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8 Myths About Starting An Online Business

8 Myths About Starting An Online Business

You’ve come up with an awesome new product idea. Of course, it happened in the shower and you scrambled to jot it down. After rambling about the details to your friends and family, you’ve finally mustered up the courage to build a prototype.

Once again, your family and friends give you the thumbs up, but you’re still far from launching an online business. Everything about it sounds intimidating. You’ve watched far too many episodes of Shark Tank to the point that you’re scared about financing, building a website, and keeping up with marketing.

It seems strange to think about it at such an early stage, but saving money for your online business is often priority number one. Why is this the case? Because chances are you don’t have that much start-up capital and most successful businesses pinch pennies in the early stages regardless.

This gets you thinking about some of the statements you’ve heard about managing your costs, some of them coming from Shark Tank, but most of them coming from naysayer friends or people you’ve met at social events.

Here’s a tip: Forget about all of those statements, because chances are they’re myths. Your business plan is better without them, but it’s also important to realize which of them are myths in order to decide on which you should brush aside.

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You’re in luck, because we’ve compiled some of the more misleading myths about the costs of starting an online business. Go and grab your pen (or bookmark this page,) because you may find some surprising insights.

Myth 1: You Can Start an Online Business for Free (Or A Small Amount of Money)

You’ve all seen the ads that tell you about certain online website building platforms that provide free services (or close to free) online shop creators. In addition, there’s always that self-employed friend that’s telling you how inexpensive it is to get started online.

Although the ideal online store building solutions are fairly inexpensive, you can’t possibly expect to spend less than at least $500 per year on just your website. After all, this is your storefront. It’s the primary way you’re going to make money, and if you plan on expanding that business, it’s going to require investments.

The free (or close to free) online business is a marketing ploy to prompt you into buying. That doesn’t mean you have to spend $10,000 your first year developing a site, but it’s prudent to budget for more, rather than nothing.

Myth 2: You Can Only Start an Online Business With Lots of Startup Capital

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the days of spending ten or twenty thousand dollars on a web developer or marketing person are over.

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Yes, development is often the most expensive part of building a new website, but tools like Shopify, Bigcommerce, and even WIX provide you ready-made tools for launching your site and expanding it to a powerhouse. You don’t need a huge donation from your dad, so leave him alone already.

Myth 3: Many People Who Work Online Work Part-Time Hours but Make Full-Time Wages

Sure, you could go with a low cost business idea, like arts and crafts or selling your freelance services, but people who partake in these endeavors still put in the work to bring in clients and run their businesses just like anyone else.

In fact, one could argue that the traditional 40 hour job is impossible while running an online business, since you’re more likely to spend 80 hours per week nurturing your own company.

Myth 4: Social Media is a Costless Marketing and Money Making Outlet

Anyone who has made significant conversions through Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest can explain that social media marketing is far from free. Not only do effective advertisements cost money, but your strategy also requires loads of time and effort. In addition, you may end up hiring a social media person to manage the whole ordeal.

Myth 5: You Can Automate Everything When Selling Online to Cut Down on Labor Costs

Young business owners are prone to look for solutions that can completely automate their selling process. This ties into the fact that so many people crave the 4-hour workweek, but it also coincides with the numerous different apps and tools that have come out to automate processes.

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Let’s break it down.

You can’t completely automate your customer support. You can’t completely automate your social media. You can’t completely automate your receipts and promotions and returns. Labor costs are required, because people run businesses. It’s essential to keep this in mind for your budget.

Myth 6: A Large Promotional and Advertising Budget is the Key to Success

Mark Cuban repeatedly talks about how pouring money into a promotional budget is the last thing you want to focus on with a young company. This comes as a surprise, but you probably can’t even get an investment or SBA grant unless you can already prove that your business functions without the need for a huge marketing budget.

Myth 7: Processing Payments is Going to Break the Bank

Although it may be true that payment processing fees are going to pile up, putting in quality research to locate the most cost efficient solution can cut those processing costs and keep your company afloat for quite some time.

In fact, it’s imperative to locate the right payment gateway company for your brand, because 1% or 2% extra on each transaction can add up quickly.

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Myth 8: All Tasks Must be Completed by You or You Must Hire Someone Full-Time to Do Them

Online business owners frequently feel like every task must be completed in-house, whether it’s with their own sweat and blood or by hiring a full-time partner who can assist them with tasks such as web development, graphic design, social media, and email marketing.

Nothing is further from the truth, because nowadays freelancers are your friends. Hundreds of sites provide gathering spots for graphic designers, writers, social media workers, and even data entry freelancers – all of whom are poised to work for you for reasonable rates. There’s no reason to hire a graphic designer and put them on your payroll when you can turn to a trusty freelancer on an as-needed basis.

Over to You…

The various myths about small businesses frequently change, so continue doing your research to ensure that you don’t fall behind the times. Think about it. Some of the myths outlined above may very well have been true a while back; however, times change. Flexibility and awareness are key components in your entrepreneurship arsenal.

Can you think of any other cost myths that hold back online businesses?

Featured photo credit: Computer/Wild Zontar via flickr.com

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Melissa Burns

Melissa is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. She writes about communication, entrepreneurship and success on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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