How To Start An Online Business

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Starting your own business, online or offline, is both exciting and scary, but when you have a strategic plan and the success mindset you need, it can be the best decision you’ll ever make. In this blog post, I will give you what you need to know to make decisions about what business to start, what niche you’ll be in, who your target market will be, and the mindset you need to have to ensure your success.

How to Get In The Right Mindset

You think you want to start an online business and you see a lot of people online (maybe on Facebook or Instagram) making a lot of money and you think “If he/she can do this, so can I!!” After all, you’ve graduated from college, been successful in your corporate career, and you know your way around a computer keyboard. Well, those things are all a great start, but I’m here to tell you that your college degree and your successful run in corporate America have very little to do with what you’re about to take on in the online business world. I have a Masters Degree in Information Science and had a 20+ year technology career and I discovered that means nothing when it comes to being successful online.

Sure, your previous skills all come into play when you figure out what you’ll be promoting online, but in order to be truly successful from the beginning, you absolutely must start with BELIEF. You’ve got to believe in yourself and the fact that you WILL be successful, because you will run into obstacles along the way and it’s this belief that will carry you through.

You know, you do need mentors, but in the end, you really just need to believe in yourself. ~ Diana Ross

You also need to believe in the product or service that you decide to sell. If you’re not passionate about it, it will be hard to persuade anyone else to want to buy it.

I once heard a speaker at a mastermind event, that I went to, sum it up this way. He said that in order to be an unstoppable entrepreneur, you need to do 4 things:

  1. You need to take 100% ownership of your business
  2. You need to GET HUNGRY – you need the desire for adventure and growth. You need to get joy and fulfillment from creation, you need to love serving others, and the desire to achieve your own personal dreams. What will success and wealth mean to your family? Who will you become in the process? What dreams can you fulfill for yourself and others?
  3. Have a “champion mindset”. Success is 90% mindset and 10% skill set. Let the negativity go and go on a “Positivity diet”. You will never hear the most successful people complaining about their environment or blame anyone else for their failures or lack of success.
  4. Skill mastery – Your best investment is you and there are 2 types of skills to learn: a) problem solving skills & b) money making skills. Spend 20% of your time defining the problem & 80% solving it. Problem solving questions to ask yourself are 1) What are the opportunities in the problem? 2) How does this problem serve you? 3) What can you do to solve this problem? 4) What can you read & learn to solve this problem? 5) Who can you ask for help to find a solution? 6) Who else has solved this & how? 7) What 100 solutions can I brainstorm? Money making skills to master are 1) pick one skill to master in 90 days, 2) in those 90 days, read 3 books, take 2 courses, & attend 1 event, 3) spend an hour a day learning the skill, 4) implement the learned skills immediately.

Another, very effective and powerful, way to get into the right mindset is to sit down and really think about what your life will look like when you’re a successful online marketer. What will your house look like? What will you do for fun? Where will you travel? Where would you eat? What will your relationship with your spouse/partner and/or your children & grandchildren look like? To help you figure out these things and a whole lot more about starting your own business or improving a struggling one., you may want to check out this course. I can tell you from personal experience that it is one of the best courses out there on the subject of how to start a business or improve a struggling one. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

How To Pick Your Niche For Your Online Business

The best place to start is to first think about what you’re passionate about. Maybe you have a hobby that you would love to monetize or maybe your existing career would lend itself to an online presence. You already have the expertise so you may be able to sell your services online.

To help you find the perfect niche using your existing passions or skills, there are several ways to research it. These include Google Trends, Google Keyword Tool, Wordtracker, once you find your keywords, Google them to check your competition, and forums. Find forums in your niche (google them – e.g. “business training forums”). Once you find your forums, mine them for information that you can use for your marketing. Amazon is a great place to look the feedback on books in your niche. The feedback will tell you what people are looking for in your niche and then you can figure out how to give them what they need. The course that I referred to above goes into great detail on this subject.

Find A Need And Fill It

Once you know your niche, find a need and fill it. Contrary to popular belief, it’s backwards to find a product first and then try to sell it to your followers. If they have no need for your product, you’ll never be able to sell them anything. It would be like trying to sell ice to eskimos! LOL!

