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271. The Misconception About Business that Might be Holding You Back

271. The Misconception About Business that Might be Holding You Back

These last few weeks I’ve been having conversations with other educators who work with product-based businesses. We’re always talking about what we’re seeing with our students and clients and the recommendations we’re making to them. While of course, we all have a lot to say depending on the exact topic we’re talking about or the specific business we’re referring to… there is one general consensus about what it takes to be successful: having a BORING BUSINESS. 

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And when I say boring, that doesn’t mean you don’t get to be creative and have fun, try new things, jump on new marketing strategies, etc. That’s my favorite part of running any business, especially a product-based one. 

But the truth is, you can have the most fun, creative business out there, be the early adopter of every new social platform or feature they offer, and everything can look really good on the ouside… 

but if you don’t have the tried and true business foundations in place, it’s going to be hard to sustain your growth and profitability over the long term. And that flash-in-the-pan success you see from going viral, getting that PR feature, or even having a product take off with ads, isn’t going to be enough to keep you afloat indefinitely. 

They other day I saw a post on Instagram from a product-based business owner with the heading… Social media isn’t real. Here are things I struggle with as a small business owner. She goes on to share all the not-so-glamorous things about running her business, what keeps her up at night, and the fears she has about her future. 

And if she didn’t share that and you were just looking from the outside in – it seems like she’s got it all figured out. Great social media presence, check. Great engagement, check. Consistently releasing new collections with great marketing around them + huge launches, check… you’d think it was all perfect. 

And while all of those wins are real and she is running a successful business and growing every year, her post proves it’s not all sunshine and rainbows – no matter how it looks on the outside.

At the end of the day, I blame the highlight reel of social media for a lot of the struggles I see business owners face. 

That’s not to poo-poo social media altogether. It’s an amazing tool for small business owners and I do think overall, social media is a net positive.

But there is no denying that seeing businesses like hers, and many others on social creates so much FOMO and it’s hard to focus on the foundational, somewhat mundane things that truly matter. 

It’s also really easy to forget that there are tons of successful businesses out there that aren’t the content creators of their business, or that don’t use social media at all. 

I get it. I’m a business owner. I’m a human. I get caught up in this too, more often than I’d like to admit. 

But even when I see a business that looks super cool + fun on the outside, when I dig a little deeper and strip away all the pretty packaging to see what is really driving their success… it always comes back to the same foundational strategies and a commitment to constant improvement. 

And when I think back to my corporate retail days, something Kristin Fisher and I recently reminisced about on the podcast, those are all boring businesses too.  

Essentially, you don’t have to do all the things. You just have to do a handful of them really well. 

Moving forward, my goal is to make sure you and the rest of my students and clients are building boring businesses. I’m so dedicated to this idea, I even incorporated it into the latest iteration of the Lounge sign up page. 

Because boring businesses mean you don’t have to chase every shiny object. Your marketing strategy will age like a fine wine and get better over time. You’ll be able to work less without sacrificing profit… and you can have your best sales season ever while still getting to enjoy your life. 

I’m telling ya, it’s truly the formula for success. 

So now that you’re hopefully on board with the idea of a boring business, let’s talk about what that actually means. What does it look like to have a boring business?

Profit over Revenue

Well, it all starts with a die-hard focus on profit over arbitrary revenue numbers. Ciara Stockeland and I talk more about this on an upcoming episode, and we touched on it during her previous appearance too, I’ll stick a link in the show notes for that episodes. 

But the gist is, if you don’t have profit, you don’t have a business. Sure, not every business is going to be profitable from day one, especially if it’s your first time running a product-based business. But the sooner you start prioitizing profit, the better. 

As you start setting goals for the rest of the year, make sure you’re thinking of terms of profit instead of revenue.

A Website that Sells for You

Next up is a website that sells for you. 

I always hesitate to talk too much about the importance of your website because the majority of the websites I see are already pretty good. And most small business owners I know have this propensity to spend too much time on their website and not enough time marketing their business. 

But every once and a while I come across a site that isn’t quite optimized for conversion, it’s hard to navigate, looks a little unprofessional, and doesn’t include the information the customer needs to make a buying decision. 

The biggest indicator of your website success if your conversion rate and performance of your shopping journey. That’s too much to go into here today, but know that as long as you’re in the 1-3% conversion rate range you’re probably doing just fine. 

When in doubt, make sure your website is set up to convert a cold shopper who doesn’t know anything about you, your business, or your product. If you can solve to convert them, everyone else will be covered. 

If you want to learn more about how to do that, check out episode 185 with Rishi Rawat. He’s a master of conversion optimization and that episode is gold. https://ecommercebadassery.com/185

An External Marketing Strategy on Platform(s) that Actually Drive Conversion

While you don’t necessarily need to have social media to get attention for your business, you need some sort of external marketing or exposure to attract new customers. While repeat customer are essential to your profitability, and we’re gonna talk more about them in a bit – you can’t create repeat customers if you don’t have new ones. 

