How To Sell Online From Women Who Are Doing It Successfully
What will the world of business look like once this global crisis is over?
If the aftershocks of the current situation are anything like the situation itself, the answer is most likely, “very different.”
Marketing, e-commerce, and advertising have all been hugely affected, as businesses attempt to navigate the murky waters of financial uncertainty as best as they can. As of March 31 in the U.K., 90% of marketers have delayed or reviewed their planned campaigns whilst 69% of organizations have seen a fall in demand for their products or services. At this point, many of these businesses are simply looking to ride out the storm, hoping they still have something to work with once it’s all over.
Whilst launching a business in the current climate may seem inadvisable, there are certain industries that are still thriving – the digital learning and coaching market being one of them. Online learning platform Pearson actually reported a 400% increase in daily activity at the end of March – a boom that has been seen elsewhere in the industry too.
Of course, some would argue that starting up right now is also tone-deaf – that to sell is almost shameful. But that’s easy to say if you’re not one of the millions of people who’ve lost their jobs or whose financial security is currently at risk (it has been reported that women, along with young people, will be amongst the financially worst-hit). Those who are able to continue selling and – more importantly – buying, should not be afraid to do so. With the entire world economy under the worst strain it’s seen in years, what use is martyring yourself if you have something to sell that others want to buy? Particularly if it’s digital and can be sold and bought from the safety of home?
Yes, launching that side hustle, passion project or business you’ve always dreamed off may seem like a fool’s errand right now but what it is possible – particularly if you have a skillset or expertise that can help other entrepreneurs, business owners or freelancers.
Don’t believe it? Forbes spoke to five digital businesswomen consistently making six or seven figures a year and mined them for advice that anyone can take to launch their own venture, in particular, the things they wish they knew when starting out. Here’s what they had to say.
Communicate often – and well.
This is something that many businesses are learning the hard way right now, with several facing customer criticism for getting their handling of the situation completely wrong. To succeed, says Vanessa Cuddeford, a one-time news anchor and now public speaking coach whose average annual turnover is over £200,000, “you need to be crystal clear and engaging from the outset. Our attention span can be short – and online it can be even shorter.
“The starting point is knowing: 1) who your audience is 2) what outcome you provide for them and 3) what the consequence is if they don’t work with you. Knowing those three things will allow you to create messages that will grab your audience’s attention and move them into action.”
Heidi Plumberg, an online coach and therapist advises that the ability to unearth and communicate these truths often comes from your own experience and your willingness to share it. “Your story matters- sharing your successes and struggles will help others shift theirs.”
“Being visible is so important,” agrees Anna Davidson, an Amazon Brand Expert. “I used to shy away from showing up on social media and telling others about my business, because I was worried about what people would think but I soon learned that it’s the only way for people to know about you and how you can help them. If you won’t allow yourself to be visible your business will crash and burn.”
“If it’s a ‘nice to have,’ especially in the current climate, it won’t fly.” Maeve Ferguson
Do your market research – it’s invaluable
When you’re building a business from passion, it can be really hard to be objective so it’s absolutely vital that you do your market research before launching. This will not only help you determine what the market needs, who your main competitors are and how best to advertise, it will – most importantly of all – determine whether your business is actually viable in the first place. After all, a gap in the market doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a need to be serviced.
“Where I see so many go wrong, is that they sit at home and come up with an idea that they think is great. Then they spend weeks or months building everything and then go to the market. Then the market tells them it is not what they want. So they quit,” observes online business coach and CEO Maeve Ferguson. “Never ever build anything first – go to your market and find out exactly what they want and then build your service offering around that.”
This, she explains, enables you to build an offer” that “fixes a vital pain point” in your chosen niche. “If it’s a ‘nice to have,’ especially in the current climate, it won’t fly. An offer that achieves a desire that is profound will get clients with ease. If the result is indifferent, clients will be very hard to come by.”
Work out your niche – this will make it easier to find the right customers
That market research you did? That’s going to help you determine what your niche or ‘unique selling point’ should be. When starting out, it’s tempting to follow the crowd using the rationale of ‘if it worked for them, it’ll work for me.’
“Don’t do the copycat thing that I see so many people in the online world do – it never works,” says business coach and consultant Sara Longoria. “Figure out what the world needs, find your unique voice and share that.”
Finding an area that’s under serviced rather than focusing on “faddy” products will also help you think long-term, as well as help you survive those dicey early days in an under crowded market, Anna believes: “Find a niche and you’ll find your loyal customers.”
And it’s loyal customers you’re after, Vanessa points out, because it’s these that will be “committed” to doing the work and therefore prevent you from “wasting energy and effort.”
“Nowadays I only work with people determined to overcome their fears and excel.”
“No one in the corporate world is given a job and told to go do it without any training yet I see so many people starting an online businesses without getting any guidance or hiring help.” Sara Longoria
Build a strong foundation and accept help when you need it
It’s all very well finding some success in business when it’s just you but what happens when you can longer meet demand? The scale up stage is one that can upend even the most successful businesses so focusing on building something that doesn’t rely on a ‘hours put in = amount of reward’ formula, is one of the most important initial steps you can take, suggests Maeve. “Being able to scale with no additional hours on your part is the most priceless advantage of being in the industry. Build a scalable business model, otherwise you will be no better off than being employed where you have no time freedom.”
This will mean outsourcing what and when you can, says Heidi. “I have a really great team to support me now, which means we can support our clients quickly and easily and has enabled me to grow the business in ways I never dreamt of.”
Sara suggests taking it one step further and turning to more experienced mentors to help you reach the next stage:
“No one in the corporate world is given a job and told to go do it without any training yet I see so many people starting an online businesses without getting any guidance or hiring help. One of the main reasons I have been so successful is because I have always hired people who are further along than me to show me the way. You will be much more successful in the long run if you treat your venture like a business and not some side hobby that may or may not work out for you.”