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Published on October 31, 2018

How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed

How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed

There are thousands and thousands of free guides available online on how to start an online business.

However, the most valuable lesson they probably never discuss is that starting a new business online is probably going to fail. Successful professionals that excel at some point with a venture never gave up, had a passion about creating a meaningful service or product idea, and never stopped trying.

Starting a business is a great opportunity for anyone with a passion to work on something you never get tired of. If people like coming to you for advise or to help them with work-related tasks, then you have the necessary skills and experience to start a business.

In addition, if you have a curiosity on how services and products, maybe you have the capacity and capabilities to create something more innovative.

In the next section, we will examine comprehensively a thorough approach about what are the core elements to start a business. It will not necessarily catapult you to create Google, Facebook or Apple, yet guide you to create a successful business.

1. Remember the likelihood of your business failing are high

Building a product or service is a process that takes a lot of time, so do not think that successful CEOs did it with a snap of their fingers.

According to the Small Business Association (SBA), only 30 percent of businesses will fail in the first two years and 50 percent will probably stay open in the first five years.[1] It is something to think about when launching your online business.

However, this does not mean you should be discouraged, and it’s actually a valuable lesson to fail since it will give you clues on what to do right the next time.

2. Focus on your audience and targeted niche market

One of the most difficult things to figure is who your customer is and how to tailor your product or service. Depending on your available resources and the size of your network, the scale of your venture will be contingent on this.

If you are launching a business, will you go the retail route or create an online store? Will your service satisfy the needs of a startup, small business, enterprise or a corporation? There is no right or wrong answer.

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Think about your audience and what the size of your customer base will be. Without knowing your customers, you cannot start a business.

3. Conduct a lot of research and examine the segment of your potential market

Depending on the sort of business, you will have to do hours of research and ask a lot of questions. It helps a lot to look at specific companies or businesses to get an idea on how they go started.

This may be a daunting task for some and there are other avenues to explore to assist you with building a business. The web has tons of resources and you can check out Fundera’s list of 50 tools to help grow your business.

In addition, you must tap into a reliable business networking list of people to guide your journey to creating an online business.

4. Tap into the reach of social media and expand your message

Gone are the days of paying expensive advertising budgets. Thanks to social channels like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, businesses can advertise for free. On the other hand, you can spend and create marketing campaigns on those different platforms.

Figure out which one is best suited to your needs and where that audience is active. When your online business has figured out where its message has the most impact and at the same time customers are responding to your message, then you know you are in the right place.

5. Network with influencers and brand your company on an optimized blog

Depending on the size of the organization and the number of employees, you may need to consider networking in the initial phases.

Social media is a valuable tool and you can reach out to brand influencers depending on the line of products or services you wish to promote.

Gone are the days of just putting an advertisement campaign and expecting a big return. Instead you will have to create partnerships and blog about your branded efforts.

Make sure you have an optimized blog with search engine optimization (SEO) tools built-in, so you can focus on attracting customers and followers.

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6. Create monetization plan tailored to your products and services

Whether you are a startup, small business, enterprise or a large company, you have to be strategic with your company efforts. Do you have an omni-channel strategy in place to attract clients and potential business?

In other words, you must have the integrations with your site and selected social media channels to generate revenue from products or services.

Believe it or not, not having a clear investment plan on how you will generate business is one factor often overlook. The technology is there and depending on your institutional resources, you will have to look at a couple of vendors to see which one gets you the best value for your company.

7. Monitor your progress and schedule meetings on a weekly basis

When your business is live online, you need to monitor progress. You must look at your data, key performance indicators (KPI)s and financials to see how your company is progressing over time.

This is a very different mindset when you are in a large company, but an average-sized online business has to do housekeeping procedures.

The products or services advertised online are just one part of the equation. Are you attracting customers? Are interactions with clients translating to transactions or conversion? These questions can only be answered by looking at your data and financial statements. When you can compare both, you will have an excellent understanding on the current state of affairs.

8. Once you have refined your online product or service, officially launch your business

Once you have more or less found the online product or service to serve customers, you are ready for prime time.

As long as your monetization plan lines up carefully with your your investment, you can go live with your business. This can be the form of an official announcement via your site, hosting a live event, or reaching out to media outlets to plug your company launch.

There is no right or wrong way to go about his process, yet make sure the state of the company propels you to launch the online service or product.

9. Once business is growing, retain customers and attract new ones

Having customers at the beginning is crucial for an online business. In fact, it is important for any business period.

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The customers who have decided to adopt or buy your service, make sure you are delivering above and beyond customer service. They will not only continue to buy services, but they will likely recommend your service to others. So go the extra mile to thank them for their business.

If possible, develop perks programs and giveaways since customers enjoy the red carpet and celebrity treatment.

10. Use social media networks ethically and steer away from shady business practices

It is tempting to use several social media platforms and buy fake followers. The problem is if the business is a lot bigger than it seems, it will come back to hunt you. There is nothing more embarrassing or outright unprofessional to have thousands of followers who never interact with posts you share.

Unfortunately, social media has lost credibility when it comes to building fake followers and fake news. So, do not fall in the trap of trying to grow your brand artificially. Aim for organic followers. Meaning, to have real customers following you and engaging their brand in authentic ways.

11. Continue to track results of the business

Meetings are essential to tracking the state of affairs and the state of your staff. These meetings should also include tracking the performance as a result of your online business (product or service).

Are the results positive? Are they negative? Are they producing productive results? Analytics is vital to understanding how the business is performing, so make sure you are able to get a snapshot of where you are at.

Successful businesses cover their tracks and that includes look at the bottom line performance of their product or service.

12. Utilize search engines to attract targeted customers to your site

There are advertising systems and price tiers for the different social networks, but search engines like Google and Bing are still important.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is offered in tiers through the Google search engine and Microsoft’s search engine Bing. This remains one of the simplest and most effective way to generate traffic to a brand new site.

As reported by Entrepreneur, the PPC offers two advantages:[2]

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One advantage is that PPC ads show up on the search pages right away, while the other is it allows you as a business to test different keywords including headlines, prices and selling approaches.

13. Provide expert advice and testimony through different mediums

It can be challenging to get brand visibility when you are a brand business. However, if you have some significant knowledge and expertise on your company product or service, offer insight.

It means you can publish a blog post with powerful visuals, an infographic, a webinar, a YouTube video, etc. The idea is to plug your service, but make it an interesting testimony that tells a story. It is not enough to tell the story of your product, but connect with to popular culture if possible.

Be creative and take risks because that may be the different between success and failure if you do not try.

14. An online business cannot succeed without effective email marketing strategies

When you are compiling customer data, one of the most valuable pieces of information is a phone number and particularly an email address.

With an email, you can build an opt-in list. This list allows you to create newsletters or announcements to be sent to their inbox for exclusive offers.

You can setup a provider or a third party to analyze customer interactions with your email offers. What it will provide your business is cost opportunity and it is cheaper than print, TV or radio.

Final thoughts

After you have found your calling in building a product or service, put the building stones to creating your service and product. It needs to solve a problem that no other business offers. If you are about solving problems, an online business is the right venture for you.

Launching an online business is a complicated undertaking, so do not expect instant results. Building a successful online business takes time, investing money and developing a service that makes a profit.

Finally, make sure you have the available resources and a reliable team that will accompany you throughout your journey. They need to be loyal and have to bring something unique to your big idea.

Take risks and fail early because these experiences are the foundations to launching a successful company.

Featured photo credit: Olu Eletu via unsplash.com

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Anthony Carranza

Multilingual writer and journalist covering all things technology and productivity.

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

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