Brace yourself! This is not just an article. It’s a wake up call for every (newbie) online entrepreneur reading it. In this wake up call, we’ll walk you through 10 steps to starting your own online business.
If you’re thinking of starting an online business, half the battle will involve you steering clear of the pitfalls… and the other half will be you doing what actually matters in your business, instead of running around in circles.
The brutal truth is that thousands of people come online in droves every single day with hopes of starting an online business. Unfortunately, most will fail.
The road to success in this business is paved with the virtual corpses of the many who have tried and failed. A grim thought… BUT don’t let that discourage you.
There are many who do thrive and reach the pinnacles of success beyond their wildest dreams. It can be done…
And it all starts with you adhering to these 10 steps to starting an online business!
1. Choose a Proven Business Model
The first and MOST IMPORTANT tip you should be aware of is that you need to start a business based on a business model that works.
Here are a few examples:
- Affiliate marketing
- Creating and selling infoproducts
- Running a membership website
- Kindle publishing
- Flipping websites
These are just some of the online business models that work.
How do you know they work? Simple! Others are making money from them. That is the litmus test of profitability.
It’s always easier to do what works than to conjure up an untested strategy of your own and test it out.
Also note, it’s imperative that you choose a business model which gels with your innate talents and/or passion.
For example, if you love to write, publishing books on the Kindle platform could prove to be very profitable for you… and a rewarding undertaking too.
However, if you’re inclined towards graphics and art, you could become a freelancer and offer your graphic design services on sites like Fiverr or Upwork.
If you worked in a brick and mortar store before, the idea of running your own online ecommerce store might excite you, since you have tons of retail experience.
Well, go for it then!
What matters is that you choose a business model that suits you… But what if you have no skills? No worries. You can always learn.
2. Focus on One Thing
One of the most crucial steps to starting an online business is to focus on one thing at a time.
Once you choose your business model, you’ll need to be 100% focused on it.
The BIGGEST mistake many make is that they look at tons of different offers and make money online schemes – and they want to be a part of it all.
There’s even a term for this in the industry. They call it ‘shiny object syndrome’. It’s what happens when people keep buying every offer that looks profitable.
Today, they’re buying a course on affiliate marketing. Tomorrow, they’re into ecommerce. The next day, they’re creating a product on a topic they know nothing about.
They’re lured by the pitch and the promise of painless profits from a plethora of putrid products. That’s a lot of p’s in one sentence. Perfect!
This ‘get rich quick’ siren song leads them to their virtual watery graves in the tumultuous seas of online marketing.
In a matter of time, they’re broke, overwhelmed and cynical of the entire industry. It happens to the inteligent and ignorant alike… and it happens ALL the time!
You can avoid their dismal fates by being focused on your chosen business model – like a horse with blinders.
Once you pick your niche, you’ll stick with it no matter what – UNTIL you succeed. Nothing else distracts you. If you can do that, success will be inevitable.
There’s even an acronym for F.O.C.U.S – Follow One Course Until Success.
So simple and yet, so difficult to practice… but your longevity in this business hinges upon it.
3. Know Your Budget
You absolutely MUST know your budget and allocate a percentage of it to your marketing. No more, no less… NEVER EVER spend more than you can afford.
It’s extremely easy to rack up debt in this business. Thousands of people buy unnecessary products, courses, etc. and put it all on their credit cards hoping for quick profits to cover their costs.
In reality, the bills always come before the profits, and they come like clockwork.
Usually, the profits never materialize because the courses were unreliable and unnecessary in the first place.
You must avoid this pitfall! Be a cynic par excellence. Treat every product you come across as an opportunity to lighten your wallet. In most cases, you’ll be right.
These are the 3 basics you’ll need for most online businesses;
- A domain (Namecheap / Name Silo)
- Web hosting (Siteground / A2 hosting)
- An autoresponder (ConvertKit / Aweber / GetResponse)
For most online businesses, you’ll need these 3 components. Later on, you may get a page builder, keyword research tools, etc. to further your business.
But in the beginning, stick to the basics and just choose one brand of each to go with… which brings us to the next point…
4. Start Small
Since most will probably be on a limited budget, you’ll want to bite off what you can chew.
When buying a domain, it should be under $10. There’s absolutely no need to add on any extras.
When choosing hosting, opt to pay monthly or quarterly. Do not pay for an entire year at once. Or worse, for 3 years. Choose shared hosting rather than dedicated hosting.
Keep your costs low… but don’t buy cheap, unreliable products/services. (Always do your research before buying.)
Start small, and once the profits are rolling in, you can scale up and improve. That’s how you do it.
Avoid the error of thinking you need to start off on a grand scale. You don’t need to!
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
5. There’s No Push Button
Here’s something you should know – there are NO overnight profits in this business and there are definitely no ‘push-button profits’. Don’t let them tell you otherwise.