What this looks like for you is going to depend on a lot of factors, including where your perfect customers hang out and what you actually enjoy. 

Sure, it might be daily social media posts, but it could also be organic engagement on a platform like Reddit (something that’s working quite well for a Lounge member at the moment). Or it could be collaborations with other small businesses, it could be getting your products into retail stores, on other sales platforms, exhibiting at in-person events, hosting virtual shopping events, participating in virtual vendor events, getting PR coverage, doing product pre-launch events, paid ads, or a combination of those. 

There are a lot of ways to get attention for your business. Your goal is to identify the ones that makes sense for you, go all in on them, and continue to iterate and improve over time. 

I have a ton of podcast episodes diving deeper into how to actual market your business so make sure you check the show notes for the links. 

A Mechanism to Turn New Customers into Repeat Customers

Once you’ve attracted those new customers, now it’s time to turn them into repeat customers and to do it as quickly as possible. 

I was talking to a client the other day who saw huge growth last year thanks to investing heavily into paid ads. She had a handful of products that really took off and brought in a ton of new customers, but the majority of them never came back to buy from them again. While there are few different reasons why this is likely happening based on what I saw… the most obvious missing piece was being intentional about getting those new customers to buy into the brand + it’s mission. 

Up until now, the majority of the customers they had came to them because they were invested in the brand and what they stood for. This new cohort came in because they liked the one product that basically went viral. That group wasn’t invested in them at all. 

And sure, it was great to get all those sales. But because most of them came from paid media, the cost to acquire them was too high to settle for only getting that one sale. 

What this looks like in practice is going to vary business to business, but the easiest way to make sure you’re doing your part to turn that first time customer into a repeat customer is through email marketing and solid post-purchase flow. 

A Killer Email Marketing Strategy

Which leads me to the next pillar of a boring business and that’s a killer email marketing strategy. You knew I was gonna say that right? 

I’m not going to go too deep on the specifics of this right now, I’ll stick some links in the show notes to other episodes for you to check out including the link to the waitlist for Email Badassery. 

The course is in development as we speak with the first round of beta students, and it’s truly the most comprehensive course on email marketing for eCommerce out there. Believe me, I did my research. It’s going to be launching to the public around the end of April and those on the waitlist will get a special deal so make sure you’re on there. 

 But when it comes to building an eCommerce business, a strategic automation strategy and ongoing campaign emails are the way you convert first-time customers, and build their lifetime value, ultimately making them more profitable over time. 

Solid Inventory Management

Last, but certainly not least is solid inventory management. Aside from the marketing aspect, this is probably where most product-based businesses get themselves into trouble. Either they’re too heavily invested in product and end up with cash tied up in product that doesn’t move. Or they miss out on sales because they’re constantly running out of their best sellers. 

This is truly one of the hardest parts of running a product-based business, especially if you have wide product assortment across multiple different categories. It’s a true marriage of art & science and it takes practice. But if you don’t have a system for managing your inventory, this is something you need to stop puting off and really start to dive into. 

And yes, I’ve got some podcast episodes to get you started on inventory management, I’ll stick those links in the show notes. 

What Do You Think?

So.. how do you feel about having a boring business? I know, it doesn’t sound or feel sexy. But you know what’s sexy AF? Profit & cash in your pocket. A business that doesn’t keep you up at night… well at least not every night – you’re still an entrepreneur. Time away from your business doing the shit you love with the people you care about. Traveling the world. Eating a pint of ice cream while binge watching netflix because you can… not because you’re trying to escape. 

I don’t know about you, but if building a business that supports the lifestyle I want to create, gives me limitless possibilities, and gives me freedom from a thankless corporate job requires me to create a boring business… I’m game. 

Listen to the Episode

LINKS MENTIONED

Email Badassery Waitlist

The Lounge Membership

EPISODES MENTIONED

226. How to Market Your Business in 2024

51. Getting Your Product on Store Shelves with Katie Hunt

270. Think Like a Buyer: How to Stand Out on Faire + Better Manage Your Inventory

145. How to Manage Inventory in Your Inventory Management

229. How to Become an Inventory (and Finance) Genius with Ciara Stockeland

185. How to Convert FIrst-Time Website Visitors

211. How to Get PR Coverage for Your Product-Based Business

226. Virtual Vendor Events for Product-Based Businesses

233. Hosting Virtual Shopping Events

235. Product Pre-Launch Strategy

85. Doing Social Media the Right Way with Katie Wight

57. Influencer Marketing for Product-Based Businesses with Cody Wittick

Email Marketing Episodes

Hey, I'm Jessica

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. 

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