You are the new owner of an online business.
You finally made the decision to go out on your own and leave the crowded corporate business world behind.
You have chosen to “do your own thing” – to be your own boss – to take sole responsibility for everything that happens in your business and you answer to no one (except, of course, your spouse!)
In a previous post, I gave the example of developing an online bookstore in such a way that you’re not trying to compete with the Big Box retailers head-to-head.
Here’s how to do it:
There are tons of niches in the book business that fly under the radar of the multi-nationals.
To find a niche that you are passionate about, think deep, focus deep.
Choose an insignificant niche that still has thousands of worldwide fanatics that will understand your passion and want to share in your knowledge of the subject.
I’ll save the details of how you go about refining and focusing on your subject for another discussion.
But what I hope you’ll begin to realize is that you have small business advantages and competitiveness that large organizations, by their very nature, will never possess.
You must identify and capitalize on the unique traits of your solo business as you determine your business niche, revenue model, and marketing strategies. These will be your advantages over much larger businesses in your niche.
Again, I must emphasize: you will only be able to compete profitably by staying out of the crosshairs and the direct path of the big boys.
These are the principles by which you will operate as a solo entrepreneur:
1. You answer to no one. You, and you alone, decide the path you’ll take at every crossroad.
There is no faster decision-making process in the business world.
When time is of the essence, you will rule!
2. Because you operate alone, there is no need to ask for the blessing of bosses, managers, or the finance department in order to implement strategies or changes.
Very literally, “you da man!” Move nimbly and be prepared to pounce on every opportunity. This is where you can shine!
3. Unlike big business, your business is very risk-averse.
You can begin your company on the proverbial shoestring, and try different strategies and products on your customer pool very quickly and with relatively small investments of capital and time.
Poor decisions will happen; but they won’t cripple your ability to continue to function profitably. Every poor decision you make, in essence, means that you are one step closer, one less trial toward reaching your goal.
4. You are an efficient hunting machine.
You pick your prey, choose the battleground, set the time and circumstance when you will attack, and maximize your chances for success with a very stealthy approach and quick a retreat (if necessary).
Your small business can thrive if you remember to operate in this mode. You can choose any niche you want, and product or service you want, and how you will end up positioning your business within the niche.
5. There is no pressure to dominate or crush your competition.
You should strive to be unique, exceptional at what you do best, and to become the only logical choice in your customer’s purchase decision. And because you have positioned your business in a unique, one-of-a-kind way, you have eliminated your direct competitors.
Customer trust, satisfaction, and loyalty to you will take care of your competition.
6. A one-person operation, by its very nature, should be laser focused and extremely concentrated on a very narrow mission.
Forget diversification and breadth – you want to go deep, deep, deep! Let the big guys chase mass appeal . . . “your mission, Jim, should you choose to accept it is” . . . specialization!
The tendency among most new business owners is to look for as broad a base of customers as possible.
You should do just the opposite! Throw away the telescope and find a microscope!
Even when you specialize and target your audience as much as possible, there will still be thousands globally that want what you are offering. It’s due to the reach of the Internet.
7. Use your personality, your individual experience, your successes and failures, your likes and dislikes to personally relate to and communicate with your customers. They want to see you as a real, live, person that they are dealing with.
Take them to the “edges” of your subject where big business never treads. What does that mean? Don’t focus on or sell the same things that 90% of the businesses in the niche peddle. Get creative. Find unique and clever ways to set your business apart from all the rest of the competition in the niche.
Give your prospects and customers a unique and exceptional business experience that they won’t find anywhere else.
As you become successful at doing this, you will be building natural barriers around your business model that will not allow copycats or knock-offs to clone your ideas.
8. Maybe surprisingly, there are fortunes to be made by catering to personalization, customization, and the whims of your paying customers in the niche.
Read that last sentence again. It could be worth $1 million dollars to you – or more! Give your audience what they want – package it just for them – and you will be rewarded handsomely.
Here’s a tip: If your goal is $1,000,000 in sales, go after $10,000 from 100 customers rather than $100 from 10,000 buyers.
Better yet, figure out a way to satisfy 10 wealthy spenders at $100,000 each!
9. You can afford to step on a few toes.
Of course, you shouldn’t try to personally offend and “tick off” everyone in sight. But don’t apologize for being “you” and don’t try to appease everyone. Take a stand when you talk about things that are controversial in the niche.
Don’t cater to the masses and try to become a consensus-building expert.
Be yourself and let those who accept you as you are become your followers.
The prospects that don’t accept you and your ideas will either hang around for the controversy (which can be a good thing sometimes) or they will leave (which can also be good at times).
Democracy is for big business. Causes, opinions, and advocates will thrive in solo business.
10. Home based business owners are creative, fearless, independent thinkers. Leave the pack and hunt alone.
There is nothing so ill conceived, so doomed to failure as a copycat, boring, dime-a-dozen, herd-mentality small business in an over-saturated online market. Most likely your competitors are already established names in your new niche.
Certainly there are challenges to overcome and barriers blocking the entry to every profitable small business niche market.
But if you’re smart about choosing your subject, about positioning your business, and waging your battles on your terms, success and profitability can be enjoyed by solo entrepreneurs everywhere! It’s your best hope of full time income.
To your online business success,