I spent about 10 years working at a few corporate jobs that led me to nowhere close to my dream lifestyle. And just in one year since starting my online business, I was able to quit my day job. And went to make about $350k/year by the end of the 4th year in business. It’s not a multi-million business just yet but it’s an income level which I could Never and I will stress this I would NEVER reach at my day job. And since I’ve gone through this very recently, I want to share with you today the 7 steps you should take to start your own online business the right way.
If you think that to start an online business you have to invest a ton of money up front or that you HAVE to quit your day job right away, you are wrong in both assumptions.
I started in 2017 while working at my day job full time, and I quit my job about 11 months later when my online income was at about the same level as my day job salary. Honestly, I could continue doing my online business on the side but I wanted to accelerate my growth and generally get back to the normal life/ work balance.
Because of course working at a full-time job, spending about 2 hours a day in commute and you will see that I was spending at least 11 hours every day except weekends doing what wasn’t really satisfying nor promising in terms of future income potential.
And I started with a whopping investment of about $3 a month for my website hosting. If you can afford that, you can start an online business and make money from wherever you are in the world.
I can tell you honestly that my family was so blessed with this online business that we are running together. I spent about 10 years working at a few corporate jobs that led me to nowhere closer to my dream lifestyle.
We now have a baby at home and I would be terrified if I had to send her to a nursery school at the age of about 4 or 5 months in the middle of the Pandemic. I could tell you all things about laptop lifestyle and working from a beach. But for us right now what is important is a very basic desire to simply spend more time with the baby, and have flexible working hours adjustable to the baby’s schedule.
And you know what I think? Maybe not EVERYONE… but about 80% of people CAN run some kind of business online. And you don’t want to miss the opportunities that Internet gives us to start a business on a very low budget and often basically without any upfront financial investment.
If you are someone who never had any business at all, this post is for you! Or if you already have an offline business but you feel like there is a shift towards the online platforms, and you don’t want to be left behind the global trend, then this post is for you too!
I want to give you the steps you need to make when starting an online business. They are absolutely essential in my opinion and if you want to make sure you follow all of them, stay with me until the end of this post because I’ll give you a link to a Checklist that will help you stay on track with every step we’ll be talking about today.
1. Make a list of your skills that you can start monetizing right away
If you don’t have any skills you think can be monetized, then I recommend you to make a list of your passions and hobbies or even things you’d like to learn. A lot of successful businesses started from just a hobby.
Give yourself 20 or 30 minutes and brainstorm your ideas. Just put everything out of your mind on a piece of paper. Don’t try to evaluate any of these ideas just yet. The next step is to narrow it down to your top three choices. Well, even if you don’t have the 3 ideas, even one really good idea is good enough to start with.
I can’t tell you what is the best idea for you because we are all different. But if you ask me what I think is the easiest way to start an online business – I would say start with something you can sell as a service to someone is the easiest. You don’t need a lot to start it – just position yourself as an expert in that area. It’s even possible to start without your own website if you’ll be selling services. You can use your social media profiles for this and find clients also on social media. For example, in Facebook groups where people are searching for solutions for their problems that you can help them solve.
2. Do Competitor Research
I strongly believe that NOT all of us have to be Elon Masks, change the planet or the entire Universe. A lot of businesses can be built around ideas and problems that were already solved and addressed by someone else. And your task here is to do your research on Google, Youtube, Facebook groups, online forums, and any other places online where you think your potential customers like hanging out. By doing this, you will find what are the strongest pain points of your ideal clients, but also will find who are your most successful competitors.
If someone is profitable doing or offering things similar to your business idea, that means there is a demand and you too have a chance to build a profitable online business around it.
3. Just start doing it
Don’t try to figure out everything in advance. In most cases, trying to learn everything about how an online business works is just a way to procrastinate and a form of imposter syndrome. I made a video on this topic if you feel like you are getting stuck mostly because you are constantly self-doubting:
A lot of experts would tell you to start an online business you need a business plan. But I can tell you honestly, I never had any business plan when I just started online. I just had a lot of motivation to quit my day job and while doing my online biz as a side hustle, I figured out what I like to do more, what I don’t enjoy, and what I would rather outsource or completely skip in my business.
Only by doing things I could find out what is more profitable, what are my strengths, and what I’m not good at. You can’t “business plan” all this in advance before you actually start doing it.
