The Unfortunate Truth of E-Commerce Failures

e-commerce failures

Technology has been changing business for a long time now, but recent developments are particularly groundbreaking. A new survey from MarketingSignals reported that the unfortunate truth about e-commerce businesses is, 90% fail within the first 4 months of starting up. In contrast, the survival rate of the first YEAR for brick and mortar stores is 78% according to the Small Business Administration. In other words, almost 8 times more brick and mortar stores live to see their first birthday than e-commerce sites do. Let’s identify why there are so many E-Commerce failures.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Why Is There SUCH a Stark Difference?

One word. Marketing. According to MarketingSignals, “Poor online marketing performance coupled with an overall lack of search engine visibility [was the reason for market failure].” In simple English, if people don’t know you exist, how can they buy from you?

E-Commerce businesses are vast but fail at a rate larger than normal commerce businesses

It’s probably fair to assume that most people don’t think all you need to do is put an e-commerce plug-in on your website, and you’re golden, but few probably realize the amount of effort and resources (time and/or money) required in order to be successful. The survey points this out.

What Causes E-Commerce Failures?

Nearly 4 out of 10 new businesses failed because of poor online marketing. When you look across the top 10 reasons for e-commerce failure, the top 6 are all marketing related.

The top ten reasons why e-commerce startups end in failure:

1. Poor online marketing – 37%

2. Lack of online search visibility – 35%

3. Little to no market for their products or services – 35%

4. Running out of cash – 32%

5. Price and cost issues – 29%

6. Got outcompeted – 23%

7. Retail giants dominating a large share of the market – 19%

8. Lack of customer service – 16%

9. A poor team – 14%

10. Product mistiming – 11%

How to Avoid E-Commerce Failure

We have outlined before the ways that you can develop a successful marketing plan that won’t break the bank.

“Many tools can be used to increase their [businesses] brand awareness and search visibility in their first few days and weeks, where consumer trust and loyalty hasn’t yet been established.”

Marketing Signals

Unfortunately, they weren’t as forthcoming as to say where. We’re not surprised. In fact, our experience has been that there are no quick fixes. You need to be careful. It’s very easy to get ripped off if you don’t know what you are buying. In our post, “Google Small Business Portal – Marketing Gimmick or Value-Add”, we show how even large companies are willing to take your money.

E-Commerce relies on maintaining a customer base that keeps coming back to your website, which is helped by having a good marketing program

In the end, we found you really do have to put in the hard work. You need to educate yourself on the fundamentals of digital marketing. You can find some great courses offered through SCORE or the SBA. We highly recommend you take a least one of them before you start your business. You might want to consider a mentor or hiring an agency or a consultant to help.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither will your e-commerce business. However, you can put in the work, find the right support, and avoid the scammers to be one of the E-Commerce success stories instead of an E-Commerce failure.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

Unretirement: The Secret of a New Workforce

unretirement

I have a term for you that you will start hearing more and more over the next few years: unretirement. The title explains itself really, with the idea being that retirement is no longer a necessity. Now, you can keep your small business expanding beyond what you may have thought possible in the past, staying in charge past when people may see you as “expired.” Because why stop doing what you love because of something as arbitrary as age?

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

What Is “Unretirement?” Exactly?

As I’ve gotten older, that evil ‘R’ word kept creeping closer. I spent a lifetime of gaining knowledge. Am I to toss that away and sit in a home and wait to kick it? No, I don’t accept that. So, instead of thinking about retirement, I started to think about unretirement. My little 5-foot tall Italian grandmother worked with her sisters until she was 90. It gave her purpose. So, I used her as a model and started ProStrategix. 

The amazing thing was I’m not alone. Listening to an interview with Chris Farrell from NPR’s Marketplace was really eye-opening to me. 

It is time to shift the conversation about aging away from Social Security, retirement, physical decline, and an economic crisis, [and] focus on boosting the odds of healthy, active, and purposeful aging through working longer- including launching an entrepreneurial venture. Older minds who are involved in a community are happier.

Chris Farrell, interviewed on the Small Business Radio Show

So. What to do with this information?

Bam, Unretirement – A Whole New Workforce 

If a small business was willing to look past the stereotypes, this could be a real opportunity to access experienced workers. Age discrimination is a real issue, and people who want to work are often not hired at large companies. Think about it. Since when have you had someone with 20 or 30 years of experience in your market want to work at a small business, knowing it comes with a smaller salary? I bet the answer is never.  

It is a talent pool that is underutilized and underserved. So let’s think about ways to change that and to expand both your employee base and audience.

Unretirement – A Whole New Set of Entrepreneurs 

I was amazed by the statistic Mr. Farrell shared. 

For the first time, 25% of all business are started by people who are 55 to 64 years old. These older entrepreneurs are turning their passion into a business. What is different for these people is that many of these new entrepreneurs start to focus on a business with a purpose rather than just earning more money. 

