Beginning an online business can be an intimidating experience. The majority of people coming online to earn some income have never operated or owned a business before and most don’t have any business training or education to speak of. How many other professions to you know that don’t require some formal training or a degree or certification?
The entry to online business is wide open and there are few obstacles for those that decide to “give it a go!” Of course, the rate of failure is unusually high!
Now I’m not suggesting that entering this field of online business without some actual business training is the best way to begin the journey … but many people have done just that and learned what they needed to know along the way. Trial and error is not the most efficient model for perfecting a process, but sometimes that’s what’s available so you go with it!
So here’s my simple 5-step plan for starting online:
1. Inventory your assets …
- knowledge (education)
- work history
2. From the items at the top of your new inventory list, identify (through online research and observation) a group of folks that are …
- rabid about the topic
- willing to spend money on it
- congregating in identifiable places
- prone to joining communities on the subject
- participate in the niche on a daily or weekly basis
3. Hang out with this crowd at the forums, blogs, popular web sites, etc for a short time (maybe a couple of weeks) specifically looking for …
- ways to heighten their enjoyment of the niche
- vendors already established in the niche that might become competitors
- gaps or holes in the niche training and education available online
- logical products that the crowd would consume that aren’t readily available
- sub-niches that don’t seem to be addressed well online
- problems or issues that prospects in the niche are trying to solve
- ways to bring the crowd together as a community
- sources of niche news, entertainment, events, best products and leader profiles
4. Evaluate the results of what you’ve found in #3 above by doing this to validate (confirm) that there are indeed prospects waiting for your offers …
- Check Nextmark for lists of fans in the niche (are there more than 3 mailing lists?)
- Is there is a “dummies” book or two on the subject or idea you have?
- Use your favorite keyword tool – you want to find lots of longtail keywords (with roughly 100 phrase match searches/month or more)
- Visit Amazon and search on your keywords to see what books, magazines and products are for sale in the niche – the more the better
5. Develop a short pdf “freebie” report (2-3pp) that you give away, hopefully in exchange for a new friend (and her email) in the niche.
The subject of the report is something like “How I Discovered The Secret to ___________” or “12 Amazing New Ways to Become an Expert at __________”. The idea is to both test the water for your new product, membership site, ebook, etc, … but also … to begin
- developing your credibility as a niche author and expert
- building the early stages of a niche email list
- identifying targeted prospects for sales, testimonials, referrals, and feedback on your new business
Extra Credit. If you really want to validate your idea quickly, set up a simple squeeze page online, use the freebie from #5 as the carrot, then drive some very targeted long-tail PPC traffic to it. If you don’t get much interest, refine things until you do or try a different product, ebook, member site, etc.
The point of all this, of course, is to survey the field online and test the water on a small, quick, inexpensive, easy scale before diving in head first to create a full-blown product or business.
“Ramping up” (scaling) after you have proven niche potential and viability doesn’t mean going from this initial test to 100% full-blown business set up. It means that you grow your business one step at a time, constantly testing, tracking, and tweaking all your business variables in order to optimize your
- lead generation system
- new prospect funnel
- traffic conversions
- new products/offerings
- backend sales
- partner/affiliate system
- customer nurturing and management
For anyone brand new to Internet marketing: If you don’t recognize some or all of the terms used here, search this blog and you should find answers. Another better approach is to find an experienced mentor willing to help you.
If this plan seems overwhelming, focus on tackling and accomplishing just one step at a time. If you have already bought into the notion that creating a profitable online business is “push button” easy – forget it – it’s not.
I would be very surprised if you searched online solidly for a full day and found even one truly profitable business that was created with no work or the ease of a fully automatic push-button business. Get started today!
To your online business success!