The struggle is real

Not every great idea or product gets the attention it deserves. Nowadays you have to buy the attention. Everyone who’s telling you to just keep pushing great content and eventually you will earn a fortune is hiding the fact that you also need to advertise. You need to spread the word and you need a bit of money for it. Furthermore you need money to keep improving your product or service. Without money you’re trying to fight a battle with a spoon.

Without money you’re trying to fight a battle with a spoon.

Social Media might help to spread the word for free but the successful examples of little businesses becoming very, very popular are rare and more often than not you need a lot of luck to have your viral moment.
As an example I can tell you the story of my father, who sells olive oil online. He started that thing as a little side-project when olive oil was still this very niche product, that did not get the attention it is getting now. He’s been selling olive oil for up to twelve years now and since then the business became (a little) more successful. But it never, every sky-rocketed. Why? Because he did not have the budget to spread the word and he did not have the power to do all the marketing himself. This simply is a full-time job. There are so many stories to tell about olive oil. There are so many facts the public does not know. There are so many differences in the quality of the product that very few people can taste or identify. To this day my father still wants to write a book about all of that, but there simply is not enough time. And someone also has to pack the packages and that someone also happens to be my father.
So he is doing everything in his power to make the business more successful but it just isn’t enough. Without a certain amount of equity it is a very exhausting mission, physically and mentally.

It’s heart-breaking to see that he has all these ideas but not the power to kick them off. And then there is the online shop system that needs to be updated and maintained. That as well is time-consuming and sometimes nerve-wracking. Because there is not the all-in-one e-commerce solution. Then there are all these regulations when it comes to selling goods online in Germany. Like showing the base-price for every product. Things that Shopify cannot do out of the box for example. Instead I implemented a shopping solutions that fulfills all the legal terms but is a pain to use when it comes to the backend and to editing content. There is not that perfect solution. And again you need time and money to find or build it. Cheers to all the small business owners who can do it all!

So, what to take from that:

  1. When you’re starting an (online) business, make sure to have some money on the side, for software, marketing and maybe even a helping hand.
  2. Just keep doing it. Having an online business needs patience. Without patients you could also just look out for a full-time position and be done with it.
  3. Get help. You don’t have to figure out everything by yourself, talk to people who've done something like that before. You're not much of a developer? Get someone to help you maintain your online shop or marketing site. There are even easy-to-use website generators that can help you do the job.
  4. Use free stuff! There is a tiny AdWords budget Goggle gives out for a trial – use it. MailChimp is letting you send newsletters to 2.000 people for free. Better send some newsletters! Every little thing can help.

And if you’re wondering, where you can buy some good olive oil. Look not further! (All in German)