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Three things I learnt managing an e-shop from scratch

As I was finishing my studies last year, me and my friend were wondering what to do for a living. The idea of being employed was not very interesting for us, so we decided to start our own business and find out what it means to work for ourselves.

At that time we were in touch with popular Spanish fashion brand, therefore we opted to become their retailer in Slovakia. We ordered some products and opened an e-shop. Sounds pretty straight-forward, doesn't it? Well... It's not. After few months of running my own business, I would like to share with you how much my expectations of running an e-shop differed from the business reality.

expectations vs reality

1. You learn a lot more than you thought you would

My first step was choosing products for reselling in Slovakia. Not as easy as it sounds. So many questions arose. Will the customers like the same products as me? Will this pattern work better with red or grey T-shirt? Will three pieces of medium size be enough for our market or are men in Slovakia bigger? And that was just the first part. I recall how during my accounting exam I doubted I would ever need to know the basics – but the opposite has proven to be true. Managing a Facebook campaign, mastering SEO, getting in touch with basics of programming to install an e-shop, being creative while building a blog – you need to learn all of that and much more.

2. If you want something done, do it yourself

Outsourcing is a great way to get what you need from people with the proper know-how, but only in case you have enough money to pay them. That didn't apply in my case, of course. So when the topic of product promotion came up, I realized we need database of eye-catching product photos. However, Spanish manufacturers didn't provide me with any usable pictures. Solution? Organize a photo-shoot with Slovak models on my own. That wasn't what I thought about when I opened the e-shop. Same goes for attracting new customers, working on business development, chasing partnership opportunities and so on.

3. Holy triangle of small business – strategy, marketing, sales

Current market is flooded with products that fulfill customer's every imaginable need. I am convinced that the only way how to stand out from the abundance of offers is not just to provide an unique product – which I can modestly say I was providing – but to develop a strategy very different from my competitors and then follow up with original and yet out-of-the-box marketing. Only then you can think about sales, for example how you will offer your products and what will be their added value.

I have to say, the idea of creating something new, original and on my own was very exciting. It also provided me with a huge opportunity to find out if I possess the necessary skills for the business – or in other words, if I "have what it takes" to survive in a tough world of e-shops.

Ever since we opened up, there were and I'm sure there still will be many of those who don't trust in our ability to gain success with our product. My advice for you? Don't listen to them. As the old saying goes, haters gonna hate. It's very possible you will struggle from time to time, but it will still be one of the most creative periods of your life. Trust me, if you have stock full of unsold goods, you become extremely creative.

I wish all of you, e-shop entrepreneurs, good luck!

If my story sparked your interest, check our my e-shop Sklapni.sk and see for yourself if my efforts are worth it. ;)
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