Going Pro

At a recent party, I had an interesting conversation with some party-goers about a friend of theirs who purchases items on deals and resells them for a profit.  One of the comments was that the party-goer had pushed his friend to make it a business, run a whole e-commerce store.  This was after a discussion about running an e-commerce store in Canada.  There are some major issues of course, for the friend to shift from an amateur (hobby / part-time) status to professional.

Scalability

It’s one thing to find a single deal on a website and make a good purchase.  It’s easy to do – in fact, we all do that when we shop sales.  Problem is, this isn’t scalable.  You need more than a single deal a single day (or two).  You need a consistent supply of deals (goods) and that requires a system.  Most retailers purchase from publishers or distributors; getting their “deals” this way, allowing them to find consistent product.  Other sites like Tanga and other deal sites constantly have to source new deals, altering the type of products they sell.

In either case, the need to develop a system that is scalable is paramount.

Paying the Rent

The next big hurdle from switching from an amateur (or hobby) to full-time is t he need to pay the rent and make sufficient margins to cover all your expenses.  This is a major hurdle for many; as there are a lot of activities that are viable on a small scale but are not viable when all the associated costs of actually running a business are added in.

Once again, we start looking at things like margins and profit and the need to cover fixed costs.  Game publishers probably have a similar problem – except with a longer lead time to actual revenue.

Consistency

Consistency is another issue that arises.  It’s one thing to manage a single customer e-mail a day / week.  It’s another to have to manage one every hour.  It’s not just customer service either, it’s logistics (purchasing & shipping), accounting, marketing, the whole shebang.  Making sure to keep doing the same thing, again and again every day with the same consistent level of service can be grueling at the best of times.

 The Jump

Making the jump from amateur to professional is hard.  In many ways, the first step is mental – it goes from ‘something I do once in a while’ to ‘something I do all the time’.    It goes from ‘I’ll deal with this later’ to ‘this has to get done now’.  Some people can’t make that jump, others try and fail.