers to your retail space, you could see real success. This is especially the case if you blow them away with features like epoxy flooring and stand out displays for the products that they’ve already checked out. Just like that, you could increase your online conversion rates. All because you got physical.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article | Online Store| The Strategy Behind Complementing Your Online Store With A Physical SpaceMaking online shopping easier

Returns are the worst part of online shopping. Long-winded methods may even stop customers from bothering. That leaves them unimpressed with your services and unlikely to shop with you again. Which leads us to one of the best ways a physical space could compliment your online efforts. By accepting online returns in your physical store, you can secure many more happy shoppers. That alone can turn an online disaster in a real-life success.

Get your head out of that screen, then, and think about making a REAL difference to your business efforts.