As Wayne Gretzky so wisely said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” This is a great mantra for new entrepreneurs because business owners, perhaps more than others, know that in the end, they will most regret the opportunities they never took.
Of course, entrepreneurs also know that there are risks involved with every opportunity. But if you can recognize the risks, look past them, and see the path to the rewards, then you know you have a winning effort on your hands.
Kirk Cooper is very familiar with this risk versus reward calculation. When he founded his e-commerce consulting firm, Ecom Automation Gurus, he knew that taking calculated risks was part of the entrepreneurial journey, so he was able to stay focused and grow his business by 8 figures. And now he’s teaching others how to build fully automated, profitable, zero-touch eCommerce stores.
Still, Kirk cautions anyone thinking of starting their own e-commerce business to weigh the risks against the rewards. So let’s take a look at the risks and rewards you should have on your radar.
Risks of operating an eComm store
Before discussing the specific risks, it is important to note that there are no guarantees in life. “It’s best to make flexible plans, set realistic goals, and then take things one day at a time,” says Kirk.
With that said, running an eCommerce business can be a great side hustle or an incredibly lucrative full-time business. Success depends on your ability to eliminate, mitigate, or accept risks. So, let’s dig deeper.
Amazon can suspend your account at any time
Account suspension happens in most eComm stores at some point and it’s not much fun to deal with. Therefore, it is not a question of if, but when you will face this risk. All you can really do is hope it doesn’t happen right before Prime Day or over the holidays.
When it happens, your sales are suspended and Amazon holds your money. This can happen to you even if you haven’t done anything wrong. Someone could hack into your account, hijack your listings, file fraudulent seller claims against you, or issue unfounded complaints. Any of these can raise red flags.
“If your account is suspended, you should file an appeal immediately,” says Kirk, “as it will take time for them to investigate and reinstate your account.” In the meantime, you may have to deal with expenses like storage fees. The important thing is to act quickly and be decisive.
Overcommitting or overleveraging can sink your store
“I’ve seen a lot of people who are new to e-commerce make the mistake of going all-in on one product or brand,” says Kirk. The problem is that while you may find gold at first, e-commerce is constantly changing, so before you know it, you may have a bunch of sellers competing against you.
For this reason, Kirk recommends branching out, keeping your skills sharp, and scaling your business appropriately. “I see so many marketers treating eComm like it’s a get-rich-quick scheme and I’m saddened by those who believe the hype,” says Kirk.
Actually, you should run your eCommerce business the same way you would run any other type of business you are starting. Remember, at the beginning, you are responsible for product research, building supplier relationships, product fulfillment, and customer service. It’s all you.
Income can be volatile
Because e-commerce is constantly changing, it’s important for sellers to keep up with trends. This also means that there is some volatility involved. However, certain streams of income are more predictable than others.
“One way to mitigate this risk,” Kirk says, “is to experiment with different types of stores on different platforms until you figure out which one works best for you.” But you’ll need to be prepared for the ebb and flow of sales that comes with the territory here. Kirk works with clients and runs three types of stores himself: wholesale, private label, and drop shipping.
On the one hand, wholesale and private label tend to offer slower growth, but after the first 12 months, when you have established relationships with brands/suppliers, you will see more consistent and predictable earnings. One challenge with private or wholesale branding is that you need significant capital (liquid cash) to dictate the types of returns you want to see.
On the other hand, with dropshipping, it’s possible to use your credit card to buy from the supplier and then use Amazon revenue to pay off balances. While dropshipping can be more profitable right off the bat, it can also be a bit more volatile than wholesale.
Rewards of running an eComm store:
Despite the inevitable risks of any business venture, many choose e-commerce because the rewards promised to those with a long-term, abundance mindset are incredible. So let’s now move on to the rewards.
Fluid monthly income
Yes, selling on Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Shopify has its ups and downs, just like any other online or retail business. The key is learning the ropes and understanding the investment of time, energy and money it takes to achieve your goals.
“I can’t promise you that starting an e-commerce business will be like installing an ATM in your living room, but I can promise you that the sky is the limit,” says Kirk. What makes the difference? Well, Kirk will tell you that the best part of running your own business is that you are in charge. If you want passive, free-flowing monthly income, all you have to do is work the system.
freedom of time
You can run your eCommerce business from anywhere, at any time. If you’re looking to replace your current 9-5 hours, eComm is a great option. You can start as a side hustle by working a couple of hours a day and once you get some decent cash flow in, you can hire a team to run your store. Viola, freedom of time! You earn money while you sleep.
Play your cards right and sell your eCommerce store
“I have a client that we passively built an e-commerce store for, who found an investor and sold it for $1.5 million,” says Kirk. “Now they are starting over with a completely new business and plan to turn it around after three or four years.” The great thing about eComm is that you are building a genuine business. If it’s profitable, you’ll have little trouble finding a buyer when you’re ready.
So if you’re considering taking the plunge, follow Kirk’s words: “Anything is possible. If you work hard and commit to achieving your dream, you can make it come true despite the risks!”
Ecom Automation Gurus, founded by Kirk Cooper, creates a fully automated eCommerce store for its users to help generate passive income. The founder and CEO has been featured in Success Profile magazine and is a contributor to Entrepreneur.com. To view their services and book a call, visit their website here.