Why Your Online Store Isn’t Making Sales

This is a common question I see on message boards and through the grapevine of entrepreneurs. It also is a cause for concern in the bricks-and-mortar world, but let’s stick with online.

Anyone, anywhere can have a store. No longer do you need vast sums of money for a lease, employees and stock. You can do everything behind a screen. With that – the amount of online stores hawking goods from dresses (EverRose.com – plug, plug) to backpacks to cheeses is endless. The world is flat in this regard. However, just because it’s relatively easy to set up. It doesn’t mean it’s profitable.

no sale, no sale sign

Here’s why you’re not making any sales

1) Your online store is too cumbersome. You’ve read too many blogs about what you should have on your store, and instead of creating a simple process for those who buy – you’ve confused your would be buyer with link after link after link. Your product(s) should be the first thing people see when they visit your store. You should also have some info on shipping and returns, and a page that reflects who you and your business are (if you want to add a personal touch).

2) Your product photography looks like crap. You can’t sell a shitty looking product online, just as you can’t sell a shitty product. Here are some quick DIY photo tips.

3) No one knows you exist. I hope you’ve read this far as this is probably the most important item on the list. You can’t expect sales without people knowing about you. You need to market yourself. Hook up with bloggers or influencers in your line of work. My wife and I hook up with fashion bloggers to promote our product to their masses. We also buy advertising (funny thought), and it works.

4) If you have traffic to your site, and you’re still not making sales – check the options above. If you’ve done all of the above then you probably didn’t research your product upfront. If you haven’t tested to see if your idea works through family friends, then your idea is probably not going to work to others. Just because you think it would be cool to run an online t-shirt store, it doesn’t mean people are going to buy from you. Ask your friends and family first – see if they would buy. My wife and I’s online dress shop did this, and our first few customers were family and friends. From there the word spreads.

The above should point you on the correct path. I could write an endless post on why you aren’t getting sales, but the points above are the most common reason. You can always ask me to take a look too. I’m always free to give open and honest feedback.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Advertisements

Is Customer Service Dead?

You can get your groceries delivered to your door with the click of a button. You can shop hundreds of styles of clothes in less than a minute. You can connect with your friend visiting a town on the other side of the globe in an instant. All of this is possible behind a screen. With that, actual physical interaction with someone is slipping away. With the limited physical touches and conversations going on – has customer service taken a hit? When’s the last time a company went above and beyond for you?

The art of customer service

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”
– Walt Disney

Funny how one of the most valued commodities – if not the most – nowadays is time. You do whatever you can to save nanoseconds. You’d think businesses would see this and increase employees or response times to potential customers. However, it’s increasingly difficult to find someone with enough knowledge to actually answer the questions you need to be answered – whether it’s in-store or online.

In order to make your business stand out – try doing one step more. If you can answer one question – see if you can elaborate and suggest something more. My dad is amazing at this. He’s an upholsterer and every time he’s on a sales call – he always gets asked about the type / colour of the fabric his potential client should use. He answers the question by giving a few options and then BANG! He mentions pillows, and how a contrasting colour will make everything pop. It’s the classic up-sell, but it’s so much more than that. It’s providing value, suggesting something the potential client didn’t even think about, and increasing his profits at the same time.

Customer service quote

What can you do to add that extra touch?

My wife and I’s online shop – EverRose.com is similar. We try to add personal touches everywhere to ensure our fans know we care about them. After all, without them we wouldn’t be in business. My wife writes personal notes to each and every fan who orders. We also take it one step further than most online clothing stores by measuring each piece of clothing. This gives a comprehensive outline on whether or not it’s going to fit you. It’s all about taking it one-step further. It’s a pain in the ass on our end, but the end result is SALES. Plus, our fans love it. How do we know – they tell us in reviews and in personal emails they send us.

This is what makes your business a brand. It makes the person on the other end (customer) feel something for you, and your product / service.

“Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking ad.”
– James C. Penney, Founder, J.C. Penney

You want to know how to limit your advertising spend? Make your experience so memorable to a customer they’ll have no choice, but to recommend you to their friends and family. If that’s not enough – encourage them to do so by following up with requests for reviews (my wife and I do this for every sale by sending a personalized email to each fan). Word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising, and nothing creates more word-of-mouth than outstanding customer service.

