Thinking of starting an online business? Stop letting the skills, creativity and passion that define you go to waste. Starting an online business in these days with the right guide isn’t that difficult. So stop squandering your efforts on an employer and a boss who never appreciate or acknowledge all that you do for them.
Stop assuming that if you work hard enough for long enough, you’ll get to where you want to be. Stop letting your dream to start an online business become a distant memory. Stop missing out on the future you deserve. Because, let’s be honest here…
How long has it been?
How many opportunities for promotion or even lateral progression have passed you by?
It’s time for you to stop waiting for crumbs to fall from the corporate table and start making your own opportunities. It’s time to take those ideas you scrawled on that notepad in your desk and transform them into a workable business plan. It’s time to stop making excuses and take a leap of faith in yourself and start an online business.
There was a time when aspiring entrepreneurs could only start out with the aid of a wealthy patron or a cripplingly huge bank loan. But those were the days when businesses needed offices and physical presences. Living in the digital era provides opportunities for bright and ambitious people to start their own businesses online with a fraction of the risks and overheads. The internet is the great leveler.
It allows you to compete for market space with huge multinational titans. If you’ve spotted a gap in the market that you’re ready to fill with your very own online business, there’s never been a better time to pursue online entrepreneurship.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that every online business is destined to make a 7-figure turnover. If starting an online business was a surefire path to fame and fortune, everybody would be doing it. That’s why we’ve compiled this Ultimate Guide to Starting an Online Business.
Here we’ll outline 7 easy steps to help you to make the strongest start on your business journey and lay a solid foundation for sustainable success.
Are you ready to take your first steps towards success in online business? We can’t wait to help you down this often challenging but always exciting path…
Step 1: Learn Timeless Principles From Successful Online Businesses
Online business may be a relatively new phenomenon, but it still hews closely to the timeless principles of business that go back centuries. As long as people have been trading with one another there have been good business principles which simply never age no matter what technological and social changes may be wrought in the business landscape itself.
Get in touch with business mentors and experts in your chosen field. Very few successful business people want to kick the ladder out from under them. The majority are more than happy to share their knowledge with aspiring entrepreneurs who are trying to make it behind them. Look for people whose success and business practices you want to emulate… But choose your heroes wisely.
In your zeal to make good money and lay the foundations of your business empire be wary of anyone offering to share secret “hacks” that will allow you to command 6 figure incomes with minimal work. Anyone offering quick fixes is not offering a sustainable business model. By all means learn from ambitious and driven people, but make sure that the people you learn from don’t neglect their ethics for the sake of profit. More and more consumers are motivated by ethics as much as value for money. After all, would you want to do business with a “take the money and run” type?
Another timeless principle of business is to focus your attention on getting paid work. This principle is sadly obfuscated in the digital age where there are so many vanity metrics which can be mistaken for success. You’ll likely get many offers of unpaid work in return for followers on social media or the ever-nebulous “exposure”. But the last time we checked, those little heart emojis on your phone screen didn’t pay the bills or put food on the table.
Focus your attention on the quality of the goods or services that you provide. Again, it’s easy to overlook this important principle in an era characterized by flashy marketing. But when all’s said and done, now matter how clever, inventive and dazzling your marketing efforts, if the quality isn;t there, consumers will have no reason to keep coming back to you.
As the quality of your products, services and operations improve your reputation will grow. This will allow you to slowly move up the value chain. Don’t be afraid to charge your customers or clients more as you generate more value for them. It’s very common for nascent entrepreneurs to feel a degree of “impostor syndrome”. This can make them shy about hiking up their prices. While you may assume that undercutting your competitors from price is a good way to stand out amongst fierce competition, this will only ever restrict your cash flow and make it harder to turn a profit.
As long as you can demonstrate that you’re worth it and bring value to your transactions, your customers will be happy to pay proportionately.
