Starting my company JavaPresse was a bold step for me, especially because I planned on maintaining my full-time job while doing so. As entrepreneurs, we are always searching for game-changing ideas. The e-commerce economy has been on an upward trajectory with no signs of slowing and I knew that's where I wanted to explore my options.

It is never wise to jump into a new venture without first investigating if it is the right move for you and your investment. There is an overabundance of areas to consider before getting your foot in the door, and conducting the correct research is paramount. Market research, learning about your customers, knowing how to grow your audience, and cash flow are vital aspects to a successful entrepreneur. 

If your first, or next, e-commerce venture is to be sustainable, start by considering these important factors. 

Conduct smart market research.

Being successful as an entrepreneur in the e-commerce space takes dedication to the right market research. Finding the right product is paramount. It must be a product that appeals to consumers' needs and wants as well as engages them where they are in life. 

When I started my company, I studied over 100 different markets, product lines, and niches before choosing the industry I wanted to serve. In my research, I studied four main areas: price point, competitors, pain points, and profit margin. Through this process, I discovered a list of potential product possibilities, as well as setting up the next phase of my research.

Know your audience.

Finding the right audience is just as important as finding the right product. One thing I needed to find out was how excited do people get about the products and experiences associated with this niche. To accomplish this, I used three tools. 

Audience Insights on Facebook allowed me to assess consumer behavior on Facebook through relevance scores, which measured how relevant the posts a specific page puts out are to their target audience. Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner provided me with information on how many people were searching for particular keywords online, and the frequency of those searches over time.

This ability helped me understand how many people were searching for the coffee-related products I had identified on Google. Finally, Kickstarter supplied information that allowed me to assess how successful product launches related to coffee were. I was able to learn how receptive consumers were going to be to my new and unknown brand. 

Once the right audience has been identified, speak to them, and grow that following. Make sure there are a variety of people in your target customer base. Interacting and engaging with consumers will help you learn more about them and exactly what they are hoping to gain from your product. The feedback will be authentic, allowing you to meet customers where they are and gain valuable insight into what they value.

Allow that audience to grow organically. Your happy and engaged consumers will share with their friends and family about their love for your product. 

In the beginning, it's all about sales and cash flow, not profit.

Starting a new venture is hard, and cash flow can be tight. In early 2018 I had the unique opportunity to meet and learn from Shark Tank's Daymond John, and he gave me a great piece of advice. You must spend money to make money. This means investing in developing your product, making it better, and fine-tuning it, so it's better than the competition. 

In the beginning, and to this day, sales remain my top priority. I have always invested a sizable amount on the best training and mentors so that I develop an edge over the competition. Invest in the type of mentors you can help you achieve your goal. For me, that was learning how to sell online effectively. 

Be nimble in product development, so you create a product that generates a steady stream of cash, allowing you to continue to serve your customers. Be generous with your company and invest the profits you have coming back into the business, focusing on making the product better, marketing, and advertising. 

Cash flow can be stressful, but if you stay on top of the numbers and keep your goals in sight, don't let it overwhelm you. With wise choices, based on valuable research and planning, the cash will flow even when you take a vacation.

Entrepreneurs are all about opportunities that are intriguing, promising, and sustainable. The right venture can't be rushed. Stick to your plan, learn and research as much as you can to make sure your product is of excellent quality, fills a need or niche in the marketplace, and attracts the type of consumers you are targeting.

Continue to push forward, make the hard decisions that propel your product and business onward, and you will reap the benefits of your hard work in the future. Entrepreneurship is not for the timid, and you must be willing to work hard and make sacrifices. The result of being passionate about your work and staying true to your values will allow you to serve your customers better than your competition.

Published on: Feb 17, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.