How to Build a Successful Online Business
David, a friend of mine, built a successful online business that allows him to work from home. His business, Pursuit Zone LLC, serves a niche market – the fun and entertainment center industry. Although he says the business required a LOT of work to get going; it has allowed him to work from home on his small ranch for the last eight years. Prior to starting his Pursuit Zone, he worked in the laser tag industry. Now days, he knows just as much about marketing and how to build a successful online business as he knows about laser tag, mechanical bulls and an assortment of other fun center equipment.
Last fall, David was able to go on a “vacation” for two weeks without causing his business to come to a screeching halt. He simply packed up his laptop and took his online business with him. He was able to serve his customers from Tennessee just as well as he would have if he was at his home office in Colorado.
After observing how David’s online business worked, I decided to start my own online business. Although I have spent the majority of my career working in the business field as a Certified Public Accountant and as a real estate broker, I knew very little about setting up a website from scratch and running an online businesses. If you are considering an online business, hopefully the following tips will be useful. The tips combine things that I’ve learned from my personal journey into the online business world along and advise that applies to every business owner.
Question: It is not that hard to set up your own website and online business. Do you want to invest the time and do it yourself so that you have the most control and can make changes as needed?
If you want to pay someone to build a website for you, skip down to Tip #3. If you want to take the time to learn how to do it yourself, read on. I choose to learn how to build the business myself because I enjoy learning new things. It also cost a lot less cash upfront to do it myself.
David, the owner of Pursuit Zone, received a lot of his training through the OMG Machines (One Man Gang) training program. So last November, I looked into OMG Machines. I respect Bob Proctor a lot and he recommends their training program. HOWEVER, at $7,999, that program costs more than I can afford. I am unwilling to “finance” it like David did. OMG Machines does not have a “normal” website that I can find that will allow you to read about the different things they offer, so this is the best link that I could find about their upcoming training program, OMG’s No-Holds-Barred Mastermind for 2017: Project Treasure Map. If you get on their email list, OMG Machines will send you the information you need.
Instead, I decided to join a training program called Wealthy Affiliate (WA). Not only were the costs for the WA training a lot cheaper up front, I felt like the WA membership offered a lot more services than just training. It includes the training, a platform to build your website, website hosting and a supportive online business community. Wealthy Affiliate’s primary focus is on affiliate marketing and creating quality content. The fundamentals that are being taught apply to any online business. Most importantly, WA is geared towards helping beginners even if they have never built a website. After the free trial period and first month discount, WA costs $49 a month with no contract required. Hmmm $7,999 or $49 a month? For me that was an easy decision.
TIP #1: IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO BUILD A HOME BASED ONLINE BUSINESS OR AN AFFILIATE MARKETING BUSINESS, FIND A COMPREHENSIVE TRAINING PROGRAM THAT WILL GUIDE YOU STEP BY STEP.
I realize, you may be able to piece together the information by reading various blogs and watching free videos. However, finding the relevant information and figuring out what your are looking for will take time. That in turn will prolong achieving the finacial profit that you are hoping to achieve.
As result, I chose the WA training program. The primary training program within WA is a step by step “certification course.” They also have a “Affiliate Marketing Boot Camp” and a ton of other training that is constantly being added to. The training guides you through the process of building a WordPress website on for your online business.
So, I started with the certification course which is broken down into different modules. The training modules normally include something to read, a video to watch and some action items to complete. Members are allowed to go back and repeat the lessons as many times as you want. In my case, I am working through the different modules slowly. I have also opted to repeat lessons some of the lessons multiple times.
TIP #2: USE COMMON SENSE! DO NOT FALL FOR PROMISES TO GET RICH QUICK .
IT TAKE TIME AND LOTS OF WORK AND A WILLINGNESS TO KEEP LEARNING AND ADAPTING TO BUILD A SUCCESSFUL, SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS.
My online business model involves owning a portfolio of websites. Maybe I should be embarrassed to admit this. I had to repeat the lesson that explained how to point the name server from GoDaddy to Wealthy Affiliate’s hosting multiple times. I have finally reached the point that I do not have to refer to the training every time that I want to pointed the name server. Five months ago, I didn’t even know what a name server was or what it was used for. Learning this has allowed me to save a lot of money since I no longer need to pay an IT person to do simple, one time tasks like that.
As I have gained experience building my online business, I also discovered that I may have rushed through some of the training. The first time that I read some of the trainings or watched the videos, I didn’t fully comprehend the importance of what I was being told to do. After repeating some of the lessons, I have been able to better appreciate the importance of many of the steps.
For example, early on in the training, the owner of WA, Kyle, instructs us to visit successful websites and blogs that already exist in the niche that we want to work in. He tells us that the websites will provide an example of how we might want to lay out our websites. He also said that they would be a good source of inspiration. We are instructed to NOT copy. We are instructed to get inspired.
TIP #3: GET INSPIRATION FROM THE WEBSITES BELONGING TO SUCCESSFUL ONLINE BUSINESSES AND THEIR OWNERS
The first time that I worked through that particular lesson, I quickly scanned some other people’s websites. I was rushing to get my own website up and running. Once I went back and repeated the lesson that included that task, I realized the value in gaining inspiration from other successful people with online businesses and their websites. Now, I try to devote a little bit of time everyday studying websites and successful people.