It’s not that hard

With the majority of corporations pulling back on their customer service channels, and personnel it’s very easy to stand out. Even being present and engaging in conversation with your potential customer can put you over the top. At the very least give the customer what you’d expect to receive from a company. Then try and out do yourself. Make a suggestion above and beyond the question asked of you. Personalize everything. Respond as quickly as you can, and as honestly as you can.

A few of these will go along way in your customers mind, and will ensure success down the road.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Working 9 – 5 while having a business on the side

It’s an elusive balancing act that takes some time to master. You want / have to give 100% to your 9 to 5 employer, and you want to build something on your own on the side. I’m living proof that it’s very much possible, however it takes a serious amount of commitment. It’s a game of give-and-take. Do you watch Netflix or do you buckle down and do some bookkeeping? These are just a few of the questions you’ll ask yourself.

Here are some tips on how you can find time to build your business on the side while continuing to commit yourself to a 9 to 5:

 1) Build something online

It’s going to be extremely difficult to build something on the side that you have to attend to like a 9 to 5. That’s why e-commerce is so amazing. You can work on your site whenever you want – and the income rolls in 24-hours a day with little to no work on your behalf. Yes, there is a HUGE amount you have to put in before hand, but when it’s built – it’s a recurring income generator. If you don’t have an idea of what you can do on the side – here’s a quick guide to finding a product to sell online.

 2) Evenings and Weekends

This is your bread and butter. When your 9 to 5 stops – you put on your entrepreneur hat. This can be exhausting, so if you’ve had a tough day at your 9 to 5 – you may need to take an evening off. You don’t want your side biz to interfere and hurt your ability to work your day job. However, it can be done. You’ll have to work for it, and maybe miss out on things in your social life, but if you’re devoted to building something, and providing value to your future customers – you’ll succeed.

My wife and I both have 9 to 5 commitments, which we excel at. Then we come home, and get to our online fashion store – Ever Rose. I usually take 30 minutes to an hour in the morning to work through our social media channels – then I put my 9 to 5 hat on. In the evenings, my wife and I will fulfill orders, take product shots, edit photos, and do website maintenance. We also do our own bookkeeping using Wave.

It’s not easy knowing you won’t have a ‘day off’, but I’ve never done something that is so rewarding. Getting glowing customer reviews and having random strangers purchasing items is pretty cool.

Seth Godin, Seth Godin quote

 3) Have a Calendar

This is uber important. You need to keep track of what you’re going to do. The best way to do this is to have your 9 to 5 calendar as well as your side business calendar. I literally put everything into calendars. My wife makes fun of me because I always say, “If it’s not in my calendar, it doesn’t exist.” This helps me use my 9 to 5 brain power for what needs to be done, and helps automate the side biz for when I come home. It’s nearly impossible for me to forget what I need to do when I come home because an alert pops up every 30 minutes.

This also helps you focus on what needs to be done. You will be worn down, you will be tired, but those little alerts will go a long way in helping building your side biz. They’ll keep you on track, and keep your focus on what needs to be done.

4) Don’t worry about perfection

When it comes to your side business – just do it. Don’t worry about it being perfect or you’re never going to sleep. My wife is big on perfection – I’m big on getting things done and off my plate. What you see as perfect, may not be perfect in your customers eyes. Never waste time on being perfect. You never will be. Just get it done to the best of your abilities and move on.

At the same time, if one of your skills isn’t solid – than you may have to outsource. For example – if your English sucks and your trying to write product descriptions – get someone to proof your work. Whether it be a family member or friend – play to your strengths. You can also look at outsourcing work by using UpWork.

Finally, I know the struggle. I live it everyday, but I also know it can be done. You can be a 9 to 5 superstar and crack the whip on yourself everyday to ensure your side business is a success. Even a few hundred bucks on the side can make a HUGE difference. Whether you’re selling a product or service – you can be a 9 to 5er and an entrepreneur.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

95% of what you do is BS

I lost a family member this weekend. It was my first loss of someone who was really close to me, and when most of these ‘big’ things in life occur, it gives you a chance to reflect.

What’s important in your life? Does your job come to mind as the first thing? Or is it family? Is it a friend? Where do your priorities lie? Are you comfortable with that?