Farrell, SBRS

Speaking as a Gen X’er, I know that I can be a little cynical when it comes to baby-boomers. However, it seems that they and I are sharing the same goal: work because you like it, not just because you need to. So let’s embrace these new employees for your market.

Working Longer May Keep Us Happier 

As we live longer, the traditional model for retirement really doesn’t make sense. We should embrace the idea of unretirement. Age has value if the aged are willing to learn and adapt. When I think back to my grandmother, who was born in 1914 and died in 2014, I am amazed at how much change she experienced. But in the end, she managed to evolve and adapt. If she could do it, why can’t we? 

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

5 Ways to Benefit from Your Small Business Size

use size to advantage

A problem that many of our clients at ProStrategix present is that they find their company’s size to be a disadvantage. Maybe your business is struggling against a large company for the same customers? Or maybe you are feeling like a David facing a Goliath. But here’s the thing: your business’s size can be the biggest success. Here are five ideas for how to look at the positive side of being a smaller business.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

5 Ways to Use Our Small Size to Create a Business Advantage 

Growth is something you should plan for and that you may soon need, but don’t ignore how your small business’s size can help you now.

1. Create Unique & Targeted Experiences

Make the experience for your customer unique. We don’t have the bureaucracy. For instance, if you’re a gym, how can you make it feel like a family or clique? Anyone can go to a mega gym, but your clients choose to join you. Why? Well, you’re one of the cool kids. Encourage bonding with your trainers, staff, etc. Relationships keep people coming back.

Even a clinic could do the same. Is your staff welcoming? Do they know your patients by name? If they know there’s a backlog, do they take the time to explain to the patient why? Our size allows us to build experiences where people can feel valued, not a number.

2. Customize for Your Clientele

You’ve created experiences that are unique to your own company, but you can also customize and personalize to your existent audience. We can use our small size to create an advantage for our small business. Personalization and customization take time, which is a precious resource. You can’t make every experience personal, but we can avoid the canned “one size fits all” approach. While marketing automation can be a godsend, it can also be a killer on this point. Where you can, the more you can personalize the experience the better. 

3. Be Flexible 

Building on the first two points, experiences and customization are two examples of flexibility. We can use our flexibility to create an advantage for our size of small business. How?

  • Less red tape
  • Provide faster decisions
  • More personal contact
  • More!

Also, don’t forget to reward and recognize your staff when they exhibit flexibility in servicing a customer or client.  

4. Listen to What Your Clients Want 

We’ve talked before about screwing up the sale. Think about this: how many times have you been at a big box retailer searching for something or someone to help? And when you do find them, how many listen? Like, really listen.

Don’t be that business. You’re small and have a dedicated staff that wants to be there working with you. Listen to your customers and help them help you. That can only help you grow in the future. 

5. Be Creative! 

We don’t have long chains of review and approval. Let’s use that to create an advantage for our small business. If you’ve done all of the 4 steps above, it’s probably not that hard to think of creative ways to make things better. If you know your customer on a personal level, and you’ve been listening, they’ll tell what they need. Jump on it.  

It’s Hard to Compete, but Your Size Can Be Your Biggest Advantage 

It will take resources, time and change to bring all of these steps to life. We know that’s the case too. It’s taken us time to figure it out ourselves too. We’ve created a base who feels welcome. They recommend us to others. They feel they’re being heard, and you are being flexible to their needs. So, it’s likely reciprocity will kick in, and they will volunteer ideas. 

All of the five above steps are interrelated. We’ve helped a number of businesses differentiate themselves using these steps, and you can do the same too. The size of your small business doesn’t mean the end of your business, and it will only grow with you as the business grows too.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

How A.I. is Transforming Business Lending

AI and Lending

The rise of Artificial Intelligence has completely shifted all forms of business practices. Specifically, A.I. is transforming small business lending in ways both positive and negative. On the positive side, it helps detect fraud, increases the speed of underwriting, and levels the playing field somewhat. On the negative side, A.I. loan monitoring can be both a blessing and a curse. So, it is wise to be aware of what these changes mean to your small business.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Funding is One of the Biggest Pain Points for Small Businesses

As we’ve said in multiple posts, small to medium size businesses employ nearly ½ of the nation’s workforce, but the sector is often overlooked. Whether it’s healthcare, retirement, or taxes, small businesses rarely have the advantages that big businesses do.

Funding is no exception. Small to medium-sized businesses often struggle with traditional lenders. Traditional lenders make the most money on big loans. Microloans and SBA loans are not their main focus. While SBA loans are hands-down the best option for small to medium-sized businesses, the application process is slow and cumbersome. We’ve discussed these challenges before, but digital lending may help alleviate some of these challenges.

Fraud Detection

Machine learning allows for better fraud monitoring

When it comes to small business lending, underwriters are always concerned about fraud. A.I. has vastly improved the fraud detection process with algorithms based on credit-bureau data, ID verification systems, and numerous other data sources. These algorithms provide a predictive probability of fraud, which can immediately flag risky applications. Thereby, it speeds the process along.

