online business

Here’s What it Really Takes to Create a Successful Online Business

E-commerce is one of today’s most buzzworthy industries, with countless solopreneurs claiming overnight success. These advisors in The Oracles share what it takes to build an online company that stands the test of time.


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Have a testing mindset

Tamara Mellon

The world of e-commerce is constantly changing, including the channel your ideal customer uses to discover new brands, the creative she responds to, or the experience she or he expects.

The best digital businesses leverage the flexibility and immediate feedback loop e-commerce provides and deploys tests quickly (new channels, new creative, new experiences) that reveal what is or isn’t working. Data is the best guide for where to invest more heavily and how to scale your business.

— Tamara Mellon, co-founder and chief creative officer of luxury footwear brand Tamara Mellon; co-founder of Jimmy Choo; equal pay and women’s empowerment advocate



Share your story

Kara Goldin

Start with a product that has a purpose or solves a problem. In our case, Hint Water was a healthy, enjoyable alternative to all the sugary, sweet drinks out there; it’s water that makes you love water. Then share your authentic story with consumers. Start a conversation, interact with them, listen to them, and educate them.

It’s also important to keep your website dynamic, both visually and verbally. The content should be engaging and give consumers a reason to stay on the site and fall in love with your product. While you should change the site often, never lose your core identity or stray from the mission of your business.

We offer different incentives through a rewards program, create fun bundles, and make it easy for people to have Hint delivered every month via our subscription service. It takes constant attention and evolution, but essentially it’s about having a brand personality and always relating to your customer.

— Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint Inc.; creator of The Kara Network, a digital resource for entrepreneurs; and host of the “Unstoppable” podcast; follow Kara on Twitter and Instagram

Embrace the ‘Unicorn Principle’

Rafael Romis

A unicorn is a one-of-a-kind creature. Consider what makes you, your brand, or your product unique — in other words, a unicorn. Then research and test this differentiator to find out whether your target audience cares about it. If they do, you’ve hit gold: that’s the “Unicorn Principle.”

Your job then becomes finding the best way to communicate with your audience so they learn about this uniqueness. Advertising and influencers can help. Before investing in marketing campaigns though, listen to what your audience is talking about. (Hint: Check their Instagram feeds and read their comments). It all starts with offering something special.

— Rafael Romis, founder and CEO of award-winning digital agency Weberous and e-commerce strategist at Generate Culture; connect with Rafael on LinkedIn

Sell a quality product and read reviews

Matt Clark

Research what people say about your competitors and incorporate their feedback into your product. Amazon reviews are a great source for this information.

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of ignoring their customer reviews. For example, an e-commerce entrepreneur recently came to me for help understanding why sales of his electric dog collar were tanking. Others had told him to fix the copy on his Amazon product page and improve his ads. But I took one look at his reviews and told him, “Your product doesn’t actually work.” Customers complained that it only lasted a few weeks, then died, and mentioned a bunch of other fixable but important issues.

Sell the best possible product and continually make it better. Our community member Robin Guess is the owner of Beau Gâchis Cosmetics, which has sold nearly 4 million units. She says it well: “Provide what the customer wants with honesty and integrity.”

— Matt Clark, co-founder and chairman of Amazing.com and co-creator of Amazing Selling Machine; connect with Matt on Instagram


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Promote your product with videos

patch baker

Creating a successful e-commerce company depends on your goal. If you’d like to sell the company one day, produce a product that people will purchase on impulse. To build a long-term business, you need to build a personal brand and explain to your customers why you’ve created it.

One way to do this is by producing videos about how and why you do what you do, and what your product can do for your audience. Video ads are cheaper than images, but you need to change your content every three to six weeks. Post them on social media, and test new content until you find what works. If you can create videos quickly, you can sell products — assuming yours are good quality and reasonably priced.

— Patch Baker, founder and CEO of Mobius Media Solutions; former U.S. Marine, with a mission to help people leave the military today and not feel abandoned tomorrow

Focus on the three S’s

Allyson Byrd

There are three parts to a successful e-commerce business: subscriptions, sales and scale. Consumers are hungry for solutions, but they also have decision fatigue; so meet them where they are. Get them excited with a clear, subscription-based offer that is unique to “them” and gets delivered straight to them. Sell it to those most relevant to your delivery model, then scale.

E-commerce doesn’t have to be difficult. After all, the overhead is much lower than with a traditional brick-and-mortar business; so you have a head start. Think of the “e” as easy and effective commerce. Do business that you like, sell to customers you enjoy, and step into the sweet spot of modern entrepreneurship — where you get to win your way.

— Allyson Byrd, top sales trainer, who generated $13 million-plus in sales revenue for clients in 2018; Amazon best-selling author of “Leave Your Mark” and founder of The Church of Profit Acceleration; connect with Allyson on Instagram and Facebook


Originally published on businessinsider.com. Copyright © 2019 Insider Inc. All rights reserved.

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