Step 2: Find A Million Dollar Niche And A Need That You Can Fulfill
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to assume that if you build it, they will come. While your skills, experience and engaging personality may give you a leading edge over your competitors, you hobble your potential for growth if you don’t choose the right niche. The better you know your niche, the better you can cater to the needs of your target market and build a brand that resonates with them as consumers.
Don’t fall into the trap of mistaking a niche for a trend. In your eagerness to make your mark on the business landscape you may feel the urge to hitch your wagon to a fast-growing trend and ride it to wealth and success. The trouble, however, is that trends are (by their very nature) not sustainable. They come and go. Just ask anyone who invested a fortune in fidget spinners or slime. They can become intoxicatingly ubiquitous for a while… But when the trend dies down, your profits inevitably nosedive.
One of the durest ways to find sustainable success in business is to find a profitable niche and fulfill a need within that niche is not presently being met by your prospective competitors. So, which are the most profitable niches to which you may want to hitch your wagon? Here are some suggestions where many an aspiring entrepreneur has found success Take a look and ask yourself what they have in common? What is it that keeps these niches evergreen?
Pets- We homosapiens love our pets. In fact, the US alone spends over $70 billion on pet products. Our furry, feathered (and even scaly) friends are always there for us and we just love to show them how much we appreciate it. In the US right now, there are an estimated 180 million dogs and cats to say nothing of rodents, fish, lizards and other pets. That figure doesn’t seem set to dive any time soon.
Dating- We all yearn for companionship. But in an era where we’re working harder and for longer hours than ever, it can be really difficult to make a connection to someone special. Fortunately, an entire industry has arisen around the problem of how to begin and sustain a relationships. From dating apps to books on relationships, the dating industry is estimated to be worth over $3BN by 2020.
Health, fitness and weight loss- In an era where we’re all battling against long working hours and a sedentary lifestyle, more and more of us are desperate to get leaner, fitter and healthier. Unless something radical comes along to change our desk, car and sofa bound lifestyles the health, fitness and weight loss industries will always be big business. From healthy eating guides to fitness apps and dietary supplements there are many ways in which enterprising minds can make good money within this niche.
Beauty- Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but it’s also an enormous industry with a net value that will exceed $800BN by 2023. From developing new beauty products and formulas to becoming a beauty influencer on social media, there are no shortage of ways in which those with wits and ambitions can find opportunity here.
Self Improvement- Our health, fitness and appearance are not the only areas in which people often want to improve themselves. They may want to be better rewarded in their careers, more satisfied in their interpersonal relationships or simply learn to take greater joy in the little things that make up life. Just ask the likes of Tony Robbins or Jack Canfield just how much there is to be made in the self improvement industry.
Gadgets and tech- We live in a time of technological wonder. The “Better living through technology” ethos of the 1950s has snowballed into a consumer tech market that will be worth almost $1,800BN (yes, you read that right) by 2024. As long as people seek a more comfortable and convenient life through technology, this industry will never stop growing.
Personal finance- Many of us struggle with our personal finances and need the right advice and tools to help right the ship. We could all use a little help knowing how much to put into our savings or how to budget more effectively. And there are numerous ways in which your business can help them from personal finance blogging to app development.
Wealth building and money making- Although many of us are working longer hours than ever, we all seem to need a little extra cash. Perhaps it’s inevitable in an era where so many people work for corporations which repress their wages to insulate their profits. Nonetheless, there’s money to be made in helping others to make money. From developing apps that facilitate trading stocks or forex to courses and ebooks on making money online, if you know how to make money and generate wealth, sharing that knowledge could be highly profitable.
So, what do these niches have in common?
They’re all attuned to our human wants, needs and desires. They’re all predicated on things that people will never stop wanting; confidence, happiness, love, security and fulfillment. Find a niche that appeals to these and you’re on to a winner.
Step 3: Start Your Business From Scratch With A Product That’s Already Selling
When all’s said and done, your business is only ever as good as it’s products. But that doesn’t mean that your business should be stalled by “perfect product paralysis”. Many a business has fallen at the first hurdle because it has tried to formulate the perfect product. SPOILER ALERT- There’s really no such thing. All products have challenges that must be overcome as well as its own share of opportunities.
