Before you can even think about starting an online business, you really need to think about having a plan. When I say plan I don’t mean a formal business plan with, charts, ROI projections and meaningless business gumpf. The plan that I am talking about is one that helps you figure out what, exactly, you’re going to be selling. What are your products and/or services going to be? What will make you stand out from the competition? What will make people want to buy from you? Who are your ideal customers? How does your work help people and how does it bring value to their lives? How can you turn visitors to your online business into a sustainable and engaged community?
Technically your website won’t earn money, but your business will. A website as awesome as it is won’t create money out of thin air. So before focusing on what your website will have or what it will even be, you will need to figure out your business. Then your website will slide into place and the people that you hire to help build your site will have a much easier time as you will have a clear vision of exactly what your business is and what your website needs to do and be to achieve your business goals which will move you forward.
Before you rush off and build your plan, here is a few things you will want to know first.
I have been asked so many times by people who want to build a website as a quick and easy solution to put some extra cash in their back pocket. One of the concepts that are always brought up is online ads. For the most part, they pay nothing even if your website has high visitor traffic. They are ugly and they aim to entice visitors away from your website and your online offerings. Also, you cannot control which ads are shown on your site (unless you spend the time to build your own advertisement scheme). Now I am not saying that you shouldn’t use adverts to generate extra revenue from your site, but what I am saying is don’t get sold on the idea that by having adverts served up on your website you will automatically create a multi-million-pound business.
The other thing that people sometimes bring up is creating a ‘passive income’ (roll eyes). Really people need to stop reading websites that teach or even sell this idea. Passive implies not doing anything and just watching the cash roll in. What you need to remember is this, if a ‘passive income’ was really that easy and achievable wouldn’t everyone be doing it???? If you want to make money online you have to work hard at it. Constantly. Even if it is a product you create just once and sell to many (like an ebook), you’ve still got to get out there and promote it and market it to keep it selling. Any business idea that seems like you can do it to next to nothing and still make a lot of money must have some serious flaws. Anything worth getting in this life is HARD, that’s why it’s worth getting because you have sweated, bled and pushed yourself to get it.
Building your plan.
Once you have got your online business idea figured out (pat on the back, as this is not as easy as it sounds), think about the goals of the business. How are you going to define success? What will you do to ensure your business idea is sustainable? The goal of your online business can be anything from increasing your exposure and authority on a passionate topic ( you can create a product later down the line) to selling 20,000 copies of your latest ebook. Your goals should be clear and easy to track. You will apply them to every business decision you make moving forward, this can be from approving mockups for your new business website to writing content for your business website and social media posts.
How will you measure your business goals? What indicators will use to show if your business is succeeding or not? You can use anything from increasing your mailing subscribers to getting a certain number of guest posts on your blog or even increasing your traffic to your website.
Once you have your goals you can then start thinking about the design, content and promotion of your online business website with a specific reason for every decision that you make. And if you choose to hire a web designer to build your website for you, it makes the whole design process run a lot smoother and faster and plus you get a better end result.
Once you have a clear business plan, the path for business is then laid out in front of you, a map of sorts. You will then be able to start contacting people to help you build your vision and help you turn your idea into reality. Remember that every business in the world started from a single idea, a single product and a single customer.
Ten things to consider when planning your online business.
- What am I going to sell? Who is my target audience, and why will they want to buy from me?
- Will what I am selling excite my audience and will it turn my audience into raving fans? if not how can I improve the experience so that it does?
- What are my business goals? What does a successful business mean to me?
- How will the business idea make money? Is this idea sustainable, how will it continue to make money?
- What makes my business idea unique? What problem does it solve and how does it help people? What value does this idea bring to others?
- Does this business idea make me excited? Am I passionate about the topic or industry that I will be serving? How can I spread the excitement or passion?
- What professionals do I need to hire to make this idea happen? What will they be responsible for doing?
- What is my timeline for this project?
- What is my budget for this project (is it realistic? can it be changed)?
- What do I want my business to be known for?
Author: Ben Robinson
I help small businesses, self-employed individuals and entrepreneurs to get the most out of their website and online business.