“I’m sorry…”, these are the last two words that your supervisor uttered as he told you to leave the company.
The experience is quite surreal. As you sit in your office chair and stare at the ceiling as you slowly take everything in, you couldn’t tell if what’s happening is real, or if everything is just a joke. You’ve been coming and going into your office for the last 20 years that it’s practically become your life.
Now that you’ve been let go, what exactly are you going to do? How are you going to pay your bills? Will you still be able to find a new job? All of these questions came rushing in your mind.
While you’re quite disappointed about what happened, you then start to realize something: Maybe what happened to you isn’t so bad after all.
I mean, you’ve been thinking about running an online business for quite some time now so you can spend more time with your family. Maybe it’s high time for you to do that.
Considering how you are jobless right now, there’s no better time for you to pull the trigger and take action on your dream.
The changes might be faint, but you can feel the grief and worries that you felt just seconds ago slowly transform into excitement.
Friends, if you’re at a point where you are truly serious about wanting to start an online business and you won’t let anything stop you from doing so, then I’m glad that you’re here reading this post.
I once was in the same boat myself, and it took me a lot of stumbling, studying, and experimenting before I figured out how to start a successful online business — or what its foundations are at least.
Instead of having you fall for the same frustrating, let alone costly mistakes that I fell for before, I’m going to share with you some of the things that I did right, that drastically contributed in helping me establish my online business.
1. Find a problem to solve.
“Taking the time to find out what problems in the world you are passionate about solving is the key. In my view, life is just too short to build things that don’t make the world better.” – Ryan Allis, Co-Founder of Hive.org
I know that a lot of people will tell you to create an online business based on something that you love doing/creating. After all, if you aren’t passionate about your business, you’ll only get burned out in no time since you don’t enjoy what you’re doing.
I totally get where they’re coming from.
However, you need to remember that you are not the buyers of your products, that’s what your customers do. And if your hobby doesn’t have a huge enough customer base that you can sell to, then your business doesn’t have longevity to it.
Why don’t you do this instead? In addition to only doing the things that you love, why don’t you look for problems that you know a lot of people are struggling with as well? You then think of an overlap between the two and create your business off of that.
That way, you’ll have fun running or starting your business, all while having a large and passionate enough customer base to sell to.
Ryan Allis published an article at StartupGuide.com about “How to Solve Big Problems”. The way he broke down the value and the how-tos of solving problems is a good read for those who want to start an online business.
2. Create a problem-solving product. One that provides real value.
The product creation process doesn’t have to be rocket science. There are strategies that you can follow to ensure (somewhat) that the product you’ll end up developing is something that your audience would love.
The first question I ultimately end up asking myself is, “What are the problems that my audience are facing?” I then use the answers to this question as the guiding compass to my product design. If the features that my team or I am thinking of adding doesn’t directly (or indirectly) answer this question, then we’d think twice about adding the feature.
While there are several methods that you can use to go about uncovering the problems that your audience are facing, I’m a huge fan of using Q&A sites.
Take Quora.com for example.
All you need to do is type in the keywords that are relevant to your industry; Quora will then bring back the questions that their users have been asking about the topic.
I’ll use the keyword phrase, “Make Money Online” as an example.
You will then be taken to this page after you click the “Search” dropdown option.
This is what comes up when you click the “Questions” option.
As you can see, the people in this niche are keen on learning the easiest ways to make money online. We know this to be true because the question has about 7k follows.
Another thing that we can learn is how the audience is interested in finding out whether it’s safe to earn online, and they also want to know about the best courses to learn about how to make money online.
The site is value-packed, isn’t it?
Just from the information that we’ve obtained at this point, we can somehow hypothesize that creating an informational product — like an online course — that talks about the easiest ways to make money online seems like a good product to consider.
3. Create a professionally designed website.
Just last night, my church friend couldn’t stop sharing how amazing the food was at the Thai restaurant that he dined in. He seemed pleased with the place since he kept on telling everyone about it.
The restaurant started to pique my interest because I found my friend’s reaction to be quite something. I mean, he’s a really shy guy, how is it that he’s now approaching whoever he meets telling them about the restaurant?
When the clock struck 8 PM, I started making my way towards the place. It’s just two blocks away from where I was so I got there in no time.
As I drew near the second block, I couldn’t help but be attracted to the strong, yet mouth-watering smell that was coming from the restaurant itself.
The excitement I felt started to intensify. I couldn’t wait to see the kind of food that they were serving, let alone devour it.
As I went to the restaurant, however, I was in for a huge surprise.
Not only were there flies buzzing around, but the whole place looked very poorly maintained. A portion of the walls had water stains, the paint on the tables and chairs looked worn out, and their concrete floor had cracks — huge ones at that.
