A couple of weeks ago, in a conversation in the University cafeteria, a friend mentioned about how the state educates us to be employees and not entrepreneurs. This struck me that I spent the rest of that day reflecting on what he said. Well, come to think of it, we are taught how to behave in an organizational setting, how to interact with our colleagues, subordinates, or supervisors, or how to craft messages for our future clients. Never are we trained to engage in an actual business or manage a self-started project.
We are not being prepared for something that essentially unfolds before our very eyes: entrepreneurial opportunities. And for that matter, online entrepreneurial opportunities.
A survey by Yahoo and Harris Interactive reveals that majority of the US adult population is considering the great potential of online commerce. Results of the survey show that 72% of Americans have thought about engaging in entrepreneurship and 75% acknowledge the significance of the Internet in launching small businesses.
Also, an interesting finding of the study covers the reasons why people want to start business. Unlike what is expected, would-be entrepreneurs do not consider making money as their primary motive. In fact, 28% of the people surveyed ranked ‘to do work I love’ as the main reason for engaging in entrepreneurship. This is followed by ‘to be my own boss’, 25%; ‘to make more money’, 18% and ‘to create something people need’, 11%.
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In the Philippines, there has also been an increasing number of young people who venture into entrepreneurship especially online. I have friends who have had their online shops in Multiply since high school and believe me, they have been making money from it. Given this, nobody can now deny the fact that the Internet is becoming a strong platform to do business and earn.
So for those who are interested to ‘do the work they love’, ‘be their own boss’, ‘make money, or ‘create something people need’, here are some guides as you take the path to e-commerce. These are taken from a business blog on 77 Business Tips For An Online Entrepreneur.
1. A brilliant idea is worth nothing.
Unless you do something about it. We all have bright ideas but unless we make these work in real practices, we gain nothing. Entrepreneurs are people who don’t waste a single thought. Whenever something puffs in their head, they think business. As a good practice, every time you have an idea, ask “What can be done about this?” You’ll be surprised how you’ll be able to help others and gain big things from this.
2. Build a community.
You would not want to sell something online which no one would purchase. As you plan your business, think about your target, the prospect buyers. Is there an existing need for your product or service? Is the community wanting it large enough to sustain your business? Moreover, anticipate the public’s reaction to your business. Observe and ask. Don’t waste your time and money starting a business that does not cater to or is not supported by a considerably large and loyal community.
3. You sell processes, not products.
Selling is a process in itself. It does not end when you arrange your products in a shelf and place a sign For Sale! Neither is it done when someone expresses intent to buy the product. In business, especially when its online, you have to think about the entire process. How will you position your products online? How will the website look like? What can be the possible links to your site? Where do you get your potential buyers? How do they order the product? How do they pay? How do you receive the payment? How to they receive what they paid for? When you make this whole process easy for your customers, expect a good business.
4. Don’t look for traffic; look for trends.
A website with a thousand visits does not necessarily translate to good business. There may be a lot of people to click the link to your online shop and get to see your product. But that does not mean you have as much number of buyers. Assess your business not in terms of quantity but more of quality. Think of the development in your business, of how fast is your online shop growing and not of how many people just found themselves in your site. Again, it’s trends, not traffic.
5. Measure, measure, measure.
You have to know where your business is and to where it is going. Gauge your performance by using the metrics of profit, partners, and product development. Take time to pause and see whether you are meeting the targets you have set when you started your business. Measure impact and calculate results.
Yes, we are Organizational Communication majors. And rightly so, we are educated to manage communication within an organization. But I believe what is lacking here is the consideration of the fact that it is very possible that we will be not only managers, but more importantly owners of real businesses. This is why it is essential that alongside our communication training, we also get a dose of commerce lessons. Perhaps it’s time to integrate and appreciate an entrepreneurial mindset in the OrCom discipline, don’t you think so?