As you look at starting a business online or offline, here are a few tips I’d like to share based on my long career in small business development:
1. Most every professional career I know takes years to prepare for and get good at. Internet marketing is no different despite the never-ending hype you will experience that suggests anyone can make thousands of dollars very quickly and effortlessly online. This is not to say that it takes years before you can begin to create income. I think IM (Internet marketing) is best learned as “on the job training.” So start your business and learn and profit as you go. If you have no money in reserve to pay the daily bills, don’t bank on this career to all-of-a-sudden dump a full time income into your lap. Keep a full time job – but work nights and weekends to begin learning about and growing your online business.
2. Others are telling you to follow your passion or what interests you. Said slightly differently . . . Inventory your knowledge, passions, past work experience, education, training, hobbies, and things you are good at doing to see if you have an advantage of knowledge in a particular topic. This could be a place to start (but doesn’t have to be) as you contemplate what type of a business you want to set up. Having an “advantage” in a topic means that you already have knowledge, experience, and some authority to share with others about that topic. You will need to figure out how to increase and monetize your advantage, but that is not real difficult once you understand what your audience wants. Which brings us to #3.
3. Everything starts with identifying and defining your audience … those people you will serve as prospects, subscribers, and customers. Market research and study online will help you to understand your marketplace and who is in it, what they will buy, who the competition is, what products are currently available, what they sell for, where this future audience can be found online … and most particularly, what problems, wants, desires, and dreams they have. You are establishing, for your future business, where there is buying demand from prospects in your marketplace.
4. Always sell into established demand. You are not Apple or Microsoft or a huge company ready and able to spend millions on developing new and cutting edge technology and products that don’t exist today. Instead, you should focus on creating things (mostly information products and services) that your audience is already clamoring for. Locate demand first, as we mentioned in #3 above, then work on finding a way to supply that demand with an excellent product or service. It’s how profitable businesses have been created for hundreds of years all around the globe!
5. Your business model will be the way you operate in connecting the demand with the supply. The identification of a particular business model is where many people wrongly begin their journey in IM. A better way to decide upon a business model is to look at what makes the most sense when considering a delivery system of your solutions to your audience. It could be affiliate selling (where you get a commission for delivering buyers to other product creators), or direct marketing of your own goods to your audience, or selling physical goods (e-commerce), or blogging where you profit from making recommendations to a loyal audience, or running a membership site where you charge for private knowledge, or consulting with clients for a fee, or . . . ??? The point is, there are many different business models available to do online selling. I’m suggesting you let your audience, their demand, your chosen supply system, and also the success of others in similar circumstances be your guide in determining which business model works best for your situation.
6. Build an email list of subscribers from the very beginning. No matter what niche, what audience, or what business model you go with, it’s important to build a contact list of people that you can serve within the topic you’ve chosen. As you serve them, they become trusting, loyal, and your “bread and butter” as your own private audience (marketplace) for paid solutions you offer. Many business owners will tell you their subscriber list is the single most important asset their business owns.
This is just a beginning. I hope you will keep these tips in mind no matter what you choose to do. The failure rate in this landscape is very high. I attribute that fact to so many people coming into online business with unrealistic expectations and without laying a solid foundation on proven business principles.
Others with experience are here to assist you, but they can’t make decisions for you. Every business is unique and different. I hope you will decide right now to apply yourself as if you were totally and fully responsible for everything you do in business. If you apply the correct principles, put in a great amount of effort, stay focused over time, and always serve your audience with high quality advice and products, you will have a chance to make it in online marketing.
To your online business success,