Developing a successful eCommerce business is a challenge in its own right. And when you add in a 9-5 job commitment, you’re upping the stakes all over again.
But as with most things in life, if it’s important enough to you, you’ll find the time. Here are our tips on how to grow your business while juggling the demands of your day job.
Planning, goal setting and list making go a long way when it comes to organisation, and calendar apps are invaluable. Make friends with your Google or Apple calendar, and take some time each week to block out pockets of time to be dedicated to your business.
Tip: Colour coding these blocks lets you see where you’re spending your work time, your leisure time, and your business time – as well as how much time you’re spending on Facebook or watching TV. When you break it all down, it’s often surprising to see just how much free time you really have.
Scheduling in “business time” is a good start, but you can boost your efficiency by breaking down exactly how that time is going to be spent. Consider the core tasks of your business, determine how much time needs to be spent on each, and pencil them in to your calendar. The colour-coding route will help here as well. Try a different colour for each of the following:
- Product sourcing
- Content marketing
- Product description writing
- Marketing activities
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Admin and customer service
Tip: Use your time effectively by putting your phone on “hibernate” mode and logging out of your social media networks. If you need to get away from the distractions of home, head to a cafe and pop in your earphones.
Don’t let yourself get distracted by tasks or ideas that are only tangentially related to what you should be working on. If you have a brilliant light bulb moment while you’re working, make a note and return to it at a later point.
Tip: You can easily keep track of new ideas or potential avenues to follow up with tools such as Google Docs, Trello, Asana or Evernote. If you prefer to work on paper, make sure you’re working out of a notebook or folder rather than individual pieces of paper, as these can be easily lost.
Be good to yourself.
Work at a time of day that best suits you. Some people do their best work before the sun comes up, while others are most productive as night owls. If mornings or evenings are out of the question, perhaps the hour you get for lunch is an option. Whatever the case, you’ll get far more done if you can work when you’re at your most bright-eyed – rather than relying on coffee to get you through.
Be customer service-savvy.
Great customer service is key to a business’s success, but it can be time-consuming. Aim to reduce the demands on your time by dedicating particular times to responding to queries, or by using simple tools such as email filters and pre-written responses.
Tip: Try to reduce the number of queries you receive in the first place. An FAQ page or more detailed product descriptions or shipping information can help reduce enquiries – especially if the same topics keep coming up.
Be forward thinking.
If you’re new to running your own business, now’s a good time to test the waters. Research products that require a low outlay and that are easy to sell, and that fill an existing gap in the market. Looking at successful overseas companies that don’t have a solid presence in the UK market is a good place to start. Once you’ve proven that you’re on to a good thing you can start expanding your presence.
Tip: Products can often be cheaply and easily sourced from Europe, and then on-sold using your own site. If you’re just starting out, you can even ship items to your customers directly from Europe– just as long as you allow for the shipping time.
Having a day job alleviates much of the financial risk of running a business, but you’ll want to make your budgets stretch as far as you can. After all, you want to be able to cut back on your day job hours, not add to them. Start small – inexpensive products, local shipping, DIY design and free or trial versions of software apps are a good way to keep costs down.
Tip: If you’re running an eCommerce store, opt for a free or low-cost eCommerce platform that gives you everything you need right out of the box. The money you save here can be put to use in growing your business with new products or marketing approaches.
We all have less time than we’d like to devote to our passions. But when you make your business a priority you’ll be surprised by how much time you really do have to focus on what you love. Even a little bit of time in the morning, evening or over the weekends goes a long way.
And while running a business in addition to working the 9-5 grind is definitely a challenge, you have the advantage of having a regular salary to reinvest in your business and to help cover your costs as you get started.
If you’ve been able to set aside time to read this article you have time to set aside for your new business venture. Load up your calendar app and start scheduling your way to business success!