Today marks the beginning of Small Business Month, a national celebration of entrepreneurs and small business owners across America. While these businesses may be small in size, their potential is anything but: giants like Facebook, Apple, and Google initially started as one- or two-person shops. Even DreamHost was started in a dorm room!
While many people aspire to run their own businesses, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur — especially in the digital age. It takes a specific type of personality to handle the nuts and bolts that make up an online business. To help you decide if you’ve got what it takes to start your own web-based biz, we’ve compiled this list of vital entrepreneur characteristics.
Can you handle the hustle?
1. They’re Highly Motivated
Being an entrepreneur means being your own boss. Not having a supervisor may sound like a huge perk, but when nobody is around to tell you what to do, it’s easy to sink into stagnation. And that’s not going to work — especially on the web. Successful business owners are people who are good at self-motivating. They know that no boss will tell them to hurry up and finish that project — they’ve just got to make it happen all by themselves.
Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour, says that while it’s easy to make excuses for why you’re not building a business, a real entrepreneur will simply go for it anyway: “There’s an entrepreneur right now, scared to death, making excuses, saying, ‘It’s not the right time just yet.’ There’s no such thing as a good time.”
His tough-love approach is typical of the entrepreneurial mindset. “I started an apparel-manufacturing business in the tech-boom years,” he says. “I mean, come on. Get out of your garage and go take a chance and start your business.”
Plank initially began Under Armour out of his grandmother’s basement. Today, his company employs 11,000 people and earns $4 billion in yearly revenue — a small business no more! — but it would never have gotten off the ground if he hadn’t taken his role as his own boss seriously and amped up his self-motivation.
Related: 17 Ways to Stay Focused When You’re Working from Home
2. They Embrace Technology
Good entrepreneurs know that the tools of the trade are always changing, so they never get too comfortable. They know they can best serve their customers by keeping up to date withthe latest solutions technology offers.
Today successful entrepreneurs know that every business, no matter the size, needs to have an online presence. Potential customers spend more than 10 hours a day looking at screens, so a website is the best way to get eyes on your service or product. And having a website doesn’t mean having just any website; ideally, you’ll have one that loads quickly, looks equally great on desktop and mobile, and stays online with little downtime.
DreamHost knows what small business owners need — after all, more than 90 percent of our customers are in business for themselves. For entrepreneurs who’d rather be focusing on customers than worrying about websites, our DreamPress service removes the guesswork, keeping customers’ WordPress sites automatically configured so they can focus on growing their business.
3. They’re Focused on the Customer
You can’t run a successful website or business if nobody is interested in buying your product or service. That’s why good entrepreneurs know that customer retention should be the crux of their operation.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, initially set up his company in his garage. He says there’s never been a moment, from those one-man days until now, when he took his customers for granted. “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better,” he said.
Perhaps that’s why Amazon has such a massive customer base today. Rather than treating buyers like a necessary evil that keeps him in business, Bezos saw them as invitees that must continuously be courted and made to feel appreciated.
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4. They Fail and Try Again
Top entrepreneurs know that getting it wrong sometimes is simply part of the game. They’re not held back by their setbacks, but see the entrepreneurial process as a learning experience.
Drew Houston, the CEO and co-founder of Dropbox, has declared, “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” In fact, sometimes your previous failures pave the way for your future successes. Before striking gold with Dropbox, Houston worked on a number of other startups, most of which you haven’t heard of because they never went anywhere. But those early attempts taught Houston how to run a successful company later on.
5. They Differentiate Their Products
The best entrepreneurs take a timeless or popular idea and find a way to make it fresh. For example, did you know there are over 117 companies that make mobile phones? But when consumers need a new phone, it’s rare they will look at every mobile device each of these 117 companies makes.
Instead, most consumers will pick from the top three companies that have differentiated their products most effectively: Samsung, Apple, and Huawei. The success of these three mobile device companies is evidenced by each holding the top three highest portions of the industry’s market share, respectively.
Differentiation is something Sara Blakely, the founder of the popular shapewear company Spanx, knows a lot about.