I was turned off. I figured that if they’re cutting corners on their establishment’s maintenance, they might also be cutting corners on their food’s cleanliness and safety.
Of course, everything ended with me leaving the place without ordering anything.
Why on earth am I talking about my experience with the Thai restaurant, you might ask?
Well, that’s because your online business can be the restaurant that we talked about — or not.
The choice is yours.
Know that if you don’t give your website its due importance and only settle for something that looks crappy, you are bound to lose a lot of customers.
If you want your customers to take you seriously, you need to look the part.
The good news is, you don’t have to spend bazillions of dollars just to have a professional website created for you. There are several highly skilled web developers nowadays who can create your website with an hourly rate of only $ 30. I say “only” because there are those who will charge you twice or thrice as much.
I know that there are those who charge hourly rates that are way lower than the figure I mentioned, however, most of the people I worked with that were charging such meager rates tend to produce terrible results.
4. Publish copy that sells.
While your website’s aesthetics play a huge part in conveying the message that highly skilled professionals run your business, what ultimately compels your audience to buy your services is your website’s copy.
Imagine the salespeople handing out fliers in malls. When you examine their appearance, you’ll soon find out that they look very professional and clean. Just because they look that way, you’d even feel comfortable walking up to them asking about whatever it is that they are selling.
However, even if you’re open to purchasing whatever they’re offering, there’s a good chance that you’ll walk away without having bought anything if they are not equipped with the skills to influence you to buy their products.
If they talk to you, however, asking about how they can help you, what you’re looking for, or sharing with their suggestions on the best possible product that would fit your circumstances, you’ll most likely end up buying what the salesperson is offering.
The same thing applies to your websites. If they’re on your site yet they don’t see a good enough copy trying to “accommodate” them, then they’ll most likely just click away. After all, you may look credible and all that, but if they aren’t 100% convinced to buy your product (just because you didn’t convince them or you did such a crappy job of doing so), then they’ll never buy from you.
5. Use a reliable hosting company.
You need to realize that having a fantastic product and a professionally designed website is one thing, but making sure that your visitors can see you is another.
Imagine owning a coffee shop and winning over the hearts of thousands of prospect customers in your local area.
As your customers flock to your place to buy your coffee, they are greeted with the sign, “Sorry. We’re Closed for Maintenance.”
How on earth do you think they would feel at that point?
If that happened once, then it might be excusable since they would think that it’s an isolated case. However, if they are greeted with the same sign 4 – 5 times more, then they’ll think of you as unreliable. Your customers will think twice about going to your coffee shop because you might be closed again.
In your online business’s case, you need to have a reliable hosting company that wouldn’t give you downtimes. Period.
When your customers think about visiting your business website, they should feel confident that you are there, waiting to service them. They should never have to ask themselves, “I wonder if thenameofyourbusiness.com is up right now, or if it’s under maintenance?”
With how cutthroat the competition is nowadays, you’ll never stand a chance against your competitors if your website keeps on going down for maintenance.
While there are several hosting companies claiming to be the best in what they do, I need you to be very careful with who to go for as your hosting provider. I remember doing my due diligence in the past by checking out several online reviews to learn which hosting companies are giving the best service. The review that HostingFacts.com published is particularly useful for me because they didn’t just sign-up with 27 hosting providers to have a clear idea of what each has to offer, they even took the time to monitor each provider’s performance actively.
6. Formulate a client acquisition method that you think would work best for your industry, and stick to it.
There are going to be naysayers who will stop you from running an online business because the industry is already too crowded.
Don’t let them get to you. The last thing you want to do is to let someone who hasn’t even tried their hand in the industry dictate whether you’ll be a success or a failure.
Look. You are different from them, OK? You’re the kind of guy (or girl) who isn’t scared to make your dreams happen no matter how others try to discourage you.
You have a conqueror’s blood in you that not many people possess.
Most people just want to be on the safe side and be bystanders. These are the kind of people who live mediocre lives and live a life of regret. These are also the same people who will try to keep you from achieving your dreams — don’t let them.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by the thought dealing with the fierce competition, why don’t you try to map out a client acquisition strategy that would best fit your business dynamics, then give your plan a go?
Remember that you’ll never really know if your plan will work unless you give it a shot.
In my case, I usually give my client acquisition strategy 1 – 2 months to see if it’d work. Within that duration, I keep on improving and optimizing the strategy to increase the chances of it working.
If at the end of 2 months I still feel that the results aren’t satisfying enough, I go back to the drawing board to map out a new strategy.
Remember, don’t ever give up. Keep on persevering while being very smart with how you go about your every action.
Have you been running your own online business for quite some time now?
If you answered the question with a “yes,” what are some tips that you can share with our audience of soon-to-be online business owners to help make their transition smoother?
Please share your ideas in the comments section below. Cheers!Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community