I'm brand new to this discussion group - and wondered if I coud possibly get some advise... I started my own website - www.littlefan.com a few months ago. My timing couldn't have been worse! We are an pure play internet e-tail startup selling sports fan apparel and gifts for children, which is a pretty neat niche market without a whole bunch of competition right now. The idea was to start a biz (get incorporated, find dealers, buy stock, create website, etc.) on a shoestring budget and then write a killer business plan - which we did.
Being a pure play B to C e-tailer, we initially got some serious interest from Angel and VC investors - even got into some pretty good discussions with some of them (what % of company for how much $).... But as I'm sure everyone knows, things have gone steadily downhill for pure play e-tailers since March... and we no longer attract much attention from investors....
So... we're a bootstrap company now. The problem is, who wants to buy from an amateurish looking website they’ve never heard from? We now find ourselves in the classic e-tail position – we can’t afford to drive enough traffic to our site to become profitable. We’re getting some orders, and some rave reviews from happy customers – but we just can’t put enough eyeballs on our site… and then to compound the problem our site doesn’t look too professional (I created it with FrontPage and not a whole lot of experience!), so our conversion rates aren’t as high as we’d like them.
All in all I’d say bootstrapping has been (& still is!) pretty tough for us. We submitted to as many search engines as we could think of months ago – and are just now starting to get decent traffic from them…. But without some decent investment capital, we’ll be stuck here… with a none-to-professional-looking site, and no $ for a serious site and advertising -we're just covering costs.
So I'm looking for suggestions! My website is [littlefan.com....] What should I concentrate on? Revising my business plan to include physical stores (e.g. "bricks & clicks" model), borrow more $ to advertise (or is it dumb to advertise an amateurish site), borrow money for a real web developer? Are they're some simple low cost things I can do to my site to improve it? How about driving traffic to my site? Any help/advise would be GREATLY appreciated!