Starting an e-commerce business has a very low barrier to entry—all you need are products to sell and an e-commerce platform like Shopify or Magento. In addition, there’s plenty of room for small businesses to expand in e-commerce. According to Statista, annual U.S. e-commerce revenue is projected to nearly double between 2017 and 2025, from $285 million to $563 million.
But there’s also a downside to starting your own e-commerce business: the high risk of failure. A survey by the digital marketing agency MarketingSignals.com found that 90 percent of e-commerce startups close their doors within four months. The most common reasons for e-commerce startup failure include poor marketing campaigns, lack of visibility, and little demand for the company’s products.
The good news is that you can beat the odds and significantly improve your chances of success by working with an ecommerce startup mentor. If you’re looking for an ecommerce mentor for your startup, this article will go over everything you need to know.
What does a startup mentor do?
Startup mentors are people with previous experience in the world of entrepreneurship who can help guide newer businesses down the right path. Mentors are not employees and typically do this work pro bono, without any expected compensation.
You can find mentors via your personal network, at startup events and accelerators, or through various mentoring programs for startup founders. Business mentors can help with a wide variety of activities: making connections in your choice of industry, motivating you to turn ideas into action, or even offering advice on breaking into a certain geographical region (e.g. starting up in Latin America).
Since many e-commerce startups fail due to the wrong marketing strategy, startup mentors can help you refine your email marketing, social media marketing, SEO, and other techniques. Startup mentors can also assist with pitch practice during your funding rounds. Mentors can help you distill your business idea into clear, streamlined language, so that potential investors understand why they should fund your startup.
Do I need a mentor for ecommerce?
Given the high risk of starting an e-commerce business, it’s hard to overstate the importance of having a mentor for ecommerce businesses. The advantages of ecommerce startup mentoring include:
- Getting valuable advice: E-commerce mentors have been in your shoes before, and can help answer questions or give their opinion on important business decisions. While you don’t have to listen to everything they say, mentors can serve as a sounding board for your issues and ideas, and steer you away from paths that could waste time and money.
- More creative brainstorming: The field of e-commerce requires a good deal of creative thinking: developing a unique product, building memorable marketing campaigns, etc. E-commerce startup mentors can help you brainstorm new ideas, or they can serve as a second pair of eyes, giving a fresh perspective on your concepts and sketches.
- Greater accountability: Startup founders are at the top of their business, which means there’s no one else to tell you what to do. If you struggle with meeting your goals and timelines, working with a mentor can help hold you accountable.
Who is the best mentor for ecommerce?
There are a number of benefits to ecommerce startup mentoring—so what are some tips for how to find the right mentor?
The best mentors for e-commerce are business owners who have run their own successful ecommerce stores. If you’re wondering “Where could we get good mentors?”, there are a number of places to find a good startup advisor, including:
- Personal network: Ideally, you might already know someone who would be a good e-commerce mentor. This person could be a family member, friend, or former colleague or classmate who has found e-commerce startup success.
- Startup community: Meetups, conferences, and accelerator programs are good places to find potential e-commerce mentors. For example, Founders Network runs the eCommerce Founders Initiative, which connects hundreds of e-commerce startup founders with each other.
- Social media: Platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter are excellent for professional networking, and can help you cultivate relationships with business leaders who might be a good mentor.