My advice is don’t even waste your time on business plans. If it helps you see some pointers to follow, just make a very simple list of goals you want to achieve. What are your financial goals in the short term, and in the long run? How do you want your business to change your lifestyle? Based on that big picture, you will always adjust and pivot your online business in the future.
4. Work on your Mindset
I told you that you don’t necessarily have to invest a ton of money when you start an online business but be prepared to invest your time and make up the time to grow your online business.
Don’t expect to see immediate results. I think we are all exposed to so many influencers these days and seems like they all have this explosive growth. And I see a lot of people get started and then give up like in a month.
How many times I’ve seen these types of comments or questions. I started my Pinterest account, created the boards, and saved the pins and nothing happened. This Pinterest doesn’t work! What a waste of time!
Then I ask them when did you start your account? The answer is 3 days ago. The platform probably didn’t even have time to collect the stats in your analytics to show you.
Then I ask them to show me the profile they worked on so hard. I check the profile and it has no verified website, 5 boards not optimized for keywords at all, and 3 pins saved on each board. Ok, that was a lot of work indeed. With this attitude and expectations of “working” for 10 minutes a day and becoming an online celebrity in 3 days, you can’t go far. Definitely need to work on your mindset.
Seriously, some people expect to make millions or see millions of likes or whatever, in days or weeks of starting an online business. Hey, I hate to be nay-sayer but viral and explosive growth online is exceptional.
Some – few – people just get lucky.
But even they have to work hard to maintain their growth at the same pace. And the majority of people who start online just need to be patient and consistent and the success will come.
5. Focus on one platform at a time, and build a community around yourself.
In the online world, there is always the next shiny object that seems to be an easy path to explosive growth.
And while FOMO-ing about the next shiny object, people tend to spread too thin, try all things at once, and see no real growth on any platform.
What will help you see the results is focus on one platform that you enjoy most. It can be your blog, a Youtube channel, a Pinterest account, Instagram, or maybe a podcast.
Whatever you choose, is up to you. But focus on one main platform, at least when you are starting online. If you try to be everywhere, you’ll end up being one week on Youtube and then coming back to create your new video 3 months later, in the meantime, you’ll be trying to post on Instagram once a day and launch your podcast which you will start and make 4 episodes and then get back to your podcast audience a year later. So it’s not going to work.
What you can do instead is focus on one platform and probably share the content from your main platform across the other social media sites but if you try to create original content for multiple platforms, you will be growing slow on all of them.
6. Start an Email List
You probably heard about the importance of your emails list from so many people. And the reason I included this as one of the steps you need to take when starting and online business, is because you most probably are going to ignore what so many people told you… well, I did it when I started and my email list didn’t grow for at least the first 8 months since I started my website.
I thought it would take my time and focus away from creating content so I kept delaying it. In reality, I was making a huge mistake. I should not publish any content until I had my email list set up and at least a few lead magnets created so that all the content I was working on could actually help me build the foundation of my online business.
It doesn’t matter if your business is a blog or an eCommerce site – you always need to collect emails to be able to reach out to your audience more than once. If you don’t, you are attracting people to your content and chances are even if they like your content or your eCommerce website, they will never get back to your site because there is an ocean of other shops and blogs on the Internet.
Plus, as you maybe know, if your audience is only on some kind of social media platform, there is always a risk of you losing all that audience. Accounts on social media get suspended, blocked or penalized – it’s not only happening to the bad guys and spammers. Sometimes legit businesses get caught into the trenches of algorithm changes or spam filters and the only asset you really own is your email list.
7. Setup Payment Methods
This step is just a technical thing – you need to collect payments from your customers. But I thought it was important to mention this step because depending on where you live you might have limited options. I believe that PayPal as a payment method is currently available everywhere in the world and Stripe which allows you to collect payments through credit cards, becomes more common but it still has quite a big list of countries where it’s not available for sellers and service providers.
Just check what is available in your country and if you have PayPal and Stripe, usually these two will cover most of the needs of your potential customers around the world.
Ok now that we’ve gone through all the 7 steps I wanted to recommend you, I hope you found them useful. And you can start implementing what you’ve learned today. Just download this checklist that includes all the steps and start documenting how you follow the process of launching your online business.
I don’t know which type of online business you are looking to start but I thought it’s also a good time to remind you about a great opportunity you have in the online course market. If you have some knowledge or skill you could teach others and if you want to build a profitable business around it, I have an 8-Week Accelerator program for aspiring course creators where I teach you how to build and sell online courses not only with great profits but also in a stress-free way while automating most of the marketing and sales processes.
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