While Spanx performs the same function as a corset or a girdle — items of clothing people have worn for centuries — Blakely put a new, sexy spin on the product. With Spanx, Blakely made shapewear comfortable, easy to put on, and impossible to detect under even the slimmest of clothing. To top it off, she differentiated her product by branding it with a fun and memorable name.
Blakely’s ability to take an old-fashioned item of clothing and successfully differentiate it from all other shapewear helped propel her from a failing salesperson to a billionaire in just a manner of years. Blakely encourages would-be entrepreneurs to ask themselves the following questions as they start their businesses: “Why are you different? What’s important about you? Why does the customer need you?”
You Can Do It!
Just as with any other job, becoming self-employed requires its own set of entrepreneurial skills. Owning your own business calls for grit, determination, flexibility, and the willingness to make a business plan and brew the coffee. Starting a company is never easy, but if you see a bit of yourself in this list, you might just be ready to take the plunge.
Do You Have What It Takes?
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Everybody loves a sale. There’s nothing quite like browsing reduced items in the hopes of finding a great deal. You know this, and your customers know it too. The question is: how can you create an effective sale and make sure it brings both new and loyal customers to your business?
If your store runs on WooCommerce, your job will be that much easier. This handy e-commerce plugin enables you to create a variety of different types of sales, without much hassle. However, you’ll still need to prepare and plan your sale carefully to make sure it becomes a success for both you and your customers.
In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of running a sale on your WooCommerce store. We’ll talk about the different types of sales you can create, as well as how you can promote and augment them. Let’s get started!
Why It’s Smart to Run Sales on Your WooCommerce Store
You’re probably already familiar with WooCommerce. After all, it’s the world’s most popular e-commerce solution and is used to power nearly a quarter of all online stores. There are many reasons for this, but one is that the WooCommerce plugin makes it incredibly easy to start and run an online store, regardless of your level of experience.
One crucial aspect of retail that WooCommerce handles particularly well is sales. Running a sale offers many benefits, not the least of which is that it helps drive more customers to your store. The fact is that customers love sales. A sale will also encourage people to buy more, and you can use it to attract both new customers and returning ones. For example, a sale can help sway users who may be hesitant to buy something at full price. Once they’ve made an initial purchase, you can follow up with more offers and information and turn them into regular customers.
Fortunately, WooCommerce makes it easy to run a large variety of promotions. Best of all, the e-commerce platform also enables you to track your data after the sale is over, which you can use to improve future promotions. We’ll look at that option in more detail later on, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We still need to talk about what to do before you start your first sale.
Related: A Comprehensive Introduction to WooCommerce
What You Need to Do Before You Launch Your WooCommerce Sale
To ensure your sale goes off without a hitch and is a worthwhile experience for everyone involved, you need to plan it out thoroughly. First and foremost, you’ll want to define the length of your sale and decide when it should be launched.
While it’s a great idea to run sales close to a big holiday or celebration, you shouldn’t restrict yourself to these times. Instead, aim to run several sales over the year, mixing up the duration of each discount. For example, you could run a flash sale that lasts for only a day or two, and later a week-long event.
When and how long you run your sale depends largely on the type of promotion you’re planning. That’s why it’s important to consider the purpose of your sale, such as which products you’ll include. For instance, the above-mentioned flash sales are great for clearing out excess stock, while an exclusive members-only promotion will help you build brand loyalty with existing customers.
You should also think about how you’ll promote your sale. This applies both off and on your website. It’s important to spread the word on social media and through ads but equally vital to make the sale visible on your site. Consider highlighting it on your homepage, along with what deals are included. You could even create a dedicated FAQ page with information about the deals, and an ‘On Sale’ page that features all included items.
If you’re using WooCommerce, the plugin even enables you to augment your sales through the use of extensions and other plugins. You could add a countdown timer to appeal to your customers’ Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), for instance, or create coupons that can be used to get special discounts.