This industry is replete with snake oil salesmen who will talk a big talk and deliver nothing. In fact, they’re the norm. The reputable vendors are in the minority.
Most online (newbie) entrepreneurs who get into this industry can’t fathom how some people will say anything or lie about everything just to make a sale. Such dishonesty can be an outrage to some and be surprising to others.
So, they tend to believe all the hype and part with their money thinking that the vendors are trustworthy – only to discover that the products are regurgitated, rehashed, and the vendor’s actions are reprehensible.
But it’s too late. The money is gone, and all that’s left is a bitter taste in their mouths.
This unpleasant experience can be avoided by getting acquainted with the brutal truth that to make money online WILL require time and massive effort.
Both of which YOU will need to pay. There’s no other way.
Focus on building a strong foundation for your business by providing value to your customers, consistently improving your products or services, and adapting to changes in the market.
Remember that success is not measured by how quickly you achieve it but rather by the long-term growth and sustainability of your business.
6. Avoid High Ticket Courses
Here’s another point to note – when you’re starting out, there is NO need to pay anyone a few thousand dollars for a course or mentorship.
You’re still new and there’s much to learn. Once you’ve gotten started with your business model, you’ll understand the lay of the land.
While it’s important to invest in your education and stay up-to-date with current trends, it’s equally crucial not to break the bank in doing so.
Just remember to exercise due diligence before purchase. Check on the vendor’s reputation and make sure they’re legitimate.
7. Keep Learning
The steps to starting an online business is an ongoing process, and it requires continuous growth and learning.
To stay ahead of the competition, you need to acquire new skills, knowledge, and tools to keep your business relevant in the market.
Realize there really is no end to the learning process. What’s amazing is that you can learn just about anything by Googling it or looking for tutorials on YouTube.
In fact, there are many successful marketers who have built thriving online businesses just by learning as they go along. They didn’t buy high ticket courses or rely on mentors.
Anytime they had a problem, they’d search online or on YouTube for answers, and test them out. This is all part of the learning process and it’s a crucial skill you must have.
Knowing how to find answers to the problems that crop up in your business will help you overcome any obstacle which rears its ugly head.
8. Network with the Like Minded
Networking is crucial to the success of any online business. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals can provide you with valuable insights and inspiration, as well as potential business opportunities.
One of the best ways to get help and support will be to join forums and/or Facebook groups in your niche. You can build profitable JV partnerships and even find customers in these groups in future.
Influencers also have an established loyal following and can help promote your brand or product through their own channels.
Reach out to influencers through email or social media, but be sure to provide value first before asking for anything in return.
Networking may take time and effort, but it should be seen as an ongoing process rather than a one-time task on your checklist of steps to starting an online business
Do join these groups early on and contribute value without selling anything. Just by being helpful, you’ll develop a positive relationship with the people there and they’ll want to support you later on when you do start selling.
Another benefit that you’ll accrue is that when you teach others, you’ll end up learning more yourself.
9. Fail Your Way to Success
Sooner or later, you WILL encounter failure. This is to be expected. Failure is not the opposite of success. It’s a part of it.
There’s an important strategy you must adopt here – when you overcome failure (or if you hit a roadblock), you must always find a way to overcome it.
While this seems simple on the surface, so many people get it wrong.
Here’s an example…
Bill is building a niche website. He fills it up with content and everything looks great. This endeavor took him about 3 months.
But there’s just one problem… Nobody is visiting Bill’s awesome website!
This here is a traffic generation issue. It’s an obstacle.
On the surface, Bill may think he has failed and his site is a flop. In reality, this is just a new challenge and a learning opportunity.
However, what Bill does is abandon the site thinking he failed… and he begins working on a new site from scratch. Guess what happens?
It takes him another 3 months to build an awesome site, and AGAIN he hits the same roadblock.
Why? Because he hasn’t learned how to overcome the obstacle. That’s why!
As long as you don’t figure out how to smash through the roadblock, you’ll be destined to keep being blocked by it.
Once Bill learns how to drive traffic (using video marketing, SEO, paid ads, etc), he’ll see visitors swarming to his site… and any future site he builds. Fantastic!
The difference between successful entrepreneurs and unsuccessful ones is how they handle failure.
Instead of giving up or blaming others for their failures, successful entrepreneurs embrace them as learning opportunities and use them to improve themselves and their businesses.
You only need to learn how to overcome an obstacle once and you will progress. At least until you meet another obstacle and have to figure that one out… But this is how it is.
One of the major steps to starting an online business will be built around a rock-solid foundation of the obstacles you’ll need to overcome.
10. Learn to Outsource
Last but not least, we look at outsourcing. There’s no point in painting a rosy picture here.
As somebody who is new to online marketing, you’ll be well aware that your energy is finite.
As enthusiastic and eager as you may be, sitting in front of the computer for hours may tire you. It even affects the most tolerable. This business is a cerebral one and it can zap your energy.