If you’ve formulated an idea for a business but aren’t sure what first steps to take, start with one profitable product. Once this one product has gained traction with your target market you can release a second and more and more as you develop both a reputation and an understanding of your chosen market’s needs. Of course, finding that one profitable product is easier said than done.
This is where market research comes in. Ideally, your should launch your business off the back of a product that’s already selling. If you can add your own USP or a twist that makes your product stand out from the herd, so much the better. However, there are caveats here. You need to find a sweet spot between establishing quantifiable interest in a product and finding a product that’s market has already matured.
Amazon reviews of similar products can be a useful metric for establishing this. Look for products that have a relatively low amount of Amazon user reviews. There’s a sweet spot to be found here. Under 25 reviews could mean that the market is too small for you to build a successful business on the back of the product. By the same token, over 200 reviews can indicate that the market has matured and your product’s place in it may be redundant.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should be afraid of competition. Competition establishes consumer interest and provides you with an opportunity to provide better value for consumers.
You should also keep certain logistical considerations in mind when selling any product online. Carrying out extensive market research will help you to ascertain the profitability of the product and how much of a margin you’ll have between product revenue and inherent overheads. You’ll need to consider;
- Average price per unit. A product with a value of less than $15 is unlikely to cover your overheads while products valued over $50 will cost you a fortune to build a robust inventory.
- Size and weight per unit- The more you spend on shipping, the longer it’ll take for the profit to be profitable.
- Duty rates, taxes and fees- Are there any other, less obvious costs that the product might incur? Fail to take these into account and you could find that your cash flow is impeded and it’s difficult to turn a profit.
Step 4: Duplicate & Customize Successful Online Businesses Funnel As A Beginner
Choosing a right product that’s predisposed to sell within your chosen niche is one thing. But it’s another thing altogether to establish a profitable sales funnel. You don’t just want products that drive clicks. While a nice vanity metrics, clicks on your product pages don’t pay the bills. You want products that will convert into sales. So to understand this process lets look at what you need in order to start making sales and later on discuss how to hack the process.
Now your sales funnel should have 3 simple goals;
- Get traffic.
- Generate leads.
- Sell products.
If it’s doing the first one or two of these but not the third, it could be a long time before your business becomes profitable. You want to bolt out of the gate, not trot along for months or even years gathering your momentum.
First, let’s look at the top of the funnel – getting traffic. This is where SEO is of paramount importance. The better positioned you are ahead of your competitors in SERPS, the more likely it is that busy and fickle consumers will click on your product page and not your competitors’. Content marketing and paid social media marketing are both effective solutions for getting traffic and we’ll look at those in greater detail later on in this guide.
The important thing to remember is that this stage is about brand awareness, exposure, influence and engagement, not the hard sell. It’s in the way you interact with people on social media. It’s in the content you post on your website (or other people’s websites). It’s in your daily interactions with new prospects. Keep in mind that brand awareness is about more than just letting people know that you exist. It’s about letting them know that you can be of value to them.
Now, let’s take a look at the middle of the funnel. This is where we start to capitalize on the brand awareness, we’re building. At this point we’re converting curious consumers into leads. Again, this isn’t about the hard sell. It’s about piquing consumer interest and trying to get them to engage with you.
So, what’s the difference between a prospect and a lead. A lead has given you something important to demonstrate their interest and sow the seeds of engagement with your brand… their email address. This isn’t a guaranteed sale, by any means, but it does indicate that they want to get to know your brand better. The following are all great ways to capture an email address;
- Free ebooks / white papers
- Free trials
- Quizzes and questionnaires
- Free quotes / appraisals
All of the above are what we call lead magnets. They need to capture an email but they also need to be of value to the consumer. These can also give you the information you need to give the consumer targeted content, offers and promotions which brings us to the final stage of the funnel.
