If you are determined to build a successful online business, here’s a plan that works, even if you are brand new to the Web. The key to it is to take a small step in each of several areas all at the same time. As long as each step takes you closer to your goal, then there is no hurry at all. That is, you can work with it as time allows. The trick is to avoid any move in the wrong direction, any step that is counterproductive.
The Fundamental Questions
Begin by asking very specific questions such as …
- Who will I sell to?
- What will I sell?
- How will I sell it?
- How can a website help get it done?
- What are my financial goals for this venture?
These are not easy to answer. Yet completely defining suitable responses is mandatory. Without them, much of what you do will be a waste of time and effort. On the other hand, answer them definitively, and every move you make will lead you closer to your objective.
The last question may be the easiest to answer. For many, it will be, “To build a business working part time that will grow sufficiently for me to give up my day job and work my online business full time.” What follows assumes your answer is similar.
The first question may be the most difficult to answer. But it is the one that matters most because you are going to spend a lot of time directly or indirectly with your customers. It is hard to be effective with people you do not enjoy being around.
Finding appropriate answers to the above questions requires a good deal of study and thought. As you proceed, focus on all of them collectively. That is, as you think about who you want sell to, also consider products to be sold and ways of doing so,
To get started, jot down a few thoughts about each as a beginning point. With these notes, search for ideas and information to help you flesh out a full fledged business plan.
This process will take months, not days. Whatever it takes, it’s better to know where you are headed before committing the bucks and time needed to build a website.
The First Step
This may sound like heresy to seasoned professionals, but the failure to understand what great ad copy is all about, and the lack of skills needed to produce it, is a very common cause of business failure, particularly online. So start here.
Start with copywriting? Have you lost it?
No. Not at all. Copywriting comes after all else is done except building the site. By then you are tired, filled with self-doubt, and doing all possible to minimize committing to even one more small chore. So the final copy on the site often looks and reads as something done hastily and at the last minute. Avoid this calamity by beginning your study right now. Be ready when the time comes to write great pages. Nothing less works.
There is an added bonus in seeking to develop or improve copywriting skills. Almost every gain is also an asset to all other writing you do, including what is needed for your email and newsletter. No writing I have ever done is more demanding than copywriting. Improved skills in this area means better results with all of your writing.
There is no need to master copywriting at this point. But get started with the task. If you have not decided on a product, you can’t say who your perfect customer will be. But you can come to grips with the concept of building such an image.
There are many books on copywriting. Grab one or two and dig in. The very best in my mind is “Make Your Words Sell” by Joe Robson.
You are going to do a lot of reading in all this. A lot of ideas you have never encountered will be presented. You will find it impossible to grasp everything. The trick is to skim a lot, read points that grab you, take a few notes, then lay the piece aside and turn to another. When you come back to it later, you will gain additional insights, for you will be further down the path toward your goal.
Finding A Niche
A niche is a narrow slice of a larger market. A slice with an audience large enough to produce the income you need, but otherwise as narrow as possible. And it needs to be something in which you can dominate powerfully. You want to be *the guru* within your niche.
Finding your niche may be the hardest part of all. Not the work involved, but the time, particularly the thinking time. Yet this is absolutely the last thing to rush. For if you don’t get this right, nothing is going to work at all well.
Finding A Product
As mentioned, working with copywriting and seeking to define your niche need to evolve together. That is, as you make progress in one area, move ahead a bit in the other.
Now to this mix, add the search for possible products and services. And throughout, continue to try to picture who you want to sell to. To define your perfect customer.
Without a doubt, the best product to sell is one you create. This gives you total control. You may even invite others to assist in selling it. There is profit to be made in selling products produced by others, but much more in products you produce.
Enough Already. How Do I Get Started?
It’s best not to make a move until you have defined a niche and answered that first question: Who do you want to sell to? Until you have a clear picture of your target, and have defined within this group some possible perfect customers, you are not yet positioned effectively. Here’s why.
When just getting started, you must seek to understand everything you encounter, for you do not know what you will need. Yet this is impossible to do. There are simply too many good newsletters out there to keep up with them all. Too many neat books; you can’t get and read every one. And too many sites such as STAT, upon which you can spend a week or more without exhausting the resources.
But as you narrow your focus, you in turn narrow the information gathering task. Settle on half a dozen good newsletters to follow, keep as many as a dozen books handy for reference, and refuse to be distracted by anything off target. Until you can accomplish this,
do not extend yourself further by tackling a newsletter or website. Such tasks steal precious time from the fundamental: Defining your target.
When You Have The Focus
Given a focus, you can begin, even if you are still searching for a good product. This can come later. But you must know who your target is.
Given this, start a newsletter, then work at trying to get feedback. When your target begins interacting with you, there are all kinds of great benefits. From their words will spring new ideas that both clarify your goals and bring you closer to achieving them.
And consider opening a website. Whether or not you have a product, focus on building great content.
But even with a website, you need to build a newsletter. This is no longer optional; people expect you to have one. A newsletter is the most effective way to stay in touch with your target and demonstrate your growing expertise.
Continue working on your copywriting skills. Make sure every page on the site “sells” even if it’s only free information.
Keep the pages simple. Follow the unwritten rules. Let that copy you’ve struggled to create be the total focus of your site. Hold the art work to a minimum. A logo and a tiled background is all you really need. And whether or not you yet have a product to sell, remember that content is king. Provide all you can and do all possible to keep your visitors coming back for more.
Continue to search for products that fit your defined target. And continue to seek an unfulfilled need within your target that you can satisfy with a product you create.
Given a product, it’s time to really zero in on your perfect customer. Everything in your newsletter and
on your site must be directed at this target. It’s fine if others join in, but it’s impossible to talk to two different types of people at the same time. Grab a tight focus and stick to it.
This plan may not be as easy to accomplish as you had hoped. It requires time, work, and effort. And there are things to be learned. But it is doable. Anybody who persists can make it happen.