What is your advice to someone who is trying to start an online business?
Welcome to the world of entrepreneurs. There’s a lot to be found in this group of people, not just money, but many other benefits that are personal to you and your real goals in life, the ones you actually want to do and need money to achieve.
Let’s get to the advice on how to start and run a business that gives you those things.
1) Find uniqueness in old ideas: You don’t have to be 100% original, you just have to model what you’re doing off what works for others, and then try to take lessons about what they could be doing better. For example, if you are starting an eCommerce website (and I strongly recommend starting some kind of monetized website related to your venture), then do a bit of market research on the best sites that sell what you sell, and take ideas from that about what your site should be like. Then summarize your core selling points in one brief sentence, like a mission statement. You don’t have to officially use that as a tagline or whatever, just keep it in mind as you develop your business’s platform. Most startups today fail due to lack of focus and consistency. You have to know why you’re doing the work that you’re committing to every day, and you have to like that reason enough to really commit every day.
2) Pick the right niche: Every business belongs to at least one niche. The best niches are ones you are personally interested or experienced in, where you have friends with good connections, and/or ones that involve major markets like health, travel, pets, etc. There’s also the option to go into the B2B market. The fact is that business owners, managers, etc. have a good amount of money to spend and the authority to spend a lot of it at once. They also respect the effort it takes to go into business, so they make for great customers.
3) Write your goals and leave them in plain sight: It’s important to set and keep track of both short-term and long-term goals. But I believe that what really helps isn’t thorough journaling, but writing out goals and seeing them over and over again. Big, small, goal of the week, goal of the day, goal at $100,000 in the bank, you name it. You can just write whatever comes to you on a piece of paper and put it above your computer monitor, on your bathroom mirror, something where you’ll see it again and again.
I suspect that instead of goal journals working due to thoroughly expressing events and aspirations of the day, it’s really just the act of writing something, and getting constantly looking back at it again and again, that is what convinces people to stick with their entrepreneur tasks a lot more often. This technique gets to the center of those aspects to take advantage of them and hack your brain.
4) Start small, then scale up: Take on the simplest business model you want to try. When you have fewer variables to make decisions on, you have more security against things going wrong. After you get a hold over that, you can expand. Once you start earning good profit from one niche, pick another or expand your service and product line.
5) Set a budget: This mainly applies to ads. You should have a pre-determined budget and the willingness to stick to it. In the beginning of your journey, unless you have a pretty good amount of money to lose, I don’t recommend doing any sort of social media ads or other direct paid advertising avenues, until you’ve established a funnel and are prepared to consistently spend money at a modest loss to slowly test your way into the black. It takes work, but a good funnel will establish enough potential sales points per customer to break you even on average.
Once you have that going for you, but you attack it from the ad side as well, you’ll eventually have an infinite ad budget. You’ll be able to run ads forever because, in the end, you get paid much more for running them than they cost per day. But it’s going to take a little while, usually months, to test up to that level of performance, so you obviously need to be comfortable running an ad at a loss for a little while.
6) Be optimistic: There will be downhill and uphill battles, times where you can’t believe how well things are going, and times where you feel like quitting because it seems like anything could go wrong at any time. Have confidence in yourself and be positive. Most of this path is about taking your lumps and learning where the punches usually come from. Every niche and business type is going to be a little different because it has different customers. Once you get through the model once by yourself, once you make a passive income stream or set up a side gig, repeating that and scaling it up is a whole lot easier. Every time the journey feels hard, that is when things are about to turn around for the better if you stick with it. Because you’ll learn, you’ll improvise, and you’ll get a better understanding of the market.
7) Keep alternatives/exit plans ready: Some ideas are just not going to work. So don’t just rely on a single plan. If you are careful with your money, a business model failing will rarely cost you more than the time you spent putting into it. Which is valuable, of course, but there are many, many business models you can take on right now that cost very little to set up.
The above tips can be helpful for anyone who wants to start a business. You can also explore the Knowledge Base on my website, where I have answered many similar questions.
If you’d like to learn things sort of in the direction that I did, I would recommend The 4-Hour Work Week. Again, you can see my site to find a review that goes into more detail.
Feel free to reply with any questions.