So, let’s talk about selling. At this point the consumer may be willing to place their trust in you. But it’s up to you to earn it. Consumers are in the “research” phase at this point, and it’s essential to position yourself as the solution to their problems.
Remember that even a qualified lead may take days or even weeks before committing to buy. A combination of targeted email ads, motivating special offers, reminders and retargeting ads can be especially useful in gently nudging the lead towards a purchase.
With all of this in mind, here are some workable ways to help your funnel flow smoothly;
- Create attention-grabbing landing pages.
- Keep a steady flow of traffic coming to them using paid social media marketing, content marketing and social links.
- Generate lead magnets that are of value to the consumer.
- Make it quick, easy and worthwhile for them to give you their data.
- Keep in touch with them through targeted emails which gently encourage leads who are dragging their feet.
Now let’s talk about duplicating & customizing the process (hacking the process). A very easy and very smart way to reach all those 3 goals we previously discussed it to find what’s already having success in your niche market.
Once you’ve found what’s selling like gang busters, you can simply follow the whole funnel sequence of pages and screen capture every single page the sequence sends you through. Note: this entails that you may have to spend money on a product or a service to uncover the following pages that sells a higher value offer.
Screen capturing the pages and lining them up as the sequence sends you through, will allow you to create a diagram “birds eye view” of the whole funnel process that your competition uses to generate leads and close sales.
Duplicating the same process as your competition while customizing the offer with a better twist of value added bonuses etc can set you up for major success on your first product launch.
Step 5: Start Generating Income Through Paid Social Media Marketing
Returning to the first stage in your funnel, the more traffic you can drive to your online presence, the more opportunities you have to move consumers through your funnel. Remember that traffic is only as profitable as the steps you take to convert all those prospects. Otherwise it’s just a vanity metric.
You’ll likely have heard that it’s always preferable to get a flow of traffic to your website or online store through organic means. And while this is absolutely true, it can take months or even years to organically grow a following. Paid social media marketing like Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can help to generate a surge of interest which you can then capitalize upon. Thus, they may first come to you through PPC, but they’ll come back to you organically.
So, how do you create a paid social media marketing campaign that sparks genuine interest and drives profitability?
First you have to consider just how crowded most users’ social feeds are and just how many items are vying for their attention. Your ad needs to draw their attention and deliver your message quickly and efficiently. A colorful image is the best way to do this and should take up at least 50% of your total ad space. You also need an attention grabbing headline and a description appealing enough to get users to click on your Call To Action (CTA).
Think about how your ad uses images. Do they look professional and high quality? Anything less can cast aspersions on your emerging brand. What sort of colors does the ad use? Do some research on color psychology to see how your use of color can not only grab your attention but compel them to click through.
Make it easy for satisfied users to like, share and comment upon your ad. Don’t expect it to go viral, necessarily, but if it can generate interest from other users in your prospect’s peer group, that’s definitely a win.
Finally, and this is the hardest part, make sure that your ad is original. Don’t forget that the average consumer is deluged with marketing messages all day, every day. If your ad is clever, witty and promises genuine value to the user, this is a recipe or PPC success.
Step 6: Share Your Knowledge And Teach Your Skills To Like Minded People
Your reputation is your most valuable commodity in today’s competitive landscape. So, how do you want to be seen both inside and outside of the business community?
Do you want to be known as someone who shares their knowledge and teaches their skills to a network of other, like minded people? Or do you want to be the sort of person who takes the money then kicks the ladder out from underneath them?
One of the many wonderful things about doing business in the digital age is that entrepreneurs have virtually unlimited access to an incredible resource… Each other. In order to be successful in online business you should never be standing still. You should always be gaining and imparting knowledge.
As soon as you’ve learned a new skill that can contribute to your success in business, share it with others. No entrepreneur can afford to rest on their laurels, and the most successful are always trying to expand and improve upon their skill set. They say that it takes 10,000 hours or 5 years to become an expert at anything.
