What does it take for YOU to start your own business?

We spend a lot of our time handing out advice to people thinking about starting out in online selling about where to source goods as an online retailer, where to sell, who to use as a supplier etc. (if you want a basics for online selling guide download your eBook here). But, outside of the practicalities of the eCommerce industry - one of the success factors that is only really discussed face to face or at our events (because it’s rarely ever asked as a top question!) is – What do I personally need to change to start my own business?


Last year I had a friend, who is on an extremely good salary who was able to work from home 2-3 days a week, and she suddenly announced that she was fed up of working for someone else, and she wanted to have an idea so she could start her own business and stop answering to someone and do what she wanted. I leapt (maybe a bit too aggressively) in fear for her that if that was her goal – starting her own business would DEFINITELY NOT make it happen. As many members of the forum know, running your own business definitely does not mean you are less answerable, it means rather than having one boss, you have hundreds – your customers, and it is they who decide if you get paid at the end of the month or not. If you become a larger company, you usually have a board, or investors, and staff – and this means you answer to them. And if you’re not a psychopath then you have a constant knowledge that not only are you now responsible for yourself being paid, now if you fail, other people won’t be.


This is not to say running your own business doesn’t have its upsides, and can be immense fun so long as you are ready for it. So what do you NEED to know to be successful?


Grit (Perseverance for a long period of time)

Angela Duckworth, the author of Grit: The Power of passion and Perseverance – they ran a study asked of teachers, students and salespeople who was going to stay in the job being effective, and who (in the latter) was going to graduate and who would earn the most money. They tested IQ, physical and personality traits and found the biggest predictor was grit, in her words “having stamina… sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.” A repeated theme at events that we run is people asking how they can make a significant amount of money within a year and the answer given, whether by us or our panel (who have usually been in eCommerce for years and are often very successful at it is, “it will take much longer than that, but if you stick with it, you can make it work” (watch Angela Duckworth’s Ted Talk here)


Research and Hard Work

We don’t mean being educated in excel, having your head stuck in a book, or reading entrepreneurial quotes as a full time job. We mean finding the best way to execute what it is you want to achieve by looking intelligently at all the options – trying and learning from results, asking for advice when you need to from successful peers. This is why The Wholesale Forums exists, so people can ask each other questions, and it never ceases to surprise me how many people want to help! However, more in real life when we’re at shows, the most frustrating conversations can be when you give people places to visit to look up for example ‘Clothing Wholesalers’ and recommend the ones you know well, and then they say ‘so will you ring them for me?’ – as much as I admire their delegation, there is absolutely no way I would know enough about the specifics of their business and ideas to do this effectively for them.


As Webretailer reported in their interview with Neil Waterhouse, author of ‘Million Dollar eBay Business from Home’ when discussing the need to learn from doing.


“The only way to learn eBay business, is to get your hands dirty. You’ve got to do all the hard stuff yourself, before you can outsource it. You’ve got to pack products, you’ve got to answer emails. Do it all yourself and get your hands dirty, then you can find all the ways to automate it and outsource it all.”



Sonia Thompson of CEO of Thompson Media Group reported in Inc.com that she had interviewed 147 highly successful entrepreneurs to find out what made them successful and one of the key themes was “Do the Work”, she reported a key theme was to do the work – with consistency. “Conscious Millionaire author JV Crum III, who's built several multi-million dollar businesses, was clear that the action you take needs to be constant and focused. Steph Gaudreau of Stupid Easy Paleo told me she spent years with her head down, creating a large body of content and showing up everyday to connect with and build her following on social media. Jessica Blanchard, a holistic yoga practitioner and founder of Stop Feeling Crappy, that means working daily on her craft to improve her core skills”.


You wouldn’t expect to have a healthy body if you didn’t consistently eat healthy more often than you didn’t, you wouldn’t expect to run a marathon unless you’d been consistently training your legs to run for months – so why would you expect to suddenly have a successful business unless you work on it daily.


Fun and Passion

I can’t stress enough that there will be ups and downs in any business, there are uncontrollable factors, and market conditions to fight against. Some days will be amazing, and some will be awful. In the UK 60% of new businesses go-under within 3 years and there is no point going through that worry and stress if you don’t like the life of an entrepreneur, more than you want to work a 9-5 and part of that enjoyment will be passion for what you’ve chosen to do. And as Lauryn Evarts of the hugely successful Skinny Confidential says in her blog on the good, bad and nasty of being an entrepreneur – one of the biggest plus points for starting your own business “Creativity, creativity, creativity…you create WTH you want to create. Your biz, your ideas.”


We really hope if you are looking at starting out selling online (or any business) you read the above and think ‘I can do that!’ and take the leap and do it! There are thousands of entrepreneurs making over £1 million a year trading on eBay and many of these started in someone’s living room with a spark of an idea and we’re sure that with a bit of luck and the above in mind anyone can join their ranks.



Helen Parker is the Director of The Wholesale Forums
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