You need to prioritize what matters

In business, in life, in leadership, etc… 95% of what you or I do is BS. The other 5% matters. Out of the hundreds (or thousands) of emails, texts, or DM’s you get every day – a small portion matters. You’re gut knows what’s important and what’s not. Follow your instinct. Your human, and 9 times out of 10 your instincts will lead you in the right direction. Corporations will weigh you down in useless paperwork, emails, messages, small talk, and a whole bunch more. I always think of the movie Office Space and the mind-numbing reports the characters have to fill out. They’re pointless.

office space, tps reports

In small business and startups – the only thing that really matters is money. YOU NEED MONEY coming in. If you don’t have it – you’re dead. Everything else is BS. It doesn’t matter if you used the proper Instagram technique to gain followers. What matters is making sales. If you are making sales – how do you get more of it? If you aren’t – why not? If you need answers to these questions, and you can’t think of any – search for them online or get in touch with me as I may be able to help out.

So many of us get caught up, and drive ourselves nuts over pointless things. Things that stray from our priorities. When I first started my career, I was hungry for climbing the ladder, and money. I was very rarely present at home. I didn’t see my friends or my family much. Recently this has changed. I value family so much more, especially after losing a family member.

Your goals, and what’s important in your life and work can change

If you’re not happy with your life – it’s probably because your job is crushing you. If you’re not happy with your job, it’s probably because it doesn’t match up with what you want to get out of life. The biggest thing to remember is you have a choice. You can change your scenarios. You can align your life and business priorities. The transition may suck, but in the end it will be worth it. How do I know – I live it, and I continue to live it. I’ve seen numerous friends and family members on both sides of the coin. Those that love their life, and their work, and those that are miserable with either work or life or both.

Constantly ask yourself what’s important. It’s okay if what’s important changes, and it’s okay if you’re not 100% satisfied with where you are. You’ll get there (maybe not 100% of the way, but close). I put the questions at the top of this post in my calendar regularly, so I know to always check in with what’s important.

Appreciate what you have. Appreciate that you’re able to change and better yourself. Most of all, appreciate that you get the opportunity to do exactly what you want in life. You can do it, and enjoy it. You may not be the richest or smartest person in the world, but you can be comfortable and confident in who you are and who you can become.

What’s important?

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

The World has changed and Big Business hasn’t kept up

Adapt or Die. You may have heard this phrase before. It’s never more apparent than today. As a startup or small business you need to value your ability to adapt. That’s what keeps the ‘big guys’ on their toes. You have the ability to adjust on the fly where as the big businesses don’t. They’re mired in red tape, and meetings on top of meetings, and middle managers who are more concerned about keeping their jobs then about taking a risk to move the company forward.

The world of business is moving so quickly that most can’t keep up. Twenty years ago you went to school, got a decent job, worked your way up, and stayed with that company for many, many years…maybe your whole life. Now, on average you stay at the same job for 4-years. That’s nothing. There are so many options for you and I that it’s very easy to jump ship. Or say screw the corporate world, and start your own business. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it can be done. The tools are out there, and you no longer need a fancy degree from a prestigious college to get to where you want to be.

time to adapt, adapt or die

Here’s where Big Business is failing

  1. Hiring – take a look at job postings, especially those at larger companies. They want certain degrees, knowledge, etc…even for more entry level positions. However, the world has changed where the new wave of job seekers aren’t looking to get a MBA. They’re sticking with the arts or something more liberal. In essence, those large companies who are seeking new employees are effectively limiting their scope to a small percentage of the population. When in fact, they could have hundreds of candidates they don’t even look at who are equally as qualified or willing to learn, but they don’t have that pricey piece of paper.
  2. Benefits – my wife and I always joke that we missed the ‘Golden Era’ of business. Large expense accounts, business class flights, great benefits, etc… Before I left my corporate job within five years, my benefits were slashed by close to 30%. Did profits and revenues go down by 30%? No, but large corporations thought they could do away with benefits. This is the exact opposite of what most new job seekers are expecting. In the age of work life balance, and caring for one another – it’s a huge slap in the face to those looking for a corporate job right out of school.
  3. Transparency – before it used to be put your head down and get your job done. Now, with all this access to information – you can’t hide behind a pleasant email from the CEO (or CEO’s assistant). How many times have you heard of something positive or negative about your company BEFORE anything was said from within the organization. Nowadays you get updates straight to your phone. You didn’t have to wait for the news at night, the newspaper the next day or to go searching for it on the radio – it comes directly to you. New job seekers, and employees expect the truth – whether it’s good or bad. Or at least a version that’s close enough to the truth. BS will KILL YOU.
  4. Technology –  you only have to look in front of you to see how this world has changed. Whether you’re reading this on your computer, tablet or phone, you know exactly what I mean. Everything is changing quickly, and large corporations are mired in hierarchies, red tape, and endless indecisive managers. Something that may take one day in the startup world could take months or even years in larger corporations. Even with technology larger corporations have been slow to adapt. Those who aren’t looking forward – are in big, big trouble.

