You’ve probably seen the YouTube videos and Facebook ads that claim you can make ‘six figures’ and quit your job by starting an online business. But is it that easy? Absolutely not. However, it is 100% possible. Here’s how to build an online business that succeeds.
Six things you need to know when building an online business
It’s not easy
Despite what those YouTube ads say, running an online business is not easy and it isn’t for everyone. Did you know that around 90% of online businesses fail within the first four months?
Yes, hard work and perseverance are important but these factors are two small pieces of a much larger puzzle. Start up money, a good business idea, and a solid monetisation and marketing strategy are also integral to your success.
Destroy the idea that you can build an empire by working two hours a day and spending the rest of your time on a beach. You can’t. You’ll need a thorough action plan, and time and effort to succeed.
All ideas do not work well as online businesses
Another misconception that’s rife in the online business world is that any idea can be turned into an online business – if you run enough Facebook ads. This is complete BS.
Some services need to be delivered in person and trying to make these services digital is a bad idea. For example, we’ve seen physiotherapists, chiropractors and energy healers trying to deliver their services online through videos. And they’ve failed because the majority of their customers wanted a hands-on service not a DIY video alternative.
Another misconception that’s rife in the online business world is that any idea can be turned into an online business – if you run enough Facebook ads. The reality is that this is complete BS.
You need to solve your customer’s problem
You may have been told to “Do what you love and the money will come”, but you shouldn’t take this too literally when it comes to building an online business. Just as some ideas don’t work well online because of practical reasons, others don’t work because no one wants them. Sorry!
If you’ve already launched an online business and you’re struggling to sell anything, it’s worth reviewing what you’re selling. Does your product or service solve a real problem – a problem that keeps your target client awake at night? Or are you just selling something you enjoy making or doing, even though it doesn’t solve a burning problem?
For example, we recently came across a coach targeting teenagers who want to be more productive.
She had been trying to sell her £3000 online course for 9 months and hadn’t made a single sale. Because she was so passionate about eliminating apathy in teenagers, she had overlooked a glaring problem: few teenagers have thousands of dollars to spend on an online programme. And while teenagers are notoriously unproductive, few consider this a problem that needs to be urgently fixed.
If she has created a service for parents worried about their teenager’s apathy, she may have had more luck.
You need money to get started
It’s often said that all you need to start an online business is a laptop and wi-fi. But speak to anyone who has successfully built an online business and you’ll discover that you also need money to get started. From website hosting packages to email delivery systems, online accounting software, marketing solutions and social media adverts – it all costs money. And even when you do get paying clients, you’ll need to pay for digital invoicing and payment processing tools before collecting a penny from them.
If you’re smart about things and adopt a bootstrapping mentality, you can keep your costs down to a few hundred pounds, but it’s also possible to spend thousands on the different tools you need to support your online business.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to fund your business yourself. Take a look at this article on how to start a business with none of your own money for ideas.
It’s often said that all you need to start an online business is a laptop and wi-fi. But speak to anyone who has successfully built an online business and you’ll discover that you need money to get started.
Hiring an online business coach does not guarantee success
There are two types of people in this world:
- those who don’t know what they’re doing and are happy to make it up as they go along
- those who don’t know what they’re doing and prefer to ask for help
If you fall into the latter camp, you’ll find that there are lots and lots of online business coaches who are ready to help you out. And such coaches can be great – if they’re open, honest and aware of their limitations. The problem is that it’s not always easy to tell if you’ve signed up with a coach who has your best interests at heart or if you’ve just given your life savings to someone who has no business knowledge and can’t really help you.
Always remember that a brand new coach with no business experience is likely to be poorly equipped to help you move your business past a very early stage – no matter how nice a person they are. They are also unlikely to be able to give you solid advice if you decide to take your business in a direction that differs from theirs.
It’s not always easy to tell if you’ve signed up with a coach who has your best interests at heart or if you’ve just given your life savings to someone who has no business knowledge and can’t really help you.
If you do decide to work with a new business coach, make sure the amount of money you’re paying them reflects their level of knowledge and experience. We’ve seen brand new coaches bold enough to ask for thousands of pounds to deliver a programme they cooked up in their bedrooms and released to the world without trying it out.
And if you decide to work with a coach with an established online business, make sure you check how up to date their industry knowledge is.
Old coaches often got started when Facebook ads were dirt cheap, social media algorithms were straightforward and the general online industry was less saturated. As such, the techniques that worked for them may no longer work. If you don’t catch this at an early stage, you may get caught in a trap of unknowingly executing out of date strategies and blaming yourself when they don’t work.
It’s going to take time
The final myth about online businesses that’s likely to negatively affect you is the belief that you will be profitable within a month or two. There are a few exceptional businesses that have managed to do this, but the vast majority can take at one to three years to turn a profit.
If you have unreasonable expectations, you’re more likely to quit early believing that you’ve failed, when the reality is that you’re right on track for business success… you just need to hang in there a little longer.
You can avoid the temptation to give up too early by speaking with other online business owners in your niche. Ask them how long it took them to start making money and you’re likely to discover few were overnight successes.
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