The Ecommerce Formula 4-Core Aptitudes Diagram

I've had the honor of working with almost 1,400 Shopify site builders in the last 6 months, and I've come up with a working theory of e-commerce success. I believe it takes 4-Core team (or personal) Aptitudes to begin finding some success. I like using the baseball metaphor to explain it.

Last month I introduced my 4-Core concept in a super long blog post, (The E-commerce Formula - Mastering The Four Core Building Blocks Of Online Selling Success). To summarize it - I made a framework diagram I'd like to share. If you like it, share it with other people around the internet.

 

The Business Aptitude 

Your decision to sell products or services as a business venture starts the process. When you put on the entrepreneur uniform and gear up - you're in the game. You step up to the plate and begin looking at opportunities flying by - like baseballs. You begin seeing opportunities to make money everywhere you go - and in tons of different ways. You can take a swing at any one of them - or you can wait until you see one you really like. Stand there as long as you want. 

Warren Buffett & The No Called Strikes Rule: There is one "tweak" to our baseball game metaphor that is important to understand and Warren Buffett started talking about it many years ago. He describes the stock market as a "no-called-strikes-game". Meaning you can stand there at the plate as long as you want and just watch the pitches fly by. He goes on to say, 

"You don't have to swing at everything - you can wait for your pitch and that's exactly the philosophy I have about investing - for the right pitch and wait for the right deal."

As a side note, I like to share with people that although I am happily an e-commerce entrepreneur now, I watched from 1998 to 2008 as pitch after pitch flew by me - I watched for ten years - for a variety of reasons, then finally in 2008 I swung. 

One thing is abundantly clear - the better you are at sizing up business opportunities - and picking a good business to get into - the better your prospects as you begin your e-commerce journey. As Warren Buffett also said, "If you want to be known as a good businessman, be sure to get into a good business."

The Technical Aptitude

Your opportunity to sell online quickly becomes a contest of technical aptitude. Many would consider eBay the first large-scale online selling option available to non-coders. It was massively important to online selling because it made it possible to find scale-able success despite a lake of (very much) technical aptitude. But my mom could never sell on eBay - there is still some degree of technical skill necessary.

Of course - online selling options have blossomed in the last few years. Each requires some degree of technical aptitude, (some more than others). Amazon has become incredibly popular these days as an alternative to eBay.

But if you want to transcend to a higher level as a company, brand, and product seller, then you need to at least consider the idea of selling directly to the public on your own website. Of course, that is where Shopify enters the scene. In my opinion, it is the best platform for online sellers wanting to create their own e-commerce website.

The Product Aptitude

You can get "in the game" by selling almost anything on a marketplace like eBay or Amazon. But if you want to hit a double, triple, or homerun online, then you need a winning product strategy.

Product decision mastery is not a complicated process, like swinging a baseball bat, a two-year-old can do it. But when you really want to master it, it becomes a science. 

Physical Vs. Digital: The internet allows us to quickly package and sell digital items in a way that was never possible before 1994. So your first choice is physical versus digital items.

There are a million and one ways to create a product strategy. A few of the most important question include,

 

  • Is there strong customer demand?
  • Is the cost-of-goods low enough relative to the sale price to allow for a solid profit margin?
  • Can you source it easily? 
  • Can you create a brand and attract loyal customers to repurchase from you?
  • Is there competition destroying your pricing power?

The Motivational Aptitude

If you step up to the plate and hit a pitch, then get on first base, keep going and round second, and you want to pass 3rd base and score a financial home run, then you've got to go beyond the product strategy and tap into your emotional strength to solve problems, overcome obstacles, and scale your business to an exciting level. I believe that's only possible when you tap into your deep motivation - find the will to win - and work to make it happen.

There is a story that Bill Gates & Warren Buffett were both asked a simple question - and asked to write down their answer on a piece of paper - and then reveal their answer at the same time. The question, 

"What character trait allowed you to succeed to the level you have?" 

The answer they both revealed at the same time: Focus. There are plenty of people who can sell online. Plenty of people that will find a product that "works". But few people round third base and truly hit a home run online. Those that do - have a focus that is critical to their success. 

Determination is the second motivational aptitude that I believe separates the home run hitters. Eugene Peterson's book, "A Long Obedience In The Same Direction" describes the trait very well. Some things take time - and the determination to keep working on the business, technical, and product problems involved in an e-commerce business.

Conclusion

E-commerce is an amazing game. I hope this simple diagram and baseball metaphor helps you push toward your next accomplishment. Do me a favor and share this article on social media if you enjoy it. 

Jason Miles