The above isn’t solely my opinion. I read / hear about these situations regularly. Recently, I spoke with a head hunter, and she was saying how most of the 20 – 30 year-old job seekers are looking for those companies that are willing to adapt. That are willing to change the status quo. Unfortunately for her, most of the larger businesses aren’t quite ready to adapt. Hell, I know of one company in the financial sector who, up until recently, didn’t have any digital / social footprint. Someone who was including tech stocks in their funds, didn’t have any idea how to use these platforms themselves. Thankfully, a bunch of younger fund managers urged the President to dabble in these areas. The blue-hairs are going to die off soon, and change is coming…FAST!

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Perception isn’t Reality

You can’t believe everything you see on the internet. You’ve heard this a thousand times. You also may have heard Perception is Reality. In most cases, this can be seen as correct. What people believe is their reality. If you drive a Ferrari, or wear expensive shoes the belief is that you’re well off. However, you never really know what’s going on behind the scenes. These people could be up to their eyeballs in debt, living pay cheque to pay cheque.

If you’re like me – you probably follow a few blogs, or those who publish on Linkedin. For example – I enjoy reading / following Ramit Sethi, Gary Vaynerchuk and Keith Ferrazzi (a quick Google of their names and you’ll get a bunch of results). Their stuff has me nodding along in agreement. Then, the sceptical guy in me wants to pull back the curtain to see how great things really are for them. In other words, do they practice what they preach?

A quick search on Glassdoor.com and you’ll see everything isn’t as rosy as the above and many others perceive. In many instances the biggest critiques of the companies of these ‘big’ CEO’s who have huge followings online is that their reality isn’t what was originally perceived. These companies tend to be disorganized, low paying, and not worth the time and effort. Again, you can’t 100% trust these online reviews, but it does bring everything into perspective.

perception, perception on black background

If it’s too good to be true it probably is

Another cliché and for good reason. NO ONE is perfect. Everyone (even you) and every company has their flaws. The funny part – is everyone can cover up these flaws online. You can put out media saying whatever you want it to say. You can cover up your flaws, and preach to the world that you’re the best, and everyone should follow your lead. You drink the Kool-Aid, and that’s okay.

The beautiful thing about the web is it also levels the playing field. If you want to do your research you can find out so much about people and companies. A quick search on Google or Glassdoor can reveal the good, and bad about you or your company. You can try and cover up as much as you want, but eventually the truth always comes out.

I don’t know if this has to do with our upbringing or what, but we always try and compensate or withdraw our flaws. In doing this, you make people sceptical because everyone’s BS meter is cranked to 10. You can’t ‘Fake It Till You Make It’ any more. People will find out.

Don’t beat yourself up over the perception of someone being more successful than you. You shouldn’t be comparing yourself to someone else anyway. You don’t know their circumstances, you don’t know the whole story, and most of all – you probably don’t even know that person. It’s easy to say, but so extremely difficult to do – BE YOURSELF! You will find those that follow you, whether in business or in life. In everything you do – you have a choice. Never forget that.

With the BS swirling around today – I try and be as forthcoming as possible with this blog. You can believe what you want, but I try and showcase my triumphs and struggles. It’s damn hard working a 9 – 5, and handling an online biz on the side. It’s exhausting, puts pressure on the relationship I have with my wife, and of course, hurts the pocket book. Having said that, I enjoy that I can be me. I can bring value to those around me, and when others are happy it makes me happy.

If you’re every doubting yourself or comparing yourself to others – reach out to me on Twitter or Linkedin, and we can chat about it. I know where you’ve been, and I plan on ensuring you can get to where you want to be. Heck, you may already be there, but just haven’t realized it yet. Your perception could already be your reality.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

5 Things Your Business Can Learn From Millionaires

First off – never get too excited about money. If you’re hungry for more money, go after it, but it’s a long grind. You also have to forget about other parts of your life in the pursuit of dollars. Having said that, they’re are many things you can learn from those who have made many dollar bills through their business(es).