Somewhat Leveler Playing Field

The traditional lending process is laden with bias. Both gender and racial biases are well-documented. A.I. has the potential to lessen these biases, but its track record so far is a bit mixed.

That said, the A.I. models do use a significantly larger data set to help paint a more detailed picture of creditworthiness. This does helps avoid the Paydex paradox. In other words, you need a load to gain sufficient credit history, but how can you do that if you’ve never had one. It’s the “insufficient credit history” trap. While A.I. doesn’t eliminate all bias, it does help to level the playing field somewhat.

Hands-Down, A.I. has Dramatically Improved Efficiency

The best time to ask for capital is when you don’t need it, but few small businesses have that luxury. Historically, the review process for larger loans can take weeks at best, months at worst. Not to mention, the time it takes to collect and provide all the necessary documents and follow-up questions. Even if you didn’t need the capital at first, you could be in more dire straits by the time the process ends.

A.I. has made programs more efficient

The best time to ask for capital is when you don’t need it, but few small businesses have that luxury. Historically, the review process for larger loans can take weeks at best, months at worst. Not to mention, the time it takes to collect and provide all the necessary documents and follow-up questions. Even if you didn’t need the capital at first, you could be in more dire straits by the time the process ends.

A.I. solves this issue with its predictive models. These models dramatically streamline the underwriting process. The model can quickly provide eligibility parameters in hours vs. weeks. Thereby, it makes the process simpler for everyone.

Improved Loan Monitoring Through A.I.

This helps the banks, but not necessarily the small business borrower. However, this is the price we pay for the benefits above. Since lenders now have access to all this data, tracking your business is much easier. Those same A.I. models that were trained to improve fraud detection, level the playing somewhat, and speed things along, also were trained to predict default.

This is where a dose of caution is worthwhile. While improved loan monitoring does make small business lending less risky and more profitable for the bank, it does make it a bit more risky for the borrower. Lenders are a conservative lot. Therefore, given any mixed data, they are likely to interpret it more negatively. So, while you may think the business is fine, the A.I. model may not. It could be much harder in the future to secure a small business loan.

On the whole, the changes to small business lending due to A.I. are mostly positive, but with any new tool, it helps to understand how it can be used for you and against you.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

5 Quick Steps to Get Results for Your Small Business

Small business wins

As small business owners, we don’t have the resources in time or money to waste. You didn’t start your business wanting it to fall apart. To help you, here are 5 ways we’ve gotten results for our own small business quickly. While we can’t guarantee the same results for you, they are based on sound business principles that have proven successful repeatedly. Plus, they may help you as well as they helped us.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Blogging allows people to find your website easier

There are several ways to build your brand. Obviously, we believe that blogging is one of them. It helps you connect with your target audience. It helps improve search rankings. It’s nearly free. It’s time-consuming, sure. But, it also forces you to stay up to date with what’s going on in your market, and what matters to your customers.

Ashley Lipman for Lobster Digital Media has some helpful guidance on how to blog better.

2. Get Over Review Phobia

Second, reviews can really help. Reviews help establish your reputation and help build credibility. Websites like Yelp and Google show customers what they need to know about your company. It matters to get results that help your small business grow.

We know that it’s tough to ask for a review. Even we still struggle to ask for honest feedback. But, we found Jason Yormark’s NetBlaze post to be helpful.

3. Social Listening

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about Social media and social listening. Yes, social media is a crowded morass where you need to shout to be heard, but if you are smart about social the importance of the insight. ​listening, you can find what your customers care about, resulting in success for your small business In our posts about marketing content and about how to learn about marketing from politics, we speak about 

social listening

the importance of the insight.  Smart social listening can improve your chances of being heard since you will be speaking about what your customers care about.

4. Cultivate Influencers

Why do big brands, like Pepsi, use celebrities? They want to tap into that celebrity’s fans. Simple. We can’t afford celebrities, but we all have a micro-influencer we know. It’s about building relationships and seeing how you might be able to help each other.

On the smallest scale, it’s your local business community providing referrals for each other, getting everyone the results they want. On a larger scale, TopRank Marketing outlines some good suggestions.

5. Don’t Screw Up the Sale

You might scoff at this, but it’s not always common sense to everyone. Have you ever forgotten to follow-up with a client within a few hours? Maybe, been just a little too pushy and turned someone off? Perhaps, you just sold too much and didn’t listen? If you’ve done any other these things, you likely screwed up the sale. If you want more detail, we recommend you read SmallBiz Tech’s post.

For the Results You Can’t Guarantee, Bring Your Small Business to Us

If you want to get results quickly for your business, these 5 ways are a good place to start. There any many others, and we’ve found these to be the most helpful to us. If you want to learn more or if you think your small business needs more targeted tips, that’s where we can step in and help.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.