E-Commerce Entrepreneurship: Expectations vs. Reality

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Running an e-commerce business is a huge undertaking. You’re not only going to use your business smarts, but you also need to think on your feet when it comes to solutions that will benefit both you and your customer. The customers of this day and age are so different from what it was just a decade ago.

Today, customers are more informed, have shorter attention spans and patience, and generally expect a lot more than what businesses had to handle before the boom of tech and the internet.  E-commerce entrepreneurs must know this before making the jump into online selling.

There are a lot of unscrupulous “internet marketers” who will tell anyone with fa computer that e-commerce is a get-rich-quick business. Anybody who’s had success in e-commerce and has managed to run businesses online for several years knows that, just like any business, success in e-commerce requires hard work!

To break the daydreams and give you a more realistic look into what it takes to succeed in e-commerce, here’s a list of some expectations starry-eyed budding entrepreneurs may have.

It’s a walk in the park

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Expectation: You’ll have all the time in the world because you only have to work several hours a day! It’s basically early retirement!

Reality: Successful e-commerce entrepreneurs who work less than 10 hours each week didn’t get to that position overnight. Many of them used to hold e-commerce or online marketing positions in established companies or have toiled several years, leaning throughout the way.

They can reduce their working hours drastically, not because e-commerce requires just a fraction of a typical workweek to achieve success. They’ve arrived at this ideal working situation by continuously examining their processes and learning what can be automated and what can be outsourced.

For example, many e-commerce entrepreneurs who fail to optimize their daily operations still spend a lot of time handling returns while an e-commerce expert will use a platform for reverse logistics to automate this function.

It pays well with little work

Expectation: You’ll be able to replace your day job salary in a month or two.

Reality: This expectation is so inflated and unfortunately widespread that you’ll see a lot of people getting into e-commerce and buying cars and stuff they can’t afford anticipating a financial windfall ahead. Get this: E-commerce is tough! It’s as ruthless as any other business can be.

There’s no golden bullet that can kill all your financial difficulties. Some may hit the jackpot with a winning product right off the bat, but that’s more the exception than the rule.

Be wise and don’t jump into full-time entrepreneurship without establishing a small emergency fund to help sustain your personal and operating expenses. Also, know what you’re able to handle. Don’t look at things with rose-colored glasses now and then cry your eyes out in the future because you missed seeing the actual work needed and spent your time imagining success instead.


Running an e-commerce business is a viable way to earn a living and maybe even build wealth. However, it’s far from being a turn-key solution for those who want to quit work. It takes a lot of learning, trial and error, as well as persistence to continuously maintain and grow a successful e-commerce business. Good luck!

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