Four Hours To Sharpen The Axe

Abraham Lincoln once said, "If you give me six hours to chop down a tree, I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." Lincoln, known for never rushing into much of anything, was onto something. Preparedness.

We emphasize to clients that the best way to be prepared is to be self-aware. Know what you know and know what you still need to learn. (We say this a lot!) It is sound, albeit old-fashioned, advice. We know. It is an attitude largely ignored in today's fast-paced digital business world, unfortunately, but that's not stopping us from spreading the message.

With millions of underprepared entrepreneurs in mind, we have crafted an extensive list of 88 questions for new and aspiring digital business owners to go through. The magnitude of the list itself is meant to be a not-so-subtle reminder that you should not dive into any business casually. It is time to get serious!

Here we go - in no particular order!

1. What will be your niche or product category?
2. What kind of research have you done about that niche?
3. How many competitors already exist in your particular market?
4. What do those competitors do exceptionally well?
5. What are their weaknesses?
6. How will you differentiate your business?
7. How many products will you offer?
8. Where will those products come from?
9. Will you have any issues with supply or quality?
10. What makes your products superior to the competitors?
11. What is your pricing strategy?
12. What will you charge customers for shipping?
13. What do your competitors charge for shipping?
14. What shipping carriers will you use?
15. What will shipping costs be?
16. Will you sell your products internationally?
17. What platform is the best choice for your store?
18. How will your new store be designed?
19. Is there any custom design or development work needed?
20. Which social media channels should you focus on?
21. How much thought have you given to user experience?
22. How do you build an audience on social media?
23. What is your plan for developing original content?
24. How often should you write blog posts?
25. How do you build an audience for your blog?
26. Should you have custom landing pages on your site?
27. How will you distribute your original content?
28. Should video be part of your content strategy?
29. How does your content strategy affect your site's SEO?
30. Do you need to hire someone to help with SEO?
31. Should you learn the basics of SEO?
32. Why are product descriptions so important?
33. Why are product images so important?
34. Does your navigation improve the shopping experience?
35. What payment options should you accept?
36. How will you deliver amazing customer service?
37. How will you counter shopping cart abandonment?
38. Do your competitors have cart abandonment strategies in place?
39. Should you offer an online chat option?
40. How much of your traffic is using a mobile device?
41. Is your webstore responsively designed?
42. What will your return policy be?
43. What type of return policy do your competitors use?
44. What's the best way to capture email addresses?
45. Is MailChimp your best choice for email marketing?
46. Can you do all of your own email marketing in-house?
47. How does email aid your content distribution?
48. Is A/B testing with email campaigns important?
49. How do you measure the effectiveness of your emails?
50. Should you spend money on Google Adwords?
51. How much should you budget for ad campaigns?
52. Should you hire a pay-per-click expert?
53. How will you measure the effectiveness of your ads?
54. Do you know the basics of Google Analytics?
55. Should you consider Google Shopping?
56. Is your product data organized properly to even use Google Shopping?
57. Do you really know what good product data looks like?
58. Should you consider selling on eBay or Amazon?
59. Will you handle your own fulfillment?
60. Will you realize cost savings using FBA or another third party?
61. Is ShipStation the right choice for fulfillment software?
62. Are your orders being processed quickly enough?
63. Do you have opportunities to upsell your customers?
64. What percentage of your traffic is return visitors?
65. What is your bounce rate?
66. What can you do to improve your bounce rate?
67. Do you even know what a bounce rate is?
68. What sort of value are you delivering to first time visitors?
69. Are you using tracking pixels to tag visitors?
70. How long are visitors shopping your store?
71. Do you have a remarketing plan?
72. Do you even know what remarketing is?
73. Where do you want the business to be in a month?
74. Where do you want the business to be in a year?
75. What skills are you lacking?
76. Do you need to better define your brand?
77. Do you need to revisit your marketing plan?
78. What free resources are you not taking advantage of?
79. Will third party help be worth the cost?
80. Is your webstore loading quickly enough?
81. Are your Google, Facebook, and marketplace reviews all positive?
82. Do you want to become a Google trusted store?
83. What is your conversion rate?
84. What does your conversion rate tell you about your webstore?
85. How often should you be adding new products?
86. Is it time to add a new product category?
87. What changes are on the horizon in your category or industry?
88. Are you setting goals, reaching them, and setting new ones?

If you made it to the bitter end, we thank you. Could we have made the list even longer? Absolutely. Did we make our point? We like to think so. Be self aware. Be prepared. Be thorough. Be ready to work your butt off. Now refill that coffee and get back at it!

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