10 Steps To Start A Business Online
Is there a formula for success? While there may not be an exact formula, but there is very often a similar pattern. It goes something like this:
- Find a need/ solve a problem/ satisfy a desire.
- Write good sales copy.
- Set up a simple, easy to use website.
- Drive traffic to your website.
- Be helpful, provide value and establish yourself as an expert in your niche
- Build lasting relationships with your customers using an email newsletter.
- Create new products and upsell new and existing customers.
- Delegate/ outsource your weak-points and time consuming, monotonous tasks.
- Be creative and innovate.
- Know when to move on, and when to never give up.
This article will be broken up into 10 different parts to give each separate point a more depth look. Over time, this as new ideas and things that may be helpful here. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section and I will consider adding them where appropriate.
Let’s start with #1.
Find A Need/ Solve A Problem/ Satisfy a Desire
To create a product, and THEN find the market? OR To find the market, and then create the product based on that? Ding!
Why create a product and then look for a market for it when you can start by looking at the market and figure out what problems people are already having? Who will use your product, how, and why?
Keeping Track of Your Ideas
Inspiration comes in many ways- and often at the most random times even when you’re not looking for it. You could be brushing your teeth, sitting in traffic, or binge watching Netflix. You’re not going to crawl in a cave and sit there until you come up with the perfect idea. If you do, you’ll never get out. So before I go over ways in which I found helpful in coming up with new ideas, here’s a few tools to help you with keeping track of your ideas when they come to you from out of the blue.
Keep your phone on you to note ideas as they come to you throughout the day. Apps like Google’s Keep, Evernote, Simplenote, and Notability are all great tools to keep track of your ideas. Sometimes you can just snap a quick picture of something to remember an idea. Apps like AudioNote or OneNote can help you keep track of ideas if you prefer to speak into your phone.
Use the internet. Get good at using the internet. Take a class on using the internet. It will make your life exponentially easier. That said, here’s a few resources to start with as far as coming up with ideas:
Use Google’s Keyword Tool
This is a really cool tool that shows you what keywords people are searching for on the internet. It provides information on search volume like how many searches per month/ year, competition, demographics i.e. what people are searching specifically in your area.
Lots of power here! You’ll need a Google Adwords account to use this tool, even if you don’t plan on using it to advertise. There are other free resources out there like Keyword Tool if you prefer not to sign up for an Adwords account. Look for keywords/ phrases with high search volume and low competition. We’ll go into more detail on this tool in Part 4: Drive Traffic To Your Website. There are tons of gurus and information out there in this topic. Forbes has a good article on 15 SEO Gurus That You Should Know.
Blogs, Forums, Social Media
Visit online blogs, forums, and social communities in your niche and see what people are talking about. What questions do they have? What problems are they trying to solve? Reddit is a great place to browse forums, although I’m not a huge fan of the user interface. Facebook Groups, Meetup, Yahoo Groups, are some other online social communities where you can find common interest groups. Live Out is a growing community as well.
Walk around the mall and observe what people are checking out. Ask retailers what’s popping off the shelves. What kinds of products are front and center? How are they displayed? Look for common themes as well at outliers.
Scope Out The Competition
Once you dial in on a product or service, do in-depth research on competitors in this space and see what they’re doing. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel here! If someone’s been in this business for years, chances are they’ve had to learn the hard way what works and what doesn’t. Look at features, functionality, price, popularity and especially at their website. How is it set up? Note the design, content, copy, sales funnel, price points, etc.
You can even use tools like WordPress Theme Detector to figure out what theme they’re using (if it’s a WordPress site) and if you really really wanted you could purchase the exact same one from somewhere like Themeforest and just modify it to fit your brand. Seriously. People do it all the time. It’s smart.
Ask yourself how could you do it better, or different? What is your USP, or Unique Selling Point (a.k.a. Unique Value Proposition). Find your place in the marketplace and carve out a niche.
Look For “Sleeping Dinosaurs”
Sometimes all that is needed for the next million dollar idea is one simple revision to an already existing product that people use every day. This type of idea is what’s known as a “sleeping dinosaur.” I think of the Mission Belt.
Know Your Why
At the end of the day, it’s important to ask yourself why you want to start a business in the first place. And I don’t mean to make a boatload of money. Your why will help you get through the hard times. If it is just to make a boatload of money, ask yourself why, and then ask it again 7 times. At the end you might find your answer is different. “I want to make a boatload of money because I want to… be able to do what I want… live the life of my dreams… help my parents to retire… put my kids through college… help people… have a legacy… make an impact… You get the idea. Find your why. Try to find something that pulls you in every day, rather than something you feel like you’re being pushed into. Starting a business can be extremely tough, and there’s only so much willpower, so if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing you’ll give up at the first challenge or after the first failure. And you will fail, so just make sure you fail forward and learn something from it each time.
Even when you follow your passion, there will be days where you’ve got to do the undesirable work, your why will help you grind it out on those days so you can get back to the fun part. And remember, if you want to be successful you’ve got to be willing to do the shit that other people won’t do to have the shit that other people don’t have.
Most importantly, be creative, follow your passion, make progress each day and have fun with it! After all, it’s about the journey and who you become along the way that is most important. As John Lennon once said “life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans.” Don’t be so focused on the final result that you forget to look around every once in awhile and enjoy the ride.
Stay tuned and check out our blog for Part 2-10 on How to Start a Business Online. As always, feedback appreciated– feel free to leave your ideas in the comments and we can continue to add to each of the different posts to make this more useful to the next reader.
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