There are more and more entrepreneurs moving into the world of online business after running an offline business. Currently, there are 27 million entrepreneurs in the US. This is because of the potential of the online world, and the fact that many offline industries are transitioning into online ventures. Making this transition isn't always easy.
I spoke to Cameron Goss the Co-Founder of Quality Lead Associates to discuss the journey entrepreneurs have to make in this scenario.
AJ: Thank you for joining me today to discuss this issue. First of all, could you tell my readers about who you are, what you do, and where you came from?
Goss: Certainly. These days I'm an entrepreneur exclusively, 80% of my ventures are online. Prior to that I operated a series of car dealerships. For most of my business career, I have worked in a customer-facing environment running my own business.
I recognized the potential in what the Internet could bring to the table. In 2012 I decided to start an online business. That lead to a series of growth and acquisitions that brought us to where we operate one of the Nations largest lead Generation specializing in real time wholesale markets.
AJ: You said you saw the potential, but was making the transition easy?
Goss: I have to say no. That's why I decided to start with an industry where I had knowledge of before expanding. While operating car dealerships, I already had a general understanding of what both the consumer and the dealer were expecting. This was why it was relatively easy for me to visualize what I wanted our finished product to look like. I knew enough about the industry to make the transition.
However marketing, customer service, and the development of your product are completely different in the online world. The PPC funnel and conversion process is a massive undertaking to say the least. My advice to entrepreneurs would be to choose an industry you already understand, master that before you expand your footprint.
AJ: What would you say is the biggest challenge about making the transition?
Goss: The biggest challenge I faced was underestimating the day-to-day differences. That feeling of not opening your store in the morning is hard to get used to. You have to be able to motivate yourself inside a vacuum of isolation. You really need to be a great self-starter to get used to this. For so many years I embraced face-to-face interaction with my team. In the online world the majority of your communication is done via phone or email. Communicating your vision or getting comfortable with new employee over an email or phone call can be a challenge. I found it to be a difficult adjustment.
However unlike a normal business you have to be willing to work 24/7 and manage your time wisely. The Internet may not give you a land-based store to work with, but it's just as much work if not more. There are no posted hours of operation. This is why identifying exactly who your customer is early on is crucial. Online success will require utilizing a different set of skills, such as SEO, PPC, email, newsletters, and social media management.
AJ: How have you managed to keep things fresh in a competitive online world?
Goss: That was another one of the major challenges. In the beginning, I was overwhelmed at how quickly you have to change, but as you get used to it the process gradually becomes a firm part of your company.
You do have to keep things fresh. Your competition can launch a new site at midnight leaving you scratching your head at 6 am trying to figure out why your traffic is down. You have to keep one eye on the competition at all times. Not to mention changes from Google or Microsoft. Customer's needs and your competitor's aggressiveness to fill those needs have gone a long way to forcing companies to adapt faster than ever before. To combat this I try to surround myself with people that challenge me. Since my ego will not allow someone to outwork me, I discovered by surrounding myself with people that challenge me, forces me to always be on my "A" game, not to mention a room full of people that can challenge me makes a pretty darn good team.
These days' entrepreneurs are more tech-savvy than ever before, so it won't be as difficult for new entrepreneurs, particularly if they are younger. As long as you are using technology correctly and regularly, there's no reason why you can't adapt relatively quickly.
AJ: I would like to thank you for joining me today to talk about making the transition from an offline business to an online business.