@SBSL-Founder-SJ you have great insights, so it's wonderful to share them again with other members. You are adding great value to the community by engaging here with your thoughts as a small business owner - that's what QB Community is all about! So, please keep it up! Thanks for being a QBC member.
Wondering what tips other new or active members in our Community would offer to new entrepreneurs?
Nice topic @SarahGonzales! Absolutely track your income and expenses for the business. I recommend a very inexpensive software, QuickBooks Self-employed, it will help you with calculating the Estimated taxes. I wish that this existed when I started out.
Entrepreneurship is hard work. I remember when I decided to branch out on my own to start my own bookkeeping business. Back in those days, I searched my newspaper for part-time bookkkeeping positions. Then I would go to the employers on my after hours and weekends when I wasn’t working in what I called “my big girl job”. Business took off an and soon I needed to leave that full-time job and make the part-time one the only one.
And the business started to build and build. A few things to consider:
That is just a few items to consider. It is scary leaving a regular paycheck and taking the leap. But it is so worth it! You control your hours, your schedule. You drive the business. You will wear all hats, marketer, secretary, bookkeeper, etc.
And remember, we spend something like 80% of our life in our job, shouldn’t we do something we enjoy?
These are such great tips, @lynda! I'm particularly interested in the question of "Can I afford it?" For me the answer depends on your "backup plan" (safety net in the form of savings). How many months would you need to be able to float yourself - based on your expected monthly budget - before making the leap? Is there a best practice here or does it mostly depend on your personal circumstances and comfort level with a certain amount of risk?
I would say have 6 mos. of money to live off of minimally if you are just going to quit your day job and dive right in. For most of us, doing the part-time gig is a great way to start. You build your clientele until you can no longer cut it on nights and weekends. And it is scary quitting the job for sure. Be sure you have a contingency plan if something goes awry. If a client doesn't pay you.
I would also add to the list of things an entrepreneur should do is get a mentor. Someone you admire that does what you do. Great resource.
The future of buying and selling is borderless, seamless, voice-driven, personalized, powered by AI, machine learning, and automation. There is no omnichannel, there is no ecommerce—it’s all just “commerce.” Consumers expect to find the best-rated items, at the best price, always in stock, shipped to them immediately from anywhere in the world, delivered on time, and easily returnable, all from any interface—laptop, tablet, mobile phone, or virtual assistant.
What does this mean for small and medium-sized businesses? On the one hand, it’s easier than ever now to start an ecommerce business with so many platforms and tech solutions; but if you can do it, so can everyone else; the competition will only get tougher. If you have figured out your business strategy, you’ve likely discovered some operational challenges they may be standing in the way of scaling. By processing millions of orders for thousands of ecommerce companies, we’ve learned the most common blocks to scaling are:
Multiple disconnected systems
Lack of insight and control
Fortunately, there is one simple solution with a few variation that will solve all of these problems—technology. Using technology that is now available to all sellers, it’s possible to
Integrate your entire tech stack.
Automate your operational workflows and processes.
Analyze the financial health of your business.
Today’s ecommerce tech landscape is complex—literally hundreds of vendors offer various solutions. How do you decide which apps to get and which companies to trust?
On the one hand, you have ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce which power your online store. With their technology, it’s easier than ever to start an online business. But these platforms offer single-channel selling and, by nature of being big, they are slow to innovate. Then you have marketplaces like Amazon and eBay that expose sellers to millions of buyers and offer their own warehousing, fulfillment, and shipping solutions. The problem is – they are expensive as sellers get hit by many hidden fees that eat into your margins.
Then you have single-purpose tools just for shipping or inventory management or fulfillment; they don’t integrate well into the technology you already have; and many of those apps are expensive.
The bottom line? When your business is growing rapidly, your resulting tech stack gets pretty complex and you need to choose the right tech partner that will serve your growing needs, and will help you integrate all the different systems and apps.
The benefits of integrating:
Have one software as your centralized point of control where you can see data from all sales channels, in a standardized format.
Easily view the details without changing platforms.
Save time on data reconciliation.
Save money and some headache by consolidating redundant apps.
What to look for in an ecommerce integration tool:
Choose a partner who helps you integrate all the different systems and apps so that you don’t spend too much time reconciling your data.
Find a tool that integrates with the world’s best ecommerce players.
Look for an app that acts as the centralized point of control in which the processing of orders takes place between your ecommerce channels, inventory, and order fulfillment systems, shipping solutions, payments, and accounting software, like QuickBooks.
Explore ways to minimize your clicks for each order. In other words, see how you can use fewer apps and maximize the apps you keep.
Examine your workflows by creating an order processing flowchart. Map out a diagram showing how one order flows through a single channel to see where the potential bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and risks. Now, if you sell your goods on multiple channels this picture gets increasingly more complex and prone to errors and inefficiencies.
Automating order processing, accounting, shipping, and inventory may seem like an obvious solution, you’d be surprised how many sellers resist making any changes to their workflow and their old style of working to the detriment of the business. Many sellers spend hours jumping between systems and keeping their customers in the dark while their team fumbles through each order.
The benefits of automation:
Fully reconcile your accounts.
Manage all your orders from one software.
Easily search, sort, filter, import, export multichannel orders.
Enter phone orders by automatically pulling QuickBooks inventory.
Instantly create purchase orders for out of stock items.
Always know where your money is and that your data is timely and accurate.
What to look for in an ecommerce automation platform:
A platform that can address the biggest automation areas—orders, accounting, inventory, and shipping.
Software that allows the whole team to collaborate using a single set of data with no manual entry.
A tool that emphasizes the importance of syncing multiple channels and tracking essential pieces of data.
A scheduling automator, allowing you to set tasks nightly, hourly, or every five minutes if you like.
An application that operates in the cloud or on multiple computers throughout your organization.
Software that allows you to add notes and communicate between multiple users who have set levels of permission.
To combat the paralysis that comes with opaque financials, use data analytics to reveal actionable insights. The keyword here is “actionable.” If you collect all data in the world, you’d still need to make sense of it and know what to do next. This is especially important for ecommerce sellers, who are really on their own to come up with strategy that allows them to grow without breaking the whole system.
The benefits of ecommerce data analytics:
View profit and loss reports and identify trends and risks.
Analyze sales performance by channel, inventory, or customer.
Know your most profitable products and focus on optimizing their sales.
Evaluate sales by geography and maximize marketing in the areas that produce the best margins.
Sync and track inventory to forecast reorders and avoid over-selling.
Look for in an ecommerce data analytics tool that tells you:
Why there is a spike or dip in sales.
How and how often can you replicate that spike and avoid the dip.
Which products yield better margins than others.
Who are my top customers and how do I keep them happy?
In short, the secrets to scaling your ecommerce business and actually turning a profit lie in fully integrating your tech stack, automation orders, inventory, shipping, and accounting, and analyzing your data across all channels to know what strategic steps to take next. Tackle just one of these and it’ll be easier to run your business; implement all three, and you’re guaranteed to sleep like a baby and make a bundle.
I hope just concentrating on these basic points businesses will be benefited largely.
Hey @newguy - welcome to QB Community
I agree, this article is one of my faves as well. What piece of advice stands out to you as most applicable to your current situation? Would love to hear more about your new business!