  • Visit online forums to see what questions people ask and what problems they’re trying to solve.
  • Do keyword research to find keywords that a lot of people are searching, but for which not many sites are competing.
  • Check out your potential competitors by visiting their sites and taking note of what they’re doing to fill the demand. Then you can use what you’ve learned and create a product for a market that already exists–and do it better than the competition.

In order to be able to fill a need and sell anything to your audience, you really need to understand that audience. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What keeps them awake at night?
  2. What are they afraid of?
  3. What are they angry about?
  4. What are their top 3 daily frustrations?
  5. What trends are occurring/will occur in their businesses/lives?
  6. What do they secretly desire most?
  7. Is there a built-in bias to the way your audience makes decisions?
  8. Do they have their own language?
  9. Who else is selling something similar to your product? How?
  10. Who else has tried selling them something similar? How has that effort fallen short/ failed?

For a very detailed explanation of all of those questions (plus a whole lot more great information), click here for the course that I took that will help you figure out how to start, maintain, and grow your small business (online or offline).

How To Design Your Business Model

Now that you know what your niche and your perfect customer is, you need to figure out how you’re going to monetize the marketing you’ll be doing in your niche. A business model shows how an organization creates, delivers and captures value. In other words, it’s how you get your prospects, deliver your products and how, ultimately, you serve your audience.

There are several different ways to make money, including franchising, mlm, direct sales, and affiliate marketing. Let’s break this down. Franchising costs a lot of money (like hundreds of thousands of dollars) so if you don’t have that kind of capital, it’s not a good option. The upside to a franchise is that it leverages a system…when you buy a franchise, the system is already in place for you to follow. MLM (or network marketing as I like to call it) is a team based approach to selling. At first, it’s up to you to acquire customers and distributors but after a while, you’re depending on your team (downline) to bring in new customers and distributors of their own. Once they do that, you make a percentage of their sales too. It’s a great business model and it works well if you want to recruit customers and distributors for the rest of your life. Then, if and when your team quits (which is what happened to me after I started seeing some success), you lose your business. Direct sales is the same concept as MLM but with less levels. Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, is my personal favorite. It’s based on work that you do so you don’t have to depend on anyone else (however, if one of your customers sells something, you will get a small percentage) and if you pick a high ticket affiliate program, your commissions could be very attractive. Sure, you can go to Clickbank and find affiliate programs that pay a small commission but wouldn’t it be better to have to sell less product and make more money? Another option is to combine a couple of different types of businesses and profit from multiple streams of income. But, my recommendation is to start making money with one before you add another income stream to it.

Now that you have chosen your business model, you need to take some time to map out the business model canvas. To help you do that, here are some questions to consider:

• What key activities do your value propositions require?

• What are your distribution channels?

• What are your customer relationships?

• What is your value proposition?

• Who are your key partners, and what are your key supporters? Which key resources are you acquiring from partners, and so on?

• What are your revenue streams?

• For what value are your customers really willing to pay? For what do they currently pay?

• What is your revenue model, and what are the pricing tactics? Are you going to offer discounts? Are you going to offer a free trial on the front end?

Go through each of these questions and start thinking about what you’ll do for your business model.

Choosing & Creating A Winning Offer

Choosing the right product for your target market is critical because the product must hit home with your audience. It has to be something the market wants, because they’re not going to buy it if it doesn’t have the right benefit or overcome the right problem.

When coming up with your product, here are a few questions that you want to ask:

  • Does the concept of this product differentiate it from all the products your competitors offer?
  • Does it fill a need or satisfy a want, or are you offering another me-too product? You need to bring something unique and useful to the table.
  • Will the customer perceive a legitimate value in his or her purchase? Just because you think it’s valuable doesn’t mean they’ll feel the same way. The only way you’ll find out is to test it, by making offers to your audience. The ultimate test isn’t them saying they’re interested or they want it, it’s whether or not they buy.
  • Does the product offer the customer superior performance compared to similar products already available and on the market? What makes what you offer much better? What makes it different? What makes it unique?

There are a lot of other questions you should ask too but I didn’t want to overwhelm you with them all here. If you want to know what they are, you definitely should check out this course that helped me when I was trying to figure this whole online business thing out.

So, Where Do I Get These Products?