The best way to conserve your energy will be to focus on the tasks that matter and outsource what you’re not good at.
One common area many marketers struggle with is graphic design.
They can spend hours fiddling with some graphics to create a blog image or a YouTube thumbnail only to discover that their image is so ugly that Freddy Krueger has nightmares about it.
At times like these, you should just pay someone on Fiverr $5-$10 to design a cover for you. This applies to any task you’re just not good at. They’ll do a better job than you because that task is not your forte.
Not only will outsourcing save you effort, but you’ll have the time to do more important work such as content creation or recording videos or whatever it is you do.
As your online business progresses and the profits start rolling in, you can outsource more tasks and focus on the non-negotiable work that moves the needle.
Your time and energy are precious. Conserve them by outsourcing.
Online Mistakes You Need to Avoid
Making mistakes is part and parcel of life and business. However, it’s best to avoid certain mistakes as best as you can because of the negative impact that they can have on your mental state.
So let’s take a closer look at the 3 most common mistakes that thousands make without realizing that they’re sabotaging their chances of success.
Don’t settle for a venture that doesn’t align with your values or interests. Instead, choose something that ignites your passion and inspires you every day.
Remember that starting an online business is not just about making money – it’s also about pursuing something meaningful and fulfilling.
So read through these mistakes and do some self-reflection. It will serve you well and you’ll know how to proceed with your business.
1. Lack of Passion
One of the biggest mistakes most (newbie) online entrepreneurs make is to assume that online marketing is easy.
This false assumption trips them up when they realize just how much work is required to make an online business work.
All too often we see ‘make money online’ guides promising easy profits with just 2 hours of work a week.
There are images of flashy cars, sprawling mansions, sexy women and a lifestyle by the beach where all you do is sip mojitos and watch your PayPal account flood with cash.
The reality though is quite the opposite… You’ll need to spend a lot of time tweaking and testing and setting up the required funnels, pages, ads, etc. to get your business off the ground.
If you lack passion for online marketing, you’ll quit at the drop of a hat when the going gets tough… and it always does.
Getting started is just the beginning… You need to go through the ‘hard yards’ till you reach a place where your income is stable and passive.
Now and only now, will you start to have the freedom to live life the way you want to.
Always remember that being persistent(I like to say stubborn) will help you get it and being consistent will help you keep it.
So, ask yourself what marketing online means to you. Why do you wish to do it? What are your reasons?
If it’s all about having an easy lifestyle where you’ll not need to work, chances are you’ll probably fail… It may seem harsh… but it’s the truth.
Your goals need to be bigger than an easy lifestyle. Figure out your ‘why’ and you’ll stay the course even when progress is slow and uncertain.
2. Lack of Repetition
Repetition is the mother of skill. It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer or a graphic designer or you have an ecommerce store.
You absolutely need to keep doing what you’re doing so that you get good at it.
It will take time to hone your skills and discover the nuances and subtleties of whatever you’re doing. Repetition leads to experience.
One good example would be paid advertising. There’s always a stage where you’ll lose some money because your ads don’t convert or you’re targeting the wrong people.
If you give up at the first sign of failure, you’ll never develop the knowledge to get good at it.
The goal is to keep repeating what you’re doing and make small changes where necessary to improve your chances of success.
Over time, you’ll be able to write better ads and instinctively know which markets are worth targeting.
Most newbies quit too soon… They do not give themselves enough time to repeat and make mistakes.
They fear failure without realizing that failure is not the opposite of success but a part of success.
Keep repeating what you do. It’s practice and it’s the cornerstone of achieving excellence in what you do.
3. Know it’s a Numbers Game
One of the most important principle steps to starting an online business is the 80/20 rule.
The Pareto principle states that roughly 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your efforts.
That essentially means that if you have 10 websites, probably 2 will make more money than all the rest.
If you publish 10 Kindle books, 1 to 3 of them might be bestsellers while the rest don’t do as well. This is just the way it is.
Most beginners just don’t do enough. They may write one Kindle book and if that doesn’t take off, they give up. Or they set up a blog and if they don’t see money coming in after 5 blog posts, they quit. They’ve barely scratched the surface, but they throw in the towel.
You need to take massive action and do more. The more effort you expend, the better your results will be.
So, once you establish one stream of income, scale it up so that your earnings multiply exponentially.
Once you have a stable source of income, keep it going and start working on a new income stream.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket… The more you do, the more you’ll earn and the more success you’ll achieve.
It’s definitely possible to make money online with no experience. You just need to abide by the steps to starting an online business above and have an open mind that’s keen to the mistakes you need to avoid.
You’ll need patience too, and should expect to wait at least 6-12 months before you see income rolling in. So, plan your budget well.
If you start making money sooner, that’s superb and exceptional. But if you don’t, just know that it’s the norm.
Make sure you have the grit and fortitude to stay the course until you see profit… It will come if you keep at it… Success in this business can definitely be yours.
“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill