10 Years Later: What We’ve Learned About Building a Successful Online Business
Commercial Bargains celebrates 10 years this month. Building our business from a start up based out of – where else – a basement has provided us with many indispensable lessons we’d love to share.
We started with a $10,000 investment and a goal to offer commercial-grade products such as BBQ grills, bounce houses, food service items and more, to regular consumers. That’s how we came up with the name, Commercial Bargains Inc.
Right away, we aggressively invested our profits back into our company and our revenues reached $1 million by our second year in business.
Inc. magazine recognized Commercial Bargains as the top 1628 out of 5000 businesses, and we ranked among the top 500 fasting growing companies in Wisconsin. It’s something we’re proud of, yet we felt we could have done better if only we knew what we know now.
In fact, being part of the Inc. 5000 was just an early pat on the back for our company.
Learning as you go
If you’re a new or lightly seasoned entrepreneur, you likely get most of your business lessons from online articles like this one. This is the information age, after all. That said, understand the truly valuable information is not free.
As you fill in the gaps reading blogs like this one, seek out the proven thought leaders. Purchase their books. Attend seminars and join networks. Form close relationships with other online entrepreneurs who have gone through the rough years of starting out.
Today you may be a small business owner, but you must think big and dream big. Your success will match the size of your goals and determination. Keep learning new things, expect to make mistakes and don't be afraid of the unknown. Try new things.
Building on what matters
Everyone says they have great customer service. All that matters is that you prove it with every customer interaction. Focus on constantly improving, and always consider your customers’ online shopping experience. Give consumers buying confidence so they return to you again and again.
Great feedback and positive reviews from the online community are critical for any online business's success. Have at least one social media presence, such as Facebook, where customers can have a forum to share their experiences. This is a great way to know what you’re doing right and, just as important, what needs improvement. Fix any problems right away to protect your reputation and improve your business model.
After 10 years selling online to different marketplaces, we believe still have much to learn. As e-commerce continues to mature, we’re responsible for helping to innovate the way people shop online.
As we perfect our company's philosophy here, we can better position our company to expand our product line, sell across trade borders and continue to reach potential and hidden marketplaces.
Best of luck to you as you grow!