Related: 5 Amazing WooCommerce Themes to Increase Sales on Your Website
How to Run a Successful Sale on Your WooCommerce Website (8 Types of Promotions)
Now that you know how to prepare for your upcoming sale, let’s talk specifics. We’re going to look at eight types of promotions you can run using WooCommerce. You should be able to find at least one option on this list that suits your store’s particular needs (and hopefully more!). Let’s start at the top.
1. Standard Product Discounts
A discount is the classic promotion. In short, this is when you specify a temporarily lower price for one or more products. When you do this in WooCommerce, the regular price will usually appear crossed out with the sale price next to it.
We say usually because the exact appearance may differ depending on your chosen WooCommerce theme. However, the basic functionality remains the same. When you’re editing a product, you can use the Sale price field in the General tab to set the new price without affecting the old one.
You can also schedule a sale to specify when you want the new price to be active. This lets you choose both start and end dates.
With this feature, you can easily apply your discounts in advance and even promote your sale ahead of time. This works particularly well for holiday-based sales.
If you want to apply a discount to an entire category of products, you can do so quickly using a plugin, such as Woo Product Category Discount.
This plugin enables you to set a percentage or fixed sale price to a specific category or tag. This can save you a lot of time, especially if you have a large e-commerce store with hundreds or even thousands of products.
2. Coupon Codes
Coupon codes are another classic marketing tool for enticing potential customers. In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, this is a short code that a customer can enter during the checkout process to get additional offers or discounts on their order.
This is a straightforward and rewarding technique, which makes the benefit to the customer very clear. Most coupon codes will apply a percentage discount on a customer’s entire order or a specific item (excluding taxes and shipping) and will usually not be combinable with other offers.
WooCommerce includes a lot of coupon management features by default. You can access them by navigating to WooCommerce > Coupons.
When you add a new coupon, you can specify the code customers will use to apply the deal. You can also configure the discount the coupon will apply. This can be a fixed or a percentage reduction.
Perhaps the most important settings are the usage restrictions and limits, which determine how and when the coupon will be valid.
You should make sure to look over these options carefully; you don’t want your coupon offer to have any exploitable loopholes.
When your coupon is ready, you can give it out to your users. How you distribute the code will depend on its purpose. A coupon code could be part of a bigger marketing campaign, or it could be intended only for specific customers. As we mentioned earlier, you need to consider your sale’s aim carefully before starting as this will let you know who the recipients of your coupon code should be.
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3. Free Shipping
Did you know that free shipping is the single most important incentive for online customers? It’s not hard to see why. Shipping costs can inflate an order’s final price considerably, especially if the customer is located far away from where your store is based. The allure of free (or even just reduced) shipping can therefore be a powerful motivator, convincing them to complete their purchase.
WooCommerce enables you to create a free shipping offer in a few different ways. First, you can use the coupon code method we described earlier to apply free shipping.
Alternatively, you can also set Free Shipping as an available option for a particular shipping zone.
Both methods give you a lot of freedom in deciding how the free shipping works and who can use it. For example, you could offer free shipping on all orders over a certain amount for a limited time, create a dedicated coupon that you distribute to particular customers, or spread the word via your social media channels. Either way, your customers will be sure to appreciate it.
4. ‘Product of the Day’ Discounts
As we’ve mentioned, sales are a perfect way to highlight specific products. You can even take this a step further and place the spotlight on one particular item.
You can create this type of offer with the Products of the Day extension. This tool enables you to specify one or more products for a given day, which will be highlighted on your e-commerce site using a widget.
By default, this is simply a way to encourage the sale of particular products. However, you can sweeten the deal by also applying a discount to each daily item. For example, you can schedule a sale price for a product (which we covered earlier), and then add it to this widget.
Not only will this technique increase the visibility of the promoted products, but it also gives your users a reason to check your site regularly to see which products will be on sale each day.
5. Exclusive Members-Only Sales
A sale is not just useful for bringing in new customers. You can also use it to reward your existing users and members. Offering exclusive offers can significantly increase customer loyalty, which can, in turn, lead to improved word-of-mouth exposure.
When it comes to WooCommerce, you have a number of options for this type of campaign. For example, you can create coupon codes that you can quickly distribute to select users, such as through an email newsletter.
