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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 July 18, 2019

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

Better Job Offers

Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

A Shot at Entrepreneurship

Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

1. Update Your Resume

You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

To hone this skill:

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Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

To hone this skill:

Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

To hone this skill:

Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

How to hone this skill:

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Practice being resourceful.

Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

How to hone this skill:

Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

How to hone this skill:

Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

How to hone this skill:

Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

How to hone this skill:

Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

How to hone this skill:

Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

How to hone this skill:

All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

12. Build Networks and Relationships

You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

How to hone this skill:

Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

Final Thoughts

Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

Happy career switching!

More Resources About Career Advancement

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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