There is no better teacher in life than experience.
People can tell us something over and over, but there’s no substitute for actually doing it.
Sometimes this results in frustration or failure. Other times you might overcome adversity and succeed.
Whatever the outcome, you always come out the other side having learned an important lesson.
This principle is something that can be applied to all areas of life, including business.
When I started using Shopify for my dropshipping business several years ago, I thought I knew a lot about eCommerce.
Don’t get me wrong, all of those sources of information were helpful.
But now that I have years of experience, I realise how little I knew when I started and how much I’ve learned since.
So while this might seem a little counterintuitive (telling you something that’s best learned through experience), I wanted to share what I wish I knew when I started dropshipping with Shopify.
Hopefully you can learn something from my experiences that will help you have more success with your dropshipping business.
When you start learning about dropshipping, you’ll often hear and read about how simple it is.
All you have to do is find a great product, a reliable supplier, and choose a selling platform to start making money.
There is some truth in that. Dropshipping is a lot simpler than traditional retail business models.
But let me get this straight: It’s not as simple as it sounds!
You’re not going to launch your Shopify store and then sit back and watch the money start rolling in from day one.
The thing is, the concepts are simple, but executing them well is not. And in business, execution is everything.
Everyone can succeed with dropshipping on Shopify, but not everyone will succeed.
Go into it with realistic expectations and be prepared to put in hard work and you’ll have a much better chance of succeeding.
When I started my dropshipping business, Facebook ads were relatively new.
I had read about them, but didn’t really know how they worked.
Despite my lack of expertise, I buried thousands of dollars in Facebook ads that never paid off.
Unless you’re a Facebook ads whizz, I would avoid them when you’re starting out.
This is especially true in 2020 when Facebook’s algorithm restricts the reach of businesses.
If you know a lot about Facebook ads, then by all means use them. I’ve just found them to be successful than other marketing tactics.
The strategy that worked best for me in the early days was posting high-quality photos on Instagram and paying small amounts for shoutouts from influencers.
You don’t have to do the same. The lesson here is to play to your strengths. Find what works best for you and the products/niche you’re in and invest in that.
Data is your best friend in business, especially when you’re starting out.
I wish I had paid more attention to data and run more tests to refine my Shopify store.
When you first launch a store, it will be far from perfect - and that’s ok!
You need to test different web copy, sales copy, fonts, colours, product photos, keywords etc to continually improve the performance of your online store.
You can copy other stores, or use them for inspiration, or come up with a unique formula that works for you.
Testing and tweaking your store will ensure your store is always improving.
Even when you find a sweet spot and sales are rolling in, there will always be areas that you can seek to enhance. Testing will help you to identify the areas that need work.
I really wish I knew this when I started.
Have you ever stayed up late at night dreaming of great products to sell?
You think you’re onto something that’s going to make you a heap of money, but it doesn’t actually sell that well.
I’ve learned that the products you think are going to sell the best, often don’t sell at all.
Why? It’s because you can’t just think a product is going to sell, you need to know that it’s going to sell. There’s a big difference.
You need to let go of your biases and preconceived ideas and trust the market research and data to identify great products for you.
Often the most crazy product ideas that you’d never “think” of organically are the ones that will make you the most money.
That’s because the products that we think of are usually influenced by trends we observe, our own interests, and items that we see others selling.
These things can cloud your judgement. You’re much better off putting in a lot of market research to validate your product ideas, rather than trusting your intuition.
You can use a tool like SaleHoo Labs to help with this process (I wish this was available when I started!).
What you see and hear about dropshipping online often makes success seem random and magical.
The Youtube videos in which dropshippers talk about making thousands of dollars a month in their sleep can give you unrealistic expectations.
No successful dropshipping business happened by chance. Behind every one of those success stories are tried and tested strategies.
I wish I had cared less about frontend factors, such as my website design, and put more effort into developing a powerful strategy when I started.
A well-designed website is important, but it is nothing without a solid business strategy that brings in leads, converts customers, and makes sales.
You can get to a point in your dropshipping business journey when you think you know it all.
If you ever get to that point, you’re wrong. There’s always more to be learned, especially with the speed at which technology is advancing.
The online tools, apps, and marketing strategies that are successful today could be redundant in six months time.
It’s important to always be learning. Seek out the best mentors. Follow the best Youtube channels. Sign up to mailing lists. Read books and blogs. Go to industry events and learn from the guest speakers. Connect with others who run dropshipping businesses. Find people who add value to you and your business, and share your knowledge with them.
The more you learn, the more you can apply to your business.
At the end of the day, running a dropshipping business on Shopify is no get rich quick scheme.
It’s a business just like any other business.
While there are some advantages to dropshipping, you still need to develop and test strategies that will set you up for success.
You will no doubt learn a lot of these lessons through experience, but I hope that I have helped you to avoid some of the mistakes I made when I first started dropshipping.
What do you wish you knew when you started dropshipping? Let us know in the comments below.