What to Know Before You Start an Internet-Based Business
As the whole world comes to a standstill in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, I predict that we will see an influx of online businesses started in the next few months. People are spending more time at home with time off of work and have been instructed to not leave as much as possible. It’s the perfect mix of ingredients for pursuing personal creative expression. The “right time” that most people wait for to follow their passions has fallen in their laps.
So, with this new time on your hands, you can finally start that thing that you’ve been putting off for years. If you’ve ever wanted to start your own business, you can do it right now from the comfort of your own home with just a laptop and an internet connection.
Before you dive head first into the word of online business, there are a few things you need to know. Thousands of people venture into the online space every year to start a virtual business, but the sad truth is most of those businesses fail quickly, if they really ever get started at all. You really can succeed online, but you need to take the proper steps to get there. Most of all, you need to understand why most online businesses fail and how you can follow the steps of those who are crushing it. Let’s dive in! Here are the keys to success you must follow before you start your online business.
1. Demand Do people actually want what you have to offer?
Some people jump into starting an online business and may have everything in place to make it work, but nobody buys. Sadly, this happens quite often. Before you decide to start an online business, you need to first determine if the idea is solid – if you are meeting a real need for someone. A great resource for testing your business idea before you go all in is Pat Flynn’s book, Will It Fly. Pat is one of the most successful online entrepreneurs in the world and his book walks you through the necessary steps to make sure your idea will actually be successful. You could also just ask. Put out a poll on your personal social media pages and get some real feedback. Ask friends and family for honest opinions. Search online to see if there are other businesses already doing it well. Most of all remember, if someone else is already succeeding at your idea, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue it. It just means it already works!
2. User Experience
So, you have a solid idea. Now you need to make sure that people can get it easily. This means you need to have a solid platform online. A good online “platform” is centered around a user-friendly website that is attractively designed, easy to navigate and helpful to the visitor. When someone comes to your website to buy your product or service, they need to know what to do and where to go. As simple as this sounds, most business websites don’t work well at all. They confuse people with unclear messaging and they are difficult to navigate. Make your website easy to use, and free of clutter. Don’t talk about yourself unless it will directly help the customer. Instead, talk about your customers and how you help them. Give them as few steps as possible to buy your product.
The most successful online businesses provide value consistently, day after day, week after week, and month after month. Most people start an online business with lots of momentum in the beginning, but fizzle out quickly and their website becomes a ghost town. However you decide to provide value, whether it’s through blogging, email, video, or social media interaction, you need to create a schedule and stick to it for a while. How long is a while? About 2 years.
The internet is chock full of personalities, influencers, and experts. Many of them are genuine and their main goal is truly to help others. However, there are far too many people online who put up a front. They show you what they want you to see. They create personas, fabricate an identity of massive success, and smooth talk their way into your wallet. If you are going to start an online business and start inviting people to get to know you, just be real. Be yourself. Be genuine. As you grow in popularity any false persona you create will become harder and harder to hide behind. Be real from the beginning.
Starting an online business requires a lot of work up front, but if done correctly, it can run on autopilot to a degree. However, instead of letting it run in the background as just a tool to make money, be willing to invest your time into it. What I mean by this is to show up online where your customers are, like your social media pages and on your email list, and be available to them. The best way you can be generous, especially in the beginning, is with your time. Talk to your audience. Show them you care. Give away your advice and knowledge. One of the best methods for building an audience online is to offer something for free in exchange for someone’s information, like an email address. Give away something genuinely valuable and people will listen to you, buy from you, and tell their friends about you.
One of the most common ways online businesses fail is a lack of marketing. Believe it or not, just building a great website and offering your amazing product or service doesn’t mean people will actually visit your site or buy your offering. They need to know you exist and that you have something they need to make their lives better. That means you need to show where they hang out and get their attention… without spamming them. How do you do that? By providing real value. This is why we always recommend a business to have a blog. It’s a time-tested method of providing real value to your audience and letting them know you;re the expert. The great thing about a blog is that, if written and published correctly, it does a ton of marketing for you with SEO. Search engine optimization helps Google find your content and recommend you to searchers. People searching for what you offer will visit your site if Google recommends you. That’s why the best marketing is always through the channel of providing great value to people. You can do the same thing with video on YouTube. YouTube is actually the second largest search engine in the world, behind Google.
Of course, you can also run ads on social media sites or use pay-per-click advertising, but my recommendation is to utilize the organic, value-based methods most often.
Are you thinking of starting an online business? Do you already have an idea, but need to build an online presence around it? Let us know. At Dock Line, we have tons of resources for starting an online business, whether you want to build it all yourself or have a web design agency help you. If you’d like more information or to get access to our “Starting an Online Business” resources, visit www.thedockline.com or email us at [email protected]
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