Leading up to the day I launched my online store, I had every detail planned out perfectly.
I had read dozens of books on business and marketing and e-commerce and entrepreneurship and every other subject I could think of that was remotely related to my endeavor. I had carefully designed every detail of each product I was selling, picked out the perfect fabrics, tested prototypes, and had all of them in stock and ready to sell. I had designed and built my website, wrote all of the copy, tested all of the links, and optimized everything to the furthest extent I knew. I had business cards and social media accounts and everything I thought I needed.
I officially launched my business through a grand opening party that I hosted at a local community center, where I displayed my first products and took my first orders. It didn’t exactly go off without a hitch, but I still had a great turnout and wonderful feedback and quite a few orders. ]
The following Monday, I officially opened my online store to the rest of the world.
Sure, I got a few orders here and there, but nothing like what I was envisioning.
Just after launching my store, I found out I was pregnant (which could have contributed to a bit of the high emotions at my launch, lol) and I ended up being pretty sick for those first few weeks. When I finally started feeling better, I started taking my first real look at my analytics.
I was getting sales online, but only just enough to cover my basic expenses. There was no profit, and no real growth to speak of.
To be honest, it felt kind of like when I brought home my first baby from the hospital. I had read all of these books about how to prepare for parenthood and envisioned exactly what it would look like, but then when it finally arrived, I didn’t know what to do. I brought that baby home, put the car seat on the counter, and my husband and I just looked at each other like "um, now what?! We’re parents now. Holy crap!"
So now I had this new business "baby" and I didn’t know what to do with it.
In one of the books or blogs that I had read in preparation for my launch, I remembered reading about a group called SCORE, where experienced or retired professionals would help mentor new business owners. I found several people on their website that I thought could help me out and started reaching out to them, explaining what I was doing and asking them what I should do next.
One by one I began to get replies. Most of them simply told me something to the effect of "I’m sorry, but if you don’t have a specific question to ask me, I can’t help you." Finally one person seemed to take interest in me and my business. He asked lots of questions, a lot of which really got me thinking about what I was doing, and I started to feel good about my situation. I happily answered his questions, sometimes feeling like I was bragging with explaining how well I had prepared and how well I was doing, all things considered. We wrote back and forth for a few weeks, going over nearly every aspect of my business and operations.
And then he dropped a bomb on me. He told me that he was very sorry, but I had done everything wrong. I had chosen a market that was oversaturated, purchased products that no one would want, went about the business and operations in the wrong way, everything was wrong. My best bet, he explained, was to sell off everything I had purchased as quickly as possible, then close up shop and try something different.
I was heartbroken. I cried for probably 3 days (being pregnant and hormonal probably didn’t help much).
I figured he was right. I mean, he was the expert, so he had to be right. I didn’t know anything about really being in business. I needed to listen to him.
So I started to follow his advice.
But when you already aren’t getting much in sales, how do you just suddenly "sell everything"?
I pulled out my notebook that I used to plan out my business and turned to a new blank page and just stared at it, not quite sure what to do. On that page, I started writing the numbers 1-100, because I’m a list maker and I feel a sense of control when I have a list to work with. I resolved to come up with 100 different ways I could sell everything off and start over.
Some of the ideas were pretty crazy, things that would never work in a million years. But in order to come up with 100 ideas, I wrote down every single idea that popped into my head, crazy or not. I had a lot of lines to fill out, and even crazy ideas allowed me to chip away at building my list.
The funny thing is, the act of writing out all of my ideas, even the crazy ones, made my brain start to think differently. I would start to picture these crazy ideas, and how I might possibly make them work. How could I potentially make them a reality?
Then, sometimes I would see a path on how my idea maybe was not so crazy after all. Maybe it could legitimately work, and actually turn into something amazing.
Other times, I would see it differently. Maybe that idea was a little too far out there, but if I altered it slightly, I could make it work. And one crazy idea would lead to several brilliant ideas.
I wrote them all down. Every single one.
And I made it to 100. Even a little past that, because once those ideas start flowing, they don’t stop! Over time I kept adding to the list every time I had another idea.
Then I got to work. I looked through all of the ideas and picked a handful that I thought were the most viable and had the most overall potential. I mapped out the exact action steps I would need to do to get each of them done and when I would do each of them, giving myself realistic but ambitious deadlines. And I started doing them immediately.
The results came quickly and continued to compound, and not in the way I expected.
My plan from the beginning was to sell off everything I had and start over. But I didn’t.
I went from bringing in just a couple hundred dollars each month in revenue to my first $1000 month within 30 days. 60 days later I doubled my revenue again and had my first $2000 month. 60 days after that I doubled it again and had my first $5000 month. By the end of that year, only 14 months after launching my business, I hit my first $20,000 month.
I did end up selling off everything I had, but instead of starting over in a new market with a new product, I ordered more of what I had previously purchased. And more, and more. My business continued to grow exponentially, doubling or tripling in revenue every year until I was bringing in multiple millions of dollars in revenue.
I continued to use this method over and over again, whenever I felt stuck in any part of my business, and it worked every single time.
There is definitely a certain magic in challenging your brain to come up with 100 different ideas or potential solutions around a particular problem. To be the most effective, you shouldn’t draw out the process over more than just a few days at the most, and you shouldn’t multi-task or focus on anything else other than just the problem at hand.
Don’t just look at the problem through your own eyes and experience. Really look at the problem and examine it from all different angles. Think about it from different perspectives. Do your research and identify ways that people in other markets or industries have tried to solve the problem.
The answer is there. It exists already within you, you just have to do a little digging to draw it out.
And most importantly, never hold back. When you write down every idea that comes into your mind, you trigger in your brain that every idea has value and prompt it to give you even more. On the other hand, when you hold back on an idea, you trigger in your brain to stop the flow and only give you the best ideas. But sometimes you must wade through the silly, crazy, impossible ideas to get to the best and most valuable ideas. You must keep them flowing.
Try it now! Identify a problem that you have or a goal that you want to accomplish and start making your list of 100 ideas you can use to overcome your problem or accomplish your goal.
And let the magic flow!
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I’m a wife, mama to 4, baker, creator, fitness enthusiast, & 7-figure e-commerce entrepreneur, dedicated to helping you succeed in your own product-based business.
I believe that every business, and every person for that matter, has a light within them, a spark, that they need to share with the world.
Something that is already there, waiting to be drawn out into the open.
And that the more we share our light, the more the world glows and becomes more beautiful than we could ever imagine.
My goal is to help entrepreneurs find their spark and let it shine.