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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

Reference

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Anthony Carranza

Multilingual writer and journalist covering all things technology and productivity.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Answer the Interview Question “What Motivates You?”

How to Answer the Interview Question “What Motivates You?”

Your suit is fresh from the dry cleaners. You’ve printed your resume on thick paper and practiced the technical questions in front of the mirror. Your interview is tomorrow, and one simple question you’ve left to the end of your prep: “What motivates you?” Though a self-aware and a driven person, you ponder the answer.

What actually does motivate you, and is naming it point-blank a good way to reply? This is a moment for you to shine, and losing the opportunity might cost you a dream job.

To understand how to answer the question about motivation, or any interview question for that matter, it is helpful to recognize the question’s purpose. What they are really trying to learn here is whether you are a good fit for the company. In other words, would they be okay tolerating you for eight hours a day? Will they get through a flight across the ocean sitting next to you? Will you be a good company for a morning coffee run?

What your personal motivation has to do with it? Nothing and everything at the same time. Nothing because your answer itself is not going to make or break the deal. Everything because how you answer this question will determine whether you share the same values with your potential employer. And if you do – your chances to also share the same office with them in the future increases disproportionately!

“What motivates you?” has a few twin questions. Among them are “What wakes you up in the morning?” and “What keeps you up at night?” And, as many different positions and people are out there, there is no single proper answer that would guarantee success. With no wrong answer either, there is definitely a way to answer it wrong. Recognizing that difference is the key.

A young professional with ambition for career growth, you can have a wide range of things that keep you going. Prescribing something specific to talk about on your interview would be an equivalent of trying to fit your unique personality into a standard box.

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We are all different, and your answer to “What motivates you?” should be different too. So the only way to really provide any helpful guidance for the best ways to answer this question is to outline how NOT to answer it. With an understanding of that, you are well equipped to nail your response.

1. Don’t Leave a Sound-Good Answer for the Lazy

When “What motivates you?” question comes up, the easiest way out is to default to some sound-good answer, which depicts you as a person of good morals and firm values. “I like to help people and see them improve” sounds legitimate and extremely proper. Yet, there is a hidden danger in framing your answer this way. Defaulting to such response, you are going to sound exactly like everybody else. Because guess what, they also want to present themselves in a good light (and help people and see them improve)!

If your reply sounds like something a Joe with a perfect tie and polished shoes would also say, it is not going to work. Why? Because, as good as it sounds, it is general and does not let your personality shine even for a bit.

You might really mean what you were going to answer, but a lot of other candidates also think they have these virtues. So give this answer to your interviewers, and all they are going to hear is noise. They’ve already heard a version of this from five other candidates today! Chances are that they remember what you’ve said are nil. Bottom line, no defaulting to a sound-good standard answer.

2. Don’t Aim for the Low Hanging Fruit of the Company’s Values

One thing that every interviewer appreciates is the candidate’s understanding of the company’s values. Preparedness and prior research definitely earn you a couple of points in your column.

However, regurgitating the company’s values as your answer to “What motivates you?” question, is not the best strategy. It may bring your interviewers out of the stream of their own thoughts, as they hear something familiar, which is definitely a good thing. Yet, a company values-based answer is a bare-bone minimum and a low hanging fruit that everyone can grab.

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“Integrity, excellence, and teamwork” may sound like something you subscribe to, at least in general. The company’s marketing department probably spent a few weeks and a bit of budget, writing the values out. So they do sound convincing. Yet, you, simply repeating them, can come across as people-pleasing and unauthentic.

Without your own interpretation of what those values mean to you, they are just like any other sound-good answer – see point above for that!

3. Keep Radical Authenticity for Your Self-Development

If grabbing the answers straight from a company’s website smells like a lack of authenticity, stating things the way they are should be a way to go. Right? Wrong!

If you blurt out “Money” to what motivates you, the interviewers will likely remember the raw straightforwardness but as an eyebrow raise factor, rather than a thoughtful answer. And it’s not the content – your honest answer – that is a problem.

In fact, it should be the only way for you to approach any question, or else you risk making claims you cannot sustain. The problem is context – your story – without which any direct answer may sound bizarre.

There is a way to state that financial betterment is your only driver to come to work. There is a way to say this job is a stepping stone to something bigger if that’s what it really is. If you can tell a story that weaves the context of your (honest) motivation, you do not need to sacrifice authenticity to be still received well. And that story is the main piece of answering “What motivates you?”

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How you tell this story is something that sets you apart from the rest.

Putting It All Together — The Story Is the King

An authentic answer based on a story that reflects your true motivation and illustrates your values, which also align with the company’s values, is the best way to answer “What motivates you?” question.

Now let’s slice it into pieces. The story format is how we receive information best. For example, you are unlikely to know how many calls firefighters attend each day in your city but the story about one of them rescuing a kitty out of a burning house surely has touched your heart!

So, when you tell a narrative to “What motivates you?” question, you tune your interviewer’s cognitive ability to process information in the most optimal way. It will beat carefully picked words and clever statistics any day – because your listener will remember it!

Not every story is a good one to bring to your interview. But that does not mean you should make it up! Inauthenticity radar of modern people is quite fine-tuned. So spare your potential employers of a concealed eye roll, and tell them a real story!

It is not surprising that you might be more inclined to “invent” something than to share a real episode out of your life. Unsure what to make of unique experiences we’ve had, we prefer hiding them instead of using them to bring us forward.[1] But think of an extraordinary person. None of such people got to where they are by doing what everyone else was doing. So firmly standing behind a true story from your past uniquely positions you to win, both in general and in this interview specifically. In that story, what drove you to the outcome that made you stronger?

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Explaining your drivers in any transformative moments from your past is what amplifies the impact. Here’s the demonstration of your good merits, mentioned in the beginning. But now, you talk about them in your own words. Here are your values, allowing people to understand if they want you on their team. Here’s the moment for you to show how the company’s mission aligns with that of own.

Now every bit of additional research you’ve made on the company, from a people-pleasing move, turns into arguments to strengthen your candidacy. You are remaining true to yourself, and you are getting what you want!

What’s Next?

Telling your own story is the most authentic and powerful way to answer interview questions. “What motivates you?” is just one example. And while we are often good at intellectualizing this idea, when the time comes, we have troubles putting it to practice.

“Oh but this job is so conservative! Who cares about my selling newspapers in the outdoor market as a kid?” Or “This is a creative job I am applying to! They will not appreciate my anecdotes about my working in the restaurant kitchen.”

Every time these thoughts come in to block your true self and give way to some polished professional, you are trying to portray just to impress your future employers, stop it! And remind yourself that, with every interview, you are choosing them as much as they are choosing you.

If you think your story is not something they will appreciate, firstly, do not make that decision for them. Secondly, perhaps these are not the people you even want to work with.

So when asked the question “What motivates you?”, tell your story, beautifully and sincerely. Show up as your best. Let this being-your-best become the unchangeable principle, whether you are making choices about people or people are making choices about you.

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Know Your Fear: Fear of being unique

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