Listen to this episode if you want to future-proof your business and build one that will be around for years to come!
How to “Future-Proof” Your Business: My Proven Strategies SHOW NOTES
What’s up everybody? Anton Kraly here from eCommerceLifestyle.com and welcome to another episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle podcast. This episode is, kind of, a follow up on the last one I recorded a few days back. If you haven’t listened to that yet, just go look for it anywhere that you listen to podcasts. It’s called, What to Do When Somebody Rips You Off.
The reason I made that one, and the reason I think it was an important message to get out is because that conversation came up in one of our private Facebook groups this week for one of the businesses that I run, Drop Ship Lifestyle.
I basically just wanted to share my thoughts and what I’ve done in situations where people have kind of tried to rip us off, and the best approaches for, not only shutting people down, but getting all the money they make with your copyrighted content. Go back, check that one out.
I wanted to, I guess build on what I said there is because on that thread or, you know, the comments on our Facebook group, there was a comment from Hosea. He’s a good dude, part of Drop Ship Lifestyle.
Think Ahead By Future-Proofing Your Company
He actually spoke at our retreat last year about some cool stuff he’s doing with affiliates and influencer marketing in his business out in Mexico. He came and spoke there. But, yeah, he left a comment, and he basically said, “This is why I’ve been investing in content,”
He can kind of be ahead of the game when the market changes, right? I think that kind of went missed by a lot of people, his comment, but it’s a very good message. It’s something I wanted to share with you, and then also expand upon.
Basically what Hosea’s doing, you know, very rightfully so, and what everybody should be doing is what I call future-proofing your business, okay? It’s one part of future-proofing your business, because with the type of eCommerce stores that we build, you know we don’t want a burner store that gets hot for a few months and then fades into oblivion. Or we don’t want to build something that we put all this effort into, and we’re not sure if it’s going to be around for the next year.
Every business that I build and that I hope my students want to build, are ones that we’ll have for five, ten years, ones that we could sell that are huge assets. In order to do that, you do have to put some things in place to again, future-proof yourself and your business.
I’ll give you some examples of things that could have put me out of business early on, but didn’t, because luckily I was doing some of the things we’re about to talk about. The first, I guess tip or message I want to get with you, is you should never, ever, ever, ever, ever put all your eggs in one basket.
Another way of saying is, never rely on one person or on one business to power yours. This is one big thing that scares me with the Amazon FBA model. Don’t get me wrong. I know a lot of people are making a lot of money there. I have a lot of friends who have and currently are, but, you know, in that scenario you’re basically just Amazon’s seller, right?
They’re your customer, so if they wanted to shut you down, if they wanted to compete with you, then, “See ya,” right? What I mean with drop shipping, to relate this to that type of business, since at this point of eCommerce Lifestyle
Strategies to Future-Proof Your Business
I know most of our listeners are Drop Ship Lifestyle members, but I don’t want you to rely on just one traffic source for your store. An example of how this could have ruined me earlier on is, one of the traffic sources that used to generate literally, consistently six figures plus a month in sales, like $100,000, $200,000 months from one traffic source, was TheFind.com, and this was going back years ago.
This was a website that was basically like a shopping comparison tool, and it had a lot of loyal users, and we were able to basically rank really high on it, and get a lot of traffic, and get a ton of sales.
Then one day, randomly got an email that Facebook bought them. This must have been, I don’t even know, like 2013 or something. Let me actually Google it. “When did …” This is what’s good about doing a podcast on the computer. ” When did Facebook buy TheFind.com?” Oh, 2015. Wow! I thought it was longer ago.
Yeah, time goes by fast. In 2015, right, what happened? One day we got an email saying that Facebook bought them, and that some things were going to change and we weren’t really sure what. Then a few months later everything changed, right?
You couldn’t buy ads on it anymore. Then, I don’t even know, maybe a few months after that, it started redirecting to Facebook.com. Again, this was a traffic source that was generating hundreds of thousands of dollars per month in revenue from my eCommerce businesses, and just like that, they got bought out. Then it was like, “Alright, see ya.” That source of revenue, like, you know that’s gone.
Luckily, and maybe not just luck, because this takes work obviously, but that was one of my traffic sources, right? Google product listing ads have always been our highest converting source of traffic, and we still had that to fall back on. We still had our blog banner ads, our relationships with other people in our community that were sending us traffic, so it wasn’t all, like the business was gone.
