Starting any business is hard. Really hard. But the cost of starting an online business is now very low. It doesn’t cost much to start one. The real challenge isn’t getting started, it’s staying in business.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of starting an online business is that you’ll learn you do have something of value to share with the world, something that can generate income for you for the rest of your life.
That’s exciting, right. But entrepreneurship not for everyone. Most people can’t handle the pressure and everything else it takes to start and run a real business. These are a few of the many things you should consider when starting an online business.
1. Create a solution to a problem you have
In the words of Michael Arrington, “Scratch your own itch”. Most entrepreneurs launch businesses by solving their own problems. Look for a solution to a problem you have, instead of looking for a product to sell.
2. Solve real painful problems
Google made search better. Amazon simplified online buying and selling. Netflix solved on-demand streaming media. Uber is trying to make on-demand car service better. What can you make smarter or better?
What is the one painful problem you can solve without struggle? To grab your customer’s attention, start by solving their needs, wants rarely make the cut. If your product is not a must-have, you could still find a way to repurpose it to solve a pressing need.
3. Start with the end in mind
There’s nothing more motivating than moving toward a goal that you can clearly visualise. What do you want to achieve? What is your business? What niche or industry are you in? What do you want your business to look like? What’s the big picture? How big is your target market?
Once you have the big picture in mind, you can start to break it down and work out the steps you need to get there. You don’t have to figure everything out, but it pays to know what you expect from your initial thoughts.
Find out if your idea will serve a market that is big enough with opportunity for growth. Don’t underrate opportunity for growth or overestimate the market for your product. Every business thrives on growth.
4. Validate your idea
This is probably the most important step of launching any business. You will be spending years working on this idea or project. Before you even think about how to take that idea and make a product out of it, think about its viability.
How unique is your idea? Does it solve a real problem? Will your killer idea really take off as you expect? Before you get too excited and start investing time and resources into any idea, focus on finding out if there is a real need for it.
5. Go to market as soon as you can
Action begets outcome. Outcome begets more action. You can only build when you make a move, as momentum builds through action. When the moment arrives after researching, prototyping and testing, do not hesitate to launch and seek feedback.
The biggest mistake you don’t want to make is to wait for that moment when you have a perfect product before you launch. And you don’t even have to do most things yourself. You could outsource or get someone else involved.
Get your product to your customers as as soon as you can. If you have to build an online store, don’t waste too much time perfecting every detail before you “open” for business. You can always iterate and improve.
Once you are live, consistent relevant interactions through blog posts of articles, infographics and videos can hep you attract and retain customers.
6. Your business should be your passion
Some entrepreneurs look to solve problems they identify with or feel passionate. They choose this path because work because less about work and more about enjoying the journey.
You will need all the inspiration, commitment and the perseverance you can get to make it as an entrepreneur, hence the need to start a business you are passionate about.
“The happiest and most successful people I know don’t just love what they do, they’re obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them,” Dropbox co-founder Drew Houston said during the 2013 MIT commencement address.
7. How not to fail
The process can get complicated. There are lots of ways to screw it up. You could do everything you can but still fail. You can’t do it alone. Look out for the right talent and skill coupled with drive, passion, persistence and the ability to solve problems when looking for partners, co-founders or hiring your first team.
Get professionals involved if you don’t have the right skills. From planning to launching through final execution. The cruel and unfair part of online business is that if you aren’t very Internet savvy, you’ll make mistakes on the technical side that you’re totally oblivious to. You may get the content side right, but the technology will bite you and cripple your results. Don’t lose sight of the details.