Great question! LOL! There are a few different ways to get the products you’ll be selling online.

Make Your Own

You can make your own products which has relatively low startup costs since you don’t have to produce a large upfront number of units like you would have to purchase if you were manufacturing or wholesaling. You have brand control since you can create any brand you wish with no limitations. You have total control on the price and quality, as well as allowing you to adjust quality, features and even the entire product on the fly. Making your own products, however, poses some negatives as well. It can be a time consuming process, it’s not scalable when your business takes off, and your product choices are limited to your skills and the resources you have available to you.

Manufacture Your Product

This means you find a factory and get to it. You build the prototype and your manufacturer produces large quantities needed.

The pros of manufacturing include 1) it can be be the best option for the lowest cost per unit giving you the greatest margins on your product, 2) you can build your own brand around your products, 3) you can set your own prices for your product, and 4) you’re in control of the quality of your final product.

The cons of manufacturing include 1) high startup costs are required for designing, prototyping and initial inventory orders, 2) there is the potential for fraud from oversees manufacturers, and 3) it takes time to get up and running.

Wholesale

This is a good option since the risk associated with purchasing inventory is lessened and there’s brand familiarity since you’d be selling already established brands. This is not a great option though because the brands that you’d be wholesaling are available through retailers. You will also, most likely, need to purchase a minimum order of each product.

Affiliate Marketing

This is the business model that I’m involved with and, in my opinion, is the quickest way to start your online business.

You don’t have to create your own products, you don’t have to buy, store, or ship products, there’s no payment processing, shipping and handling or customer support. The start-up cost is incredibly low, it’s easily scalable, you can operate your business from anywhere in the world, and you’re not bound by any minimum monthly sales.

There are cons, though, but I think the pros far outweigh the cons. You only get paid on the initial sale unless it’s a continuity model, but if it’s a high ticket affiliate program, that may not really be a problem. The company you represent can suspend the affiliate program any time or pay less commissions. You have to find new offers constantly to stay current, but if you’re with the right company, they will provide those offers for you. The customer doesn’t belong to you. You’re only referring people and not building a relationship with long-term benefits (if you direct people to your email list and then the link for the company you’re representing, through your email list, you will build a relationship).

Finding Your MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

When you’re first starting out, you want to keep it simple and that includes the product (s) you’ll be offering to your target market. A minimum viable product is the quickest minimum quality product. Minimum quality means that the product reaches that minimum level or requirement of what it needs to be. Really, it’s a prototype – you’re more concerned about speed and getting it to a minimum acceptable standard so you can test the concept.

Having an MVP allows you to launch and get feedback quickly.

  • Are people willing to buy it?
  • What do they think of it?
  • What are the problems?
  • What are the issues?
  • How can you make it better?

When you launch your first MVP, it won’t be perfect and might not even sell well. But you’ll get real feedback and you’ll see what works and what doesn’t. Every time you find something that doesn’t work, look at it as a good thing. Why? Because it means you’re closer to finding your optimum selling strategy. And, ultimately, that’s really what entrepreneurship is: a continual process of trying things, seeing what works, what doesn’t, and then adjusting along the way.

Don’t Go For Perfection…Just Get Started!

If you over analyze and try to get everything perfect before you launch your business, you’ll be waiting forever and you’ll never be successful. Most of being a successful entrepreneur is testing, testing, & more testing to figure out what works & what doesn’t work. Heck, it took Thomas Edison 10,000 tries before inventing the light bulb! So, just pick a niche, a target market, your product, the vehicle that you’ll use to launch your product (or someone else’s) and then pick a marketing method to start promoting.

How Will You Promote Your Products/Services?

Pick one marketing method and master it. My personal favorite is Facebook. With 1.5 billion users on Facebook and you’re on it anyway, it’s the hottest marketing mecca out there. Learn it, master it, and start promoting. But, there are other social media platforms too. I don’t want to get too far ahead here, though. You need to figure out what you’re doing first before you figure out how you’re doing it. When you leverage a great system to help you along the way (one with your very own personal coach), you’ll figure it all out, one step at a time.

I really hope this helped you in your pursuit of your online business dreams. Let me know what questions and comments you have below and share this article with your friends if you got value.

Until next time…

 

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