But keep this in mind. If that was all I did, right, if I had started my e-commerce store and TheFind would have been doing that well, and I would have said, “I’m cool with a couple million dollar a year business, then, guess what? It would have shut down and my business would be gone.
It would not be future-proofed, because all of my traffic would be relying on once source, okay? It went from $100,000 months to zero from that traffic source when it died. The message there is, don’t again rely on one business entity or person.
Future-Proof Your Business by Staying in Control
Another example of how that could have put me out of business early on just hopefully so you can relate this to your business, is with PayPal. PayPal; you know I have a love/hate relationship with them.
It’s mostly hate, because they’re not the easiest company to work with. I’m going to knock-on-wood right now, because things have been going well with them for the past, I don’t know, five years or so. But early on we used them in addition to our normal merchant accounts just so people that wanted to use PayPal could pay with PayPal.
Once my stores started to ramp up, got to maybe it was like, I don’t know, $100,000 in a month worth of PayPal transactions, and basically what I would do is, once a week or so, would clear out that money and put it into the business bank account.
But one time in between that process, I didn’t do it in time, and they held over $50,000, and they said, “Guess what? We’re keeping this for six months, because your business is high risk. You’re new, and we need this as your reserve.”
Just like that, I had to wait six months to get $50,000. Again, I was new in business at that time, and that could have totally put me out of business, especially if I wouldn’t have withdrawn money earlier on, and if I only used PayPal as my merchant account, instead of PayPal with a traditional merchant account as well.
Another example of, if you want to future-proof your business, don’t let one thing be the thing that could put you out of business, right? Don’t let Google be in control of your business.
Don’t let Amazon be in control of your business. Don’t let PayPal determine that, because, guess what? At the end of the day, I hate to say it, but none of these companies care about you, so you have to diversify where you’re able to accept money from, where you’re able to get traffic from, okay?
As a general rule of thumb, something that we like to do in our businesses, something I recommend you do as well is don’t just say, “Oh, wow! Now I’m freaking out, because Anton just told me this, and right now 99% of my sales come from Google, right? What should I do?” Listen, what we do is take 20% of our resources, meaning people, time and budget, and again, roughly 20%, but we take that and it goes towards something new.
As far as traffic sources, if right now your 100% reliant on Google, maybe next month take 20% of your budget or start smaller, do 10% and start experimenting with other new things. They don’t have to be brand new to the market, but new to you. Then if they work, you scale it up, right? But don’t just think you have to change everything tomorrow. You can work up to that.
Prepare Your Business for the Future and Invest in Assets
Now, another big lesson that will help to future-proof your business is to invest in assets, okay? I don’t just mean things like getting a warehouse, or buying product, or just buying a bunch of stuff.
That’s not what I mean. I mean assets like digital assets, right, things that will benefit your business for years to come, and things that will snowball and make your business more valuable and really just stronger as time goes on. These are all things you can start today, whether you have 5,000 visitors a day or 20 visitors a day.
The first is an email list. Okay, this is also going to help you not just rely on one person, but if you’re not already collecting emails on your site, start that right away. I’m not going to go into all the ways that we do that in this episode, because sake of time. If you are interested in email marketing, you want to know more about it, go to eCommerceLifestyle.com.
Click on Courses, and then go and buy Inbox Funnels, because Inbox Funnels, you get all of our email marketing collection techniques and re-marketing techniques. But definitely start investing in growing your email list from now, right, as soon as you’re listening to this.
The next thing that you can invest in as a digital asset is content, so, things that, you know, it’s an investment, because it’s either going to take you time to create it or it’s going to take you money to pay someone.
These could be things like unique product images, where maybe you hire a local photographer near your main suppliers’ warehouses. They photograph the products for you and you only, so you can watermark them.
Maybe this means you’re having different buyers guides made for your website. Maybe you’re starting a podcast about your niche. Maybe you’re doing videos about your niche, whatever, but you’re actually creating content that’s going to last, that’s going to be out there forever. Again, that’s going to snowball over time to help build your business for the long haul, right?
Another asset that you’ll be investing is, is just, I would call it referrals, so making sure that your customers are ready to really tell everyone about your business and send people back, so, kind of turning your customers, and, yeah, customers into advocates and into loyal fans.
