You’ve reached a point in your life where you are tired of a rigid schedule. The notion of being able to work more independently has been on your mind much more lately. Perhaps you have a friend or two who have started working at home in one way or another. At meetings, you’ve brought up telecommuting as a possible solution to lift morale. People are growing weary of long commutes for low wages. Not just that, but with technology being what it is now, work doesn’t end when you leave the office. Your phone is a constant buzz of alerts, emails and text messages. You get paid for 40 hours but work far more. It’s time to make a real change and start an online business.
On the technology front, the opportunities to work from home seem to be growing. You’ve kicked around the idea of starting your own business, but you aren’t sure of the ins and outs. How do you start? What do you need? Could it be the answer you’ve been searching for? If you’re interested in trying to start an online business, there are a few things you need to prepare for. If you do, it will increase the odds that you can quit your office job and set up shop anywhere you want. Below are six things you should be ready for when starting your business:
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- Find your skill set
- Create a website
- Set up a corporate name/account
- Spend a lot of time with little return
- Wait it out
- Deal with failure
Find Your Skill set to Start an Online Business
The very first step in creating an online business is knowing what your niche is. There are a few questions you can ask yourself in doing so:
What Can You Currently Offer?
Do you have a talent or skill you can share? What are your strengths in your current position? Are you good at mentoring others? How’s your typing speed? Make a list of skills you could market. Put everything and anything that comes to mind on this list. It’s important not to place limitations on the possibilities at the start.
Do You Have a Marketable Hobby?
In your spare time, do you build model airplanes, create watercolor paintings or crochet? Do you have a hobby that might be profitable, either in product sales or training others? Hobbies can turn into big money either through product transactions or instructional training.
Can You Educate Yourself?
Perhaps you do type fast; however, you’ve never done transcription. There are training courses out there that can help you build the skills required to take your expertise to the next level. You can then offer that newly-improved skill to the public.
What Kind of Money Can You Invest?
Can you invest in yourself to improve an existing skill? There are so many online classes through colleges and private businesses that there is bound to be something for every budget. Investing in yourself will never be a waste of money. If this venture doesn’t work out, your new knowledge can help build your resume.
The final question you need to answer in choosing a direction for your business is what need can you fill. There are always people looking for help from someone. From products to services, you have a myriad of choices. Take your time, do some research and honestly evaluate your skills. Once you’ve found your niche, you can move forward with your business plan.
Create Your Website to Start an Online Business
As soon as you land on your business plan, you should start a website. This will be your primary interface with customers, and the way you can sell your product(s). Even if you’ve never built a website before, many online tools can help make it easy. First up, you need to buy a domain name. Make it something catchy yet straightforward. If you can make it the name of your business, great. If not, make it easily relatable.
Once you get started, there are some essential elements to keep in mind:
- Choose a simple layout and design
- Have an email collection spot
- Make customer purchases seamless
The layout of your web page needs to be, above all else, clear, concise and easy to navigate. Your marketing, or copy, should be eye-catching, upbeat and professional. No one will purchase something from a page riddled with grammatical errors or typos. You also need to provide examples of your expertise and knowledge.
Make Your Business Official When you Start an Online Business
It’s essential to decide on a business structure for registration purposes. This means you need to look into the pros and cons of creating a limited liability company, corporation or sole proprietorship. The most straightforward structure is the sole proprietorship, as it doesn’t require much in the line of paperwork to start one. However, a sole proprietorship also doesn’t protect against personal liability. If the business gets sued, so too will you personally. Thus, opting for a limited liability company or incorporation might be the best route. Each type has specific filing and registration requirements. Do your research and if you still aren’t sure, speak to a professional.
Spend Loads of Time to Start an Online Business
You get what you put into something. That’s a motto you’ve heard and lived by practically your whole life. As a kid, maybe you picked up that extra paper route because you believed putting more time in made you more money. This is the same mindset you’ll need when you start an online business. You will be spending all your free time pouring yourself into getting the company formed, launched and thriving. The amount of time depends on what kind of product you’re selling. Keep in mind, to be a successful business owner, you have to focus a lot of time on:
Advertising and marketing
You have to be able to get the word out about what you’re offering. A great place to do so is through social media channels.
Offering some services or products for free is a great way to get people to come to your website. Say for instance you decide to start a how-to business around blogging. One way to drive business to your page is to offer a free eBook on the basics of blogging. People see the value in it, opt-in, and voila! You’ve now got their email addresses. Soon you can follow up, offer other paid services, etc.
Email bucketing and funneling
Along the same lines as above, once you get people signed up for your email list, you can sort them into what kind of products to offer them. There are programs you can purchase to do this automatically for you. Bucketing and funneling help with generating buzzworthy topics that will garner more clicks and therefore more possibilities for sales.
Regardless of how you go about handling your business, know that you will spend a lot of time on developing and running it, especially at the beginning. You most likely cannot quit your full-time job quite yet, so you’ll be pulling double duty for a while.
Be Patient When you Start an Online Business
Whether or not waiting is one of your strong suits, you have to know that patience is going to be crucial to the success of your business. Along with that comes persistence. Don’t be pushy with people but do be persistent. Make sure your emails are encouraging yet give potential customers a sense of urgency in buying your products or services. People need to know how your product or services can benefit them, and why they should pay you to do whatever it is you say you can do. One week you may think you have it figured out, your business is going to start paying for itself in no time, only to have it all come crashing in the next week with a bunch of unhappy customers. It is going to take time. Don’t rush the development of your business to get to the success too quickly. Your control is limited in that regard.
Deal With Failure
This is the final suggestion item to be prepared for because it happens. Not every successful business owner was successful the first, second or tenth time around. The difference between them and you? They kept going. Also, they didn’t look at failure as a defeat; they looked at it as an opportunity to learn. You will make mistakes, and you will fail in one aspect or another. It doesn’t’ mean you have to give up your dream to start an online business. It means you have to be fluid, ready to change and able to keep a positive attitude in the face of insurmountable odds. Whatever you do, be prepared for these setbacks and then be prepared to keep moving forward. You will only really fail if you never start or give up because it’s difficult.
When contemplating that idea to start an online business, there are many factors you need to be ready to handle. The internet is an infinite place, and there is an endless number of possibilities within it. Figuring out how to glean just a percentage of the revenue generated by companies on the internet has the chance to set you up for life. Being passionate about what you can offer, being smart and being persistent are the main ideas to keep in mind.