Thank you for being honest about it - I wish more ecommerce business owners would be open about the fact that running an online business is hard work, and money doesn't come "fast and easy" as the FB "gurus" want you to think.
You touched on a very good point here - research. If you didn't do product research, competitor research or market research, running a business then feels like throwing a paste onto the wall and seeing what sticks.
Yes, hustling is important, but you also need to be sure you spend the time productively, i.e. on the tasks that give results.
I recommend pausing any ads for now [you probably already did at this point], and spend the next 7 days on the research - and I don't mean buy "winning products formula" course or wholesalers list.
Spend this time deciding on a niche you'd like to work in - something you have a knowledge of and are passionate about. You'd want to have passion for your business, otherwise when the tough times come you won't have enough fire to keep going. See why the specific niche is more profitable than a general niche: https://youtu.be/sayTnDksQx0
Once you find a niche, then decide on a target customer - create a perfect buyer persona. See how: https://www.rockpapercopy.com/customer-research/
Having one target customer type will give you more clarity as to where to promote your business to find them, which will save you money and time in the long run and help you drive more relevant traffic, improving your conversion rate.
Once that's done, make sure to run competitor research - find at least three closest competitors selling in the same niche and targeting the same audience. See what they are offering, and how you can improve on it profitably. You can also copy their marketing strategy to get some momentum.
When it comes to the timeline, I'd say it would be fair to expect to be profitable within the first year, however it depends on your overheads and the initial investment.
I've launched four online businesses [2 successful, 2 not so much], so if you'd like to chat and get some free tips, feel free to book a free 15-minute chat below:
Shopify Partner | Ecommerce expert
If you found these tips useful, please leave a 5* review on my TrustPilot profile. Thank you!
Running an online business can give you a lot of sleepless nights in the beginning - while it's rewarding, as you can call yourself your own boss, it's not all roses and honey. I honestly don't think you MUST pay for data - lots of research papers are free to access if you have the time to do it and analyze the results.
Absolutely, having a timeline and a detailed plan of action will definitely help. You don't want to keep waking up each morning thinking you have to do 100s of different things that day - having a plan will allow you to focus on one thing, and once that's done, move onto the next without feeling overwhelmed or risking a burnout [I've went through two burnouts, so that's a real danger].
Hope it helps,