I call that the Hour Glass Funnel, and I also have an eCommerce Lifestyle podcast all about that, so, you know, same thing. If you want to hear that one, just go to eCommerceLifestyle.com, click on Episodes, go to the Hour Glass Sales Funnel, okay? So far we covered two things to help future-proof your business. Again, making sure you’re devoting 20% of your resources, time and money into other traffic sources, and basically things that will make sure your business isn’t relying on one entity.
Next thing is investing in digital assets: email lists, content and referrals. The next big thing that you’ve gotta do if you want to be around for the long haul, which again may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised. A lot of the people I talk to don’t do this, pay your taxes.
Again, might sound crazy, but do it. You have to, and that’ll put you out of business if the IRS just takes your bank account one day. It’s not that hard, and if you’re making money, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Go on Google.
Find an accountant and have them do your books and file for you. It’s not as scary as everyone makes it seem. Again, there’s accountants that, this is what they do. That’s why they have a profession. But make sure you’re taking care of that when you’re making money.
Don’t Forget to Future-Proof Your Business with This Strategy
Obviously another thing is tracking expenses. It’s amazing to me how many of these, like, I’m doing this in quotes right now. You can’t see it, I know, because this is an audio podcast, but it’s amazing to me how many of these, like, “internet entrepreneurs” there are that have no idea what their profit margin is, and really don’t know how much money they’re making.
If you want to be around for the long haul, you want to future-proof your business, you need to know how much money you’re making, where you’re spending money, and basically how to increase your bottom line. I would recommend using Xero, which is an accounting app that we use. It plugs in with Shopify. It plugs in with every software tool there is.
Oh, I have one of my videos playing right now. Give me one second here and I’ll pause this. Yeah, that was a video that just finished rendering on Setting Google Product Listing Ad Budgets, so if you’re interested in that, go to YouTube.com/DropShipLifestyle.
But back to tracking expenses, right? Use an app called Xero and hire a bookkeeper, if you just can’t figure it out yourself, which, you should be able to, unless you’re a huge business. Then you’ll want to get a bookkeeper.
Okay, another thing you could do to future-proof your business, make sure you’re around for the long haul is, treat your suppliers and your customers like gold, okay? Your drop shipping suppliers, the relationships you have with them are going to have a big impact on where your business goes in the future.
You want them all to think of you whenever they’re recommending retailers, whenever they’re telling people where to buy, whenever they’re in company meetings talking about their different retailers. You want to be top-of-mind all the time.
If you want to future-proof your business position and in, like the hierarchy of retailers in your space, always make sure that you’re paying your suppliers on time. That should be a no brainer. We like to do other things, like send them gifts. Maybe a bottle of wine or even a card around the holidays, and yeah, just treat them right.
Then obviously with customers, you want to have the best customer service that you can, because they’re the ones that are going to keep buying from you. They’re the ones that are going to tell people to buy from you, or not to buy from you in the long haul, so make sure that’s always number one priority in your business.
Then the other thing that I could say that you should do, that kind of gets lost once you get into the swing of things and once you start making money is to make sure you spend some time every week where you’re working, but your not working, where you’re not in your business, where you can step away and spend time to analyze your business goals and make sure you’re moving towards them, right?
If you don’t have goals set and drawn out for yourself, I would recommend another eCommerce Lifestyle podcast I’ve done. I’ve done a lot of these so far, so you should definitely check them out. But I’ve done one on goal setting and basically how to plan 20 years out.
I’ll post a link to that one, but once you have that and you know where you’re going, you know where you actually want to be in the future, then you could set aside maybe an hour or two every week where you just sit down. Maybe you have a pen and paper, whatever, and you’re away from the computer.
Take yourself out of the business and just look at your progress toward your long term, 20 year plan and goals and see if anything has to be kind of shifted around or if you have to change focus to make sure you don’t just get bogged down in the now, because this is about the long term.
I know we covered a lot in a short amount of time, but hopefully those tips help you out. All things that you’ve really got to do, again, if you’re not just trying to build a burner store. If you want to be in this game for a long time, I think the tips I just gave are a great starting point for anybody that’s either new to e-commerce, or honestly, even if you’re established and maybe you’ve just been neglecting them.
Go ahead, get this stuff implemented. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear them. You can go to eCommerceLifestyle.com. Click on Episodes, and then this episode will be called Future-Proofing Your Business. Look for it there. Leave a comment. Let me know your thoughts, and I will speak to you all in the next episode of eCommerce Lifestyle. Thank you, everybody.