Building Your First Online Business From Scratch
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Most people fail when they start their first online business.
A list of reasons why they fail is exhaustive:
- Wrong niche
- Wrong messaging
- Wrong ideal customer
- Wrong pricing structure
- Wrong product offering
The list goes on and on and on...
Want to give yourself a better chance at success?
Here are 7 steps I would follow if I were starting my business from scratch tomorrow:
Step 1: Understand one problem that one specific group of people has
Notice I didn't say "all problems" or "all people". You need one problem that one very specific group of people have in common.
Once you know the problem, you need to know how to solve it.
The easiest way to find this? Look backward in your life.
What's a problem of your own that you solved a few years ago?
Example: Let's say you and all of your friends from the local state college wanted to break into a great tech company out of school, but only you figured out how.
Congratulations. You now have a solution to a common problem that other people face.
Step 2: Create a clear and concise roadmap to solving that specific problem
We overestimate how much people want to learn at once.
Mostly, people are looking to solve one problem. To get from point A to point B easily, quickly, and affordably.
Point A --> Point B
Craft an offer in the form of a roadmap or blueprint that is aimed at your specific target audience.
Example: The 14-day roadmap that shows state college graduates how to land their dream job at Google.
What state college kid, who wants to land his or her dream job at Google, wouldn't pay money for that?
Step 3: Figure out your product format
This doesn't matter as much as step 1 or step 2.
The goal is to pick something you're likely to complete and complete it.
- Like to write? Write an eBook.
- Like to teach? Record a video course.
- Like systems? Build out digital materials.
It doesn't matter what format, it just matters that you'll complete it.
Remember Parkinson's Law: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
This is why I recommend timeboxing. Give yourself a very specific amount of time and a deadline to complete this project. Try starting with something fast, like 28 days.
Step 4: Figure out where to host it
Much like step 3, there are a million solutions out there. If you're just getting started, please (please!) don't overcomplicate it.
Go with Gumroad or something simple. Just pick one and get started. Get complicated down the road. Just make sales now.
Charge between $50 and $150 for your product. That's affordable enough to get buyers without building trust for many years.
The goal is to make sure you deliver thousands of dollars worth of value if not more.
Step 5: Find some customers
With the internet, there are zero excuses for not being able to find some customers.
- Write an article on Medium or on your website.
- Chop it up and put it on LinkedIn (Here's how!)
- Double it up on Twitter.
- Drop a nice Twitter snapshot on Instagram.
- Answer questions on Quora, and write on IndieHackers and Makerpad.
- Find Subreddits and Facebook groups.
Yes, it's work, but it will provide you with the information to make better choices in the future by exploring different distribution channels.
You want to find which of these channels leads to sales and then triple down.
Remember to work smart.
Step 6: Turn customers into testimonials
Once you have a few customers, start automating the testimonial collection.
I use Testimonial.to to automate collection at the midway point and end of each of my courses.
Display these Testimonials everywhere.
Your website, landing page, social media, articles, blogs, etc.
Social proof sells. Don't believe me?
4.7% of the people who land on this page buy.
This leads to ~$110k+ in sales every 30 days for this product.
Step 7: Create a system for repeatable selling
Every good online business has a repeatable system
You should know exactly where you'll post each day, at exactly what time, and why. See what content leads to impressions and engagement, and which content leads to visits and purchases. They are different.
Intersperse the different types to gain attention and then convert.
Here's a great starting point to shoot for:
Find 4 people who will buy your $75 course each day.
4*$75*365 = $109,500
That's how you create a 6-figure online product.
Back out of that number. If you know 3.5% of people buy when they get to your website, then you need to drive 114 people to your site each day.
Find your best channel from above and get 114 people there with something that piques their interest.
Starting your first side business isn't easy, but it's certainly achievable.
It requires a long-term growth mindset, patience, and an engaged audience on a social platform of your choice.
Personally, I think LinkedIn is the best (and easiest) place to build an audience and business in 2023. If you're interested in learning how to do that, join 15,000+ students and 30 LinkedIn Top Voices in my digital course, The Operating System: Grow & Monetize Your LinkedIn.
You'll get 25+ short lessons on how to set up the perfect profile, network with peers, create valuable content consistently, and turn followers into customers. Join here.
Well, that's it for today. I hope this encourages you to go out and get something started.
See you next week.
Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:
1. The LinkedIn Operating System: Join 16,000 students and 30 LinkedIn Top Voices inside of The LinkedIn Operating System. This comprehensive course will teach you the system I used to grow from 0 to 465,000+ followers and $4.7M in income.
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