Starting a service-oriented, online business has many benefits. It requires little cash investment, there are a number of user-friendly tools you can use to build an online presence at little to no cost, and with some networking, you can connect with talented people whom offer complementary products and services eager to work cooperatively to capture business.
This makes starting an online business very attractive. It’s as if you can go from the spark of an idea to generating an income with little effort and in a relatively short period of time. At least, that’s what a number of self-proclaimed “gurus” will have you believe.
The reality is that although there may be more opportunities at a lower startup investment available online, the fundamentals of starting a business haven’t changed.
1. You can’t buy success.
While there are some structured programs that promise a “magic bullet” for building a successful business, the only real magic bullet is you. Whether you buy into a program that offers a proven formula or if you start a unique business, you need to be ready to give it your all. Businesses do not run themselves. If they did, everyone would be an entrepreneur.
2. Do what you love … and what you’re good at, and what will pays the bills.
This may sound obvious, but too many people try to launch a business based upon a passion or what they believe will make money, but rarely do they identify the business that can do both. I co-authored an ebook titled, “My Idea, My Business” with Maria Smith-Alvira, to help people determine the right business for them where they can apply their strengths, their experience and their passion in pursuit of their personal, professional and financial goals.
While you can start a business that doesn’t fit into all of these key criteria, it often won’t last. Starting and running a business requires stamina, dedication, patience, resourcefulness and focus. These are difficult to maintain over time if the business doesn’t take advantage of your strong points or can’t realistically reach your goals. At some point, you will abandon it.
3. Do your research and have a plan.
Too many people start a business based upon what they think is a good idea. But does the market care? Once you formulate an idea, take the time to research if there is a need in the market for it. If not, modify it or move on. Once you do develop an idea that energizes you and there is objective evidence to indicate that it has a strong possibility of succeeding, create a plan.
Typically, people shy away from doing market research and developing a business plan because they don’t know how to do it or they believe they can figure it out as they go along. Big mistake.
Maria and I co-authored a second ebook titled, “My Idea, My Research” to make it easier for new and struggling entrepreneurs to perform their market research. We have a third ebook in the works to help them write their business plan.
Not all businesses require a formal business plan. Some can get started with a SWOT analysis, a one-page plan or a mini business plan. The detail and length of the plan will vary based upon the following key elements:
- The complexity of your business
- The source of funding
- The extent of damages you will incur if your business fails
Performing market research and planning upfront can save you a tremendous amount of time and money. Don’t skip this step!
4. Don’t try to do it on your own.
There isn’t a successful business around today that didn’t have some form of outside help. Even solo entrepreneurs seek help. Build your support system. If you are in a relationship, make sure your significant other is supportive of your plan. Find a mentor or mentors. Network with other industry professionals. Seek out joint venture opportunities with other businesses that service the same market with complementary products and services.
And, when necessary, find outsourcing partners that can cover your weaknesses. No one is excellent at all aspects of starting and running a business. You can struggle to do it on your own, however, you will grow your business quicker if you find partners and / or providers that have strengths in areas where you are weak.
To download copies of “My Idea, My Business” and “My Idea, My Research”, register for access to The Solopreneur’s Guide Solutions Center to grab your free copies while they’re still available.
And as a follow up to insight #4 above, I have a variety of startup services to help you expedite your idea to market efficiently and cost-effectively. All you have to do is ask for help.
All the Best,
The Solopreneur’s Guide