Becoming an online entrepreneur is like constructing a building. Before you start you need a plan that will make you have a clearer picture of what awaits you. In a way, starting a business online makes you its architect. But like any architect, you must want your business and product not only to look good, but also to last in time, and obviously not collapse and cause collateral damage.
Beforehand, you have to collect all the data you may need in order to know what each step will require you to do. You cannot afford to be unprepared.
There is, though, something which is, believe it or not, more important than following a plan. I'm talking about changing your mindset.
When you ask anyone about what they think being an online entrepreneur means, everyone says fast money, less work, being your own boss, having your own schedule, and so on. While some of these are true or partially true, the first two are actually wrong.
Yes, you become your own boss, but with this comes the responsibility as well. Yes, you get to establish your own schedule, but don't even dream about a four-hour workday. While you could do that, if you want your business to stand a chance, you have to put in the work, and I mean more than four hours per day — a lot more — at least in the first year or so. And those fancied earnings? They will come, eventually; but they don't usually come fast.
Building your online business just like an architect
If this reality hasn't discouraged you and you are still determined to change your life, let's get down to business!
Here are the three levels your plan needs to assure yourself you have a long-lasting and successful online business:
- Build the foundation
- Have a moment of introspection
- Learn, learn and learn some more
- Shape your product
- Elevate your construction
- Build an audience - the pillars
- Create appropriate content - the inside
- Market your product - the outside
- Protect your construction
- Put a roof over it
- Take insurance
Let’s consider these steps on a more deeper level:
1. Build the foundation
This new challenge you have ahead requires some detective work: self-aimed and online-aimed. You need to start with a moment of introspection and ask yourself the following questions:
- What are you good at?
- What do you like doing?
- What can you bring new to the online world?
- Are you a responsible person?
- Are you a procrastinator?
- Do you quit easily when things get tough?
- Are you willing to work your heart out?
This part of the whole process will help you determine if you are cut out to be an online entrepreneur, what product you want to sell and if you have the necessary drive to begin your journey.
Not everyone is ready for the pressure you will experience once you get started. If you are to stand a chance at succeeding you have to take full responsibility for every single decision you make from now on. Things might not always be easy, but this is bound to happen anyway. You need to continue putting in the work, not give up, and get things done when they should be done.
After this profound soul-searching it's time to learn. Yes, learn! Learn everything you can about the online business world.
It takes knowledge to sell knowledge.
Whether you are a professional wanting to sell your expertise or an ordinary person with or without much knowledge on the subject of e-commerce, you have to learn what making business online implies. From content creation to marketing and analytics, you have to ensure you have a clear picture of what you are about to set into. Read books, articles and testimonials on the topic, register for webinars and courses which facilitate the understanding of the online business world.
Then, to shape your idea, you need to check if there is an online demand for whatever product you want to sell, be that a new one that doesn't exist on the market or a variation of an already existing one. Either way, your product needs to stand out and offer something that the online hasn't been able to provide so far. Research what your target audience need and try to include that in your product; also, don't be reluctant to make the necessary adjustments to address their requirements. Analyze your competition and learn from them what works.
Elevate your construction
To see your construction elevate you need to slowly add brick by brick to your foundation. Start with building an audience. As strange as this may sound, you need to make yourself and your prospective product visible online. This ensures the public is aware of the upcoming launch. Moreover, this is the first step in the sales funnel. You can take advantage of the plethora of platforms you can use to do this, but you might as well leverage the social networks you've been using so far, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit and others.
Next, you need to shape your product thoroughly paying a lot of attention to the content you create. Whatever you decide to sell you have to consider two things - its description and its design. The description is a key element meant to explain clearly what you are selling and the benefits it promises. It is advisable to use it as a pre-launching tactic to create anticipation among your audience. Also, your product will not be complete without an appealing design. We all know that people still judge a book by its cover so why take any risks. Creating something that is eye-catching will make your buyers intrigued and willing to analyze it, thus increasing the chances of a purchase.
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When your product is ready, it’s time to launch it and make it available on the online market. You should create a website or at least a landing page for people to go to. You've officially become an online entrepreneur! Now it's time to see if all the work you've done so far generates revenues or not. You can use Google Analytics to do so.
Protect your construction
There's a saying which goes ‘better safe than sorry’. This is true in business as well. All the hard work would be in vain if you do not protect your construction. Putting a roof over it ensures you that your product will last in time. For this, you have to continuously market it, which is a necessary step in order to keep your product alive in the public's perception.
However, things might not go according to plan and you may experience some setbacks which should not put you down, but which should make you consider taking insurance. First, don't quit your job, if you have one before your business generates income. Second, you might have to reinvent yourself and your product to keep up with the ‘climate changes’ of the competitive world of doing business online.
Having a plan and sticking to it will give you the guidance and the discipline you need as the architect of your own construction. While it might seem hard at first, seeing your ideas come alive will give you the necessary drive to finish what you started. Whenever you feel you are walking on a tightrope, blindfolded with an abyss beneath you, consider the following quote:
”Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Lao Tzu