In doing so, I’ve explored a number of blogs that belong to successful affiliate marketers and online entrepreneurs. Many of the MOST successful people taking about going going to industry related conferences and trade expos. They explained that attending conferences contributes to their subject matter knowledge. It also allows them to meet “influencers” in the field.
TIP #4: A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER SHOULD STRIVE TO ALWAYS BE LEARNING
I spent the majority of my life as a Certified Public Accountant and as a real estate broker. In both cases, a state license is required. In order to renew the license, each state requires licensees to take continuing education courses each licensing period. Self employeed people that are not working in a regulated field will not have someone mandating continuing education.
You may not be mandated to continue your education. However, there is a lot of value in continuing your education in both your niche and in business in general. You need to make time to be continually learning. This will help you understand your customers needs and desires. It will help you keep up with newest trends. Continuing your education will help you better understand how to effectively run a business. Both formal and informal continuing education contributes to your becoming an expert in your field.
In fact, I recently wrote a post about a YouTube video called Billionaire Motivation. Warren Buffest was one of the people featured. He said that he spends about 5 hours each day reading. He believes in the importance of continuing to learn and staying updated.
TIP #5: BECOME AN EXPERT IN YOUR NICHE
When I was visiting the websites of different highly successful affiliate marketer for inspiration; I stumbled upon one that belonged to a guy had a niche website that did computer related reviews. (I need to go back and find the website and his name so I can share it. The day that I visited his website, I didn’t think to write it down.). Since I have a laptop shop in my online portfolio, I read his blog with great interest.
To summarize, this affiliate marketer worked to be THE leading expert in his niche. This guy wanted to be the very best resource for potential online computer shoppers that he could be. He attended conferences and trade shows. These events allowed him to network with other influencers and people working in the field. He met vendors and he learned about the latest technology on the market.
His story left me awed and humbled. He worked to position himself an expert in his field. On the other hand , I was simply someone with $15 domain name and a website is one one among thousands of others that talk about computers and laptops. I am not passionate about laptops or computers like he is. As result, my laptop shop website will never be a successful online business like his because I am unwilling to invest the time to become an expert in that area.
TIP #6: CHOOSE AN ONLINE BUSINESS NICHE THAT YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT
PEOPLE THAT ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT THEIR ONLINE BUSINESS WILL ALMOST ALWAYS HAVE AN ADVANTAGE OVER PEOPLE THAT CHOOSE A BUSINESS BECAUSE OF ITS PROFIT POTENTIAL.
Over the years, I have met people that operate a business that they do not enjoy. They have no passion or enthusiasm for the business. Everyday the owner gets up and goes to work. The owner feels like many employees feel. “It is the same old routine each day. Get up, go to work, go home. Then the next day, it starts all over again. Personally, I’ve never wanted to live that kind of existence. That does not fit my definition of success.
I encourage you to start a business that you will be passionate about. If not, stay employed. Don’t burden yourself with the extra challenges that come along with self employment.
The following is an excerpt about the importance of passion from Dave Ramsey’s book, EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches
“Passion causes things to move, and passion creates a force multiplier. Passion actually covers a multitude of sins…. When you and your team really care about what you are doing, the natural by-products are quality, excellence, impressed customers, employees who become team members, and ultimately a higher likelihood of profit.”
TIP #7: PROVIDE YOUR PROSPECTIVE CUSTOMERS VALUE THAT THEY CAN NOT FIND ANYWHERE ELSE.
In order to create a successful online business, you need to know:
1) Who your potential customers are.
2) What are their needs and desires.
3) What unmet need are your filling?
In other words, what value will your business provide? I like this example that Jay Baer, “The Worlds Most Inspirational Marketing and Customer Service Speaker,” used:
It’s like, ‘Hey I like knitting, and I’m going to start a knitting blog.’ Really! There are 27 other knitting blogs. Why would anybody read yours? What is different? What is unique? What is interesting? Why would anyone stop reading the knitting blog that they’ve been reading for the last three years and read yours ever?
And if you can’t articulate that, you need to go back to the drawing board. And most people I find who haven’t been doing this for a while just don’t go through that competitive calculus, and it’s dangerous.
If you want a successful online business, serve your website visitors in a unique way. Prepare and adopt a value proposition for your online business. Peep Laja, founder of CXL Institute, describes the value proposition as:
A clear statement that:
-Explains how your product solves customers’ problems or improves their situation (relevancy),
-Delivers specific benefits (quantified value),
-Tells the ideal customer why they should buy from you and not from the competition (unique differentiation).
THE PROCESS OF BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL ONLINE BUSINESS IS A JOURNEY. IT IS NOT A DESTINATION.
Building a successful online business from scratch requires time, a lot of work and the the ability to focus on the customers needs. For better or worse, the world is constantly changing so a business owner also needs to be willing to continually learn new things and adapt as necessary.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
About the author:
Sondra loves to help potential small business owners turn their dreams into reality by providing encouragement and a realistic analysis of the situation. In order to do so, she draws upon 20 years of diverse experience that has included titles such internal auditor, special projects auditor, CPA, business coordinator, finance coordinator, real estate broker, small business owner, farmer and online entrepreneur. By the way, Sondra thinks that hogs, as in the kind that go oink oink, are cute.