Life Lessons: What I’ve Learned About Starting An E-Commerce Business

Courtesy of Jessica Mason

I started Piglet in January to offer a natural, beautiful and low-maintenance alternative to high-thread-count cotton bedding. My day-to-day life involves liaising with customers and suppliers, managing social-media campaigns, working with social influencers and managing the business’s finances.

It is a really exciting time for e-commerce, with mobile technology enabling entrepreneurs to build lean businesses without requiring huge teams or massive investment. I have found that to make this work you need to learn a host of new skills very fast and be prepared to wear many hats. Here are my five rules for success…

1. Get as much feedback as you possibly can.

Everyone says this, but in the early days of starting a new business you feel pretty vulnerable and negative feedback can be a scary thing. Learning how to use this to fine-tune your message, product offering or customer-service style is one of the most valuable things you can do.

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2. Become intimately familiar with your accounts.

It may not be the most exciting or creative part of running an e-commerce brand but a proper set of accounts will tell you everything you need to know about what is and isn’t working in your business. Anything you can do to feel more in control of the company goes a long way towards helping you to get a good night’s sleep.

3. Do as much as possible yourself.

There are without any doubt many people more qualified than I am to build a website, design a logo, photograph campaigns or optimise the delivery of digital advertising, and as the business grows, I will bring on board more experts to handle these tasks. However, by doing as much as you can yourself in the early days you will be able to manage these areas of the business with much more credibility and success.

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4. Be prepared to always be on.

Answering your customers’ queries quickly on platforms that are convenient to them, such as Facebook Messenger, helps generate sales and build a happy and loyal customer base (though you may feel rude glancing at your phone all the time at the dinner table…)

5. Enjoy the upsides.

While you may be fairly broke for a while and work seven days a week, running your own business can offer much more flexibility than a traditional job. It’s easy to forget to make the most of that because you’re glued to your laptop. I love being able to take the dog for a long walk in the middle of the day or enjoy an afternoon yoga class.