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To ensure that this code can’t be leaked or used by non-members, you can even specify the exact email addresses that can use the coupon.
You can also use the WooCommerce Memberships extension, which lets you set discounts based on different membership tiers.
This extension provides plenty of features relating to sales, such as member-exclusive offers. You can also create discounted prices, free shipping, and even ’buy one, get one free’ promotions.
6. ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ Deals
A ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ (BOGOF) deal is, as it sounds, an offer where the customer gets one item for free when they purchase another. This could be used in many ways. You can simply offer two of the same item for the price of one, or include a different product as an extra when a customer purchases something complimentary.
You could also specify different quantities, such as ‘buy three, get one half price.’ All you need is the right extension, which in this case would be Dynamic Pricing.
As the name aptly suggests, this extension enables you to set dynamic prices for your products by specifying specific criteria. You can determine the number of items that will make the BOGOF offer valid, for instance. The discount will then be applied automatically when the user adds the right items to their cart.
As with most promotions, the key to making this one work is to ensure that your users are aware of the deal and the specific criteria required. For that reason, it’s best to feature it prominently on your home page, and on individual product pages where applicable.
7. Discounts For Future Purchases
We’ve already discussed the benefits of rewarding existing customers to build brand loyalty. Another smart way of doing that is by offering discounts that a customer can use on their next purchase.
There are a few ways to do this in WooCommerce. The simplest is to create a coupon code that you distribute to your customers, which we’ve already walked you through. The Follow Ups extension makes this method even easier, as it lets you automatically email customers with a notification about the coupon code.
You can also set up a rewards system that gives customers ‘points’ when they make a purchase. They can then use these points on later orders to get a discount that’s relative the amount they’ve earned. The Points and Rewards extension makes it easy to add such a system to your store.
To make the deal even sweeter, you can offer double points during specific periods. This will further incentivize your repeat customers to complete more orders and can be used to increase sales during times when your store is usually quiet.
Related: The 10 Most Popular Online Payment Gateways for Your Website, Compared
8. Minimum Order Amount Discounts
This last technique is a cousin to the BOGOF deal we mentioned earlier. A minimum order discount is a promotion that’s applied automatically when the total value of the customer’s cart exceeds a set amount.
For example, you could offer a 20 percent discount on all orders above $100. If a customer’s cart total were $112, the discount would bring the order amount down to $89.60 — an attractive deal.
We recommend that you use Discount Rules for WooCommerce to put this strategy into action. This plugin lets you specify the exact criteria that must be met before a discount is applied.
This tool also makes it easy for you to manage the discount and lets you change or remove it any time. Plus, it includes several other helpful sales-related features, such as BOGOF and dynamic pricing.
What to Do After Your Sale Ends
You might think that once a sale is over, all that’s left to do is count the money you’ve earned and prepare for the next promotion. However, this is far from the ideal way of approaching your sales strategy. If you don’t take the time to analyze the results of your sales campaigns, you won’t be able to optimize future offers to get even better results.
To do this in WooCommerce, we recommend that you purchase the Google Analytics extension. This will provide you with detailed information about your users’ behavior and purchasing habits. While there’s a lot to consider after a sale is over, these are the most important results you should pay attention to:
Interest and usage. How many users showed interest in your sale versus how many actually completed a purchase? This shows you whether you need to work harder next time to close the deal.
Time and duration. You’ll also want to consider if the timing of your sales could be improved. To do that, you can compare the latest promotion’s results against similar deals that have run at different times of the year.
Sale frequency. If you see a steady drop in conversions for each promotion, it might be worth your while to make sales less frequent. If users know another sale is just around the corner, they’re less likely to buy during this one.
Take all of these factors into account, and you’ll be more informed and prepared when it’s time for the next sale!
Running a sale on your online shop can be both profitable and enjoyable. All you need is a flexible e-commerce plugin and a little preparation to make sure you launch your campaign at the right time and with the perfect offer.
Do you have any questions about how to run an effective sale for your business using WooCommerce? Join the DreamHost community and start the conversation!