Canadian Money, Money

Whether you’re content with grinding it out in a large corporation or if you want to hustle day-in and day-out as a scrappy startup – here are some things to consider:

1) You are in charge of what you want

Fate or coincidence or hard work. You may believe things happen for a reason, but you also have to understand you have a choice in the matter. The rest is left up to chance, but you can sway things in your favour by how much you’re willing to put in. You don’t have to accept the circumstances as they’re presented to you. You can choose what you want to do with your life, business, family, love life, etc… YOU HAVE A CHOICE!

2) You probably know a millionaire, but don’t know it

If money is what you’re after – you’d probably be surprised to see who has money and who doesn’t. Quite a few ‘flashy’ people I know are in HUGE amounts of debt. From the outside – they look like billionaires, but they’re living pay cheque to pay cheque. Don’t be fooled by looks. In fact, in the book The Millionaire Next Door they lay out some interesting stats about millionaires:

  • 20% of the affluent households in America are headed by retirees
  • Of the remaining 80%, more than ⅔ are headed by self-employed owners of a business
  • In America, fewer than ⅕ households is headed by a self-employed business owner. However, these self-employed are 4 times more likely to be millionaires

No flash, just gaining the fruits of their labour. No need to shove it down your throat. It pisses me off to see the amounts of money being thrown around by those ‘successful’ entrepreneurs. I’m assuming here, but 99% of those who have money, don’t flaunt it. Unfortunately, the social world has made it cool to show off your dough. You don’t have to be one of these people.

3) If you want to make it big – you’ll have to work for it

Nothing is given to you – unless you come from an extremely well-off household. Even then, you may not know it, and you’ll have to work for it. When you see successful businesses or ventures you mustn’t forget those are many years in the making. The best athletes and business people in the world didn’t get to where they are by luck. Yes, a bit of that helps, but so does hitting the gym every day, so does not being afraid to take a risk and get out of your comfort zone. Hustle will always win.

4) Passion is BS – most of the time 

There are so many la-la stories about finding your passion. For the most part – your passion doesn’t pay. I’d like to golf 100% of the time. That’s my passion. Unfortunately it doesn’t pay the bills. Here’s something to keep in mind from Illusions of Entrepreneurship:

  • 63% of new business owners admit their ventures don’t have a competitive advantage.
  • There’s no evidence that entrepreneurs select industries where profits, profit margins and revenues are higher.
  • Only a third of those surveyed say they really did a search for a good business idea.

Aka – if you don’t have an idea, think you’re special or don’t know what you’re passionate – that’s okay. If you currently like what you’re doing, and it pays the bills, then maybe there’s something in that line of work that can help you. My wife loves to write fiction. Unfortunately it doesn’t pay the bills. However, she freelances on the side as a writer doing odd jobs from writing descriptions of bird cages, to being a word-smith for one of the largest branding companies in North America. THAT PAYS!

She had to hustle on sites like ODesk (now UpWork) for a few months until she landed a big fish. Hustle always wins.

5) Understanding delayed gratification

Everyone is a victim of this including me. You and I always want that instant gratification. We instantly want a return. We put in – we get out. That’s it. Unfortunately, when starting your own business, or working for YOU INC (aka yourself at your 9-5) you have to put in the hours. I started working at the age of 12 filling out scorecards for Men’s Club Championship at the golf course I was a member of. I also cleaned clubs. I did this for 2-years until I worked my way up to handling the junior program, scheduling other staff members, and selling items in the pro-shop. I didn’t go from 0 – 100 overnight. It took years of hustle, and me being as reliable as they come.

The same can be said in business. If you have the ‘build it and they will come’ mentality – you will die a slow, bank breaking death. You have to keep in mind there’s someone else out there who’s just as hungry for success as you are…if not hungrier. It sucks, but you have to put in the work.

Since we started our online fashion business (Ever Rose) back in January – my wife and I haven’t had a single day off. We work 7-days a week. We work 9-5 jobs then come home and work on the store. We just had our best month of the year in one of the slowest months for fashion. We’re also ranked in the Top 5% of store traffic on Shopify out of all the stores that were created around the same time ours was. Why? We hustle. We’re exhausted, but we hustle. And the money is starting to follow.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft