10 Dos and Don'ts for Online Retail Startups
4. Seek deals. This means more than working out the best deals with your suppliers — although you should be doing that too, Neblett said. For example, Neblett said that he and his wife, also a co-founder of Etailz.com, would shop for computer equipment for the upstart company on Black Friday amongst the masses to get the best deals possible, saving up to 30 percent to 40 percent.
5. Be agile and wear heavy armor. You don't know what you don't know, Neblett said, noting that startup companies must not be tied to a single idea. Go where the opportunity is, he said. You're going to face competition along the way, but you need to defend yourself.
What Not to Do
6. Don't lose the bootstrapper mentality. Even if your company is successful and growing, don't forget the strategies that got you to that point, Neblett said. For example, continue to test and experiment ways to improve your business (e.g., new products, sales channels, technologies, etc.). However, if you fail, fail quickly and move on.
7. Don't fear the big boys. You have to be aware and somewhat paranoid of what the Amazon and Costco's of the world are doing, but you can't be fearful of them, Neblett said.
8. Don't overspend on customer acquisition. The lifetime value of your customers needs to measure up against what you're paying to get them, Neblett said. He cited companies that have worked with coupon sites such as Groupon failing because they've given up too much margin for customer acquisition — and in most cases, a one-time-only customer.
9. Don't focus on where you're going to be in five years. You need to be aware and have a plan, but it shouldn't be your immediate focus, Neblett said. The vast majority of startups don't have the capital to fall back on, so for them no time is more important than the present.