However, while that may be true for pro athletes, research demonstrates that it’s actually the first 20 hours of practice that is integral to the learning and mastery of a new skill. This can be broken into chunks of just 45 minutes a day. Even the busiest entrepreneurs can commit to that. When learning new skills you should follow this process;
- Decide what you want to master
- Break it down into a series of component skills
- Identify the most important of these skills
- Learn enough (through reading and research) to apply the theory in practice
- Remove any time or attention barriers to practice
- Commit to 20 hours of practice
- Get it done. No excuses.
Do this and you’ll always learn new skills that can better your business and build value in your brand. But what’s the best way to share knowledge and skills with others? That’s where content marketing comes in…
Step 7: Write Copy That Sells Your Business As The Solution
Even novices in the world of digital marketing understand the importance of content marketing. Generating regular content in the form of blog posts, white papers, guides and tutorials or even videos is an invaluable way of establishing your business presence. First of all, it affords you the opportunity to create a sense of identity and personality for your business.
People don’t want to do business with anonymous, profit-driven drones. Just because you’re doing business in the online realm doesn’t mean that consumers don’t want that human touch. Through your content, users will get to know the ethos and personality of your business and get a feel for you as its CEO. Establish your personality, knowledge, expertise and experience as the USP of your business. After all, these are the things that none of your competitors can imitate.
What’s more, taking the time to invest in regular, high quality content can also give your SEO a nice little organic nudge and position you ahead of your competitors in Search Engine Results Pages (especially if your content gets quality engagement, is read all the way through and is shared regularly).
All that said, new entrepreneurs cannot fall into the trap of just writing the first thing that comes into their heads. Yes, it’s important to write from a position of knowledge, passion and excitement, but every post needs to start with a simple question in mind…
“What is the reader going to get out of this?”
If your posts aren’t written and planned with the reader’s needs in mind, your copy will simply come across as self-indulgent or self-congratulatory. It needs to provide real value for them. It needs to help them to solve a problem that they encounter regularly, overcome a common frustration or suggest ways to make their day-to-day lives easier or richer. This is the kind of copy that resonates with readers and gains virality through social sharing.
Of course, this is easier said than done. And when you’re busy running your business the last thing you can afford is to spend hours staring at a blank screen hobbled by writer’s block. Here are some simple ingredients for a compelling blog post;
Start with what you know- Your copy is much more compelling if it comes from a position of knowledge and authority. What’s more, writing about what you know is much easier and more enjoyable.
Build upon research- Once you have an outline for your content, ensure that you have the research, sources, stats and figures to back it up. Fail to do your research and not only will you be far more likely to encounter writer’s block, your copy will lack authority… And you may get called out on any false assertions you make.
Start with an outline then add flesh to the bones- It’s much harder to produce great copy when you’re freestyling. Get your key points down in the form of subheadings and then flesh these out later.
Edit and polish- Go away from your desk, grab a coffee then reread what you’ve written. Put yourself in the position of your typical customer. Is it engaging, enjoyable and valuable to them? If not, you may need to polish your post a little.
Follow these 7 steps and you’ll have a strong foundation upon which to build your online business.
So what do you think about starting your online business?
Are you up for the challenge?
What step(s) do you think would be the toughest for you to master?
Let me know in the comment box below!
I’ll be happy to hear your thoughts and connect with you to discuss it more 😉
About The Author
Your Millionaire Mentor
Shaqir Hussyin is the founder and CEO of Shaqirhussyin.com & Funnels.com Nicknamed the “Backpack Millionaire”, he’s invested $350,000 into his own education and training. Whilst traveling to 100+ countries, Shaqir has built over 10+ million dollar brands and attracted over 500,000+ subscribers.
His signature program is now available at: CreateDigitalCourse.com specially designed for aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to start their online business with their very own high paying product.
Shaqir is also a highly sought-after speaker and direct response “Sales Funnels” global leader you can meet in person. His work has impacted over 100,000 businesses in 65 different countries. Connect with Shaqir on Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn & FB Group.