While taking a long sauna today I began thinking about different mindsets that e-commerce entrepreneurs can have and specifically about if it is better to be an optimist or a pessimist if you running an e-commerce site, and if the answer might change depending on which stage of your business you are on. Below are some thoughts about what I ended up concluding.
When you should be an optimist
I believe that, especially, when you are just starting out with your internet store it is important to be an optimist. If you are more inclined to pessimistic thoughts it is simply very easy to come to the conclusion that you are never gonna succeed as an online entrepreneur. After all, at this point the internet is FULL of online stores and pretty much regardless of what you are going to sell online, you are going to face tough competition. So you might start asking from yourself, why would anyone (except maybe your friends) choose to buy from your store, instead of, let’s say from Amazon.com – especially if the more established player is able to offer a better price or faster shipping, and in the case of Amazon often both.
The above thought process is usually more common in a situation where you plan on selling 3rd party products such as mobile phones or fishing lures which were made by some company which you don’t you own. But even if you are going to create your own unique products it is easy to get discouraged, after all with couple billion people already online and couple more billion coming online in the next few years, the odds are that in reality your product is not so unique that a potential customer couldn’t replace it with another product, created by someone else.
When you look a both of the above examples from an outsider’s perspective it is easy to see why, even the most pessimistic of us should try to somehow pump ourselves up with a doze of optimism when starting a web business – otherwise you are never gonna even give yourself a chance to succeed as an e-commerce entrepreneur!
Now, it is, obviously, important to note that while being a pessimist before launching your store can be very harmful to your chances of succeeding, being too much of an optimist can also be very harmful – some ideas simply have very low chances of succeeding, especially if the timing is wrong.. you would have to be able to offer something extremely special to for an example be able to run a successful online VHS rental business in 2015 .
So to conclude, when you are just getting started, you should have faith in yourself, but at the same you should try to look at your business idea critically and get feedback from people who are gonna give it to you with honesty and knowledge.
Is there ever time to be a pessimist
Maybe somewhat surprisingly I actually do believe that there is a time when you should become at least bit of an pessimist when running your store. In fact, I would actually say that the bigger and more successful your store becomes the more of a pessimist you should become – now you should never obviously become so much of a pessimist that your are paralyzed by the fear and pessimism, but when things are going well it is very easy to start thinking that things will always continue to go well and that you don’t need to continue improving, but that is exactly when you become vulnerable in the ecommerce business!
Amazon is a great example of an e-commerce company that keeps continuously doing small and big improvements, even though it is especially in the US almost dominant in the business of selling 3rd party goods on the internet. On the other hand there have been companies which became too complacent and faded into obscurity.