Building a business online is hard. We know because we have tried – and failed – to start new ventures online a handful of times. We made lots of mistakes and wasted tons of money simply because we weren’t prepared to thrive or sell online. Over the years we’ve also learned what it takes to build a successful business online; so we know exactly what you’re about to get into.
Unfortunately, the sad truth about the Internet is that over 90% of online businesses fail. The reason for this is because people often confuse the simplicity of starting a business online with the ability to GROW a successful business online.
Today, it’s fair to say that just about anyone can decide to start a business online – but not everyone can monetize and scale that website into a successful business.
Just like starting any other venture, starting a business online will involve work, time and resources before you see any return. If you don’t know the answers to the following questions, it’s likely your business will also fail to produce results (or sales) via the web.
So what are you waiting for? Ask yourself these 5 questions BEFORE starting a business online:
1. Do you have a business plan?
An online business plan is vital to the success and growth of your business. You need to be able to at least communicate the following key areas of your business:
- What you are selling or providing?
- How you will reach your target market, identify prospects, and sell your products and services?
- What people are willing to pay for your product or service?
- Is there even a commercial market for your business online?
You might have a great idea but you can only be sure if you do your homework (i.e. market research) first!
2. Do you really understand who your target audience or ideal client is?
You can’t succeed in any business without defining your target audience. The same goes for the Internet. You MUST know who your target audience is and who your ideal client or customer is in order to solve their burning problem.
Because you need to know who your products and marketing efforts should appeal to if you want kick-ass sales results.
Take into consideration your ideal clients’ characteristics, like their age, gender, geographical location, psychological needs and personal interests.
3. Are you able to invest money into your business without a return on your investment for a while (if ever)?
Hopefully, you’re starting to notice that online businesses are very similar to non-virtual businesses. Typically, trying to start any sort of business without money is tough and not highly recommended. You need to make some kind of investment in your business if you plan to see results.
Have you thought about how you will finance your business and what your sales forecasts are? You will also want to take some time to explore all possible options for financing to figure out how you will manage and maintain your site after it’s built.
By taking the time to consider these investments, you’ll see that starting a business online is a lot more about how you plan to promote and market your website that it is about building it. It’s also a good idea to remind yourself that building anything great takes time. In order to budget your finances accordingly, plan that it may take months or even years to see a return on your investment.
4. Have you considered content?
Most people believe that building a website consists of creating the design before ever giving thought to the text that will fill the website up. Your website’s strategy should begin with its content. Don’t make the mistake of prioritizing your websites design over you’re your content. You should consider and start preparing your website content before your website is made. Content is the lifeblood of any successful online business. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling physical products, services, or intellectual property, content is what allows your business to grow and thrive online. Content is what drives search engine results, increases traffic to your website and establishes your business as an industry leader. Before you even think about starting a business online, consider who will create the content that people will view on your website.
Will you write or create all the copy for your website pages, blogs and ads? Will you hire someone to help you write or create graphics and branding materials? Do you have enough content knowledge and technical skills so you don’t have to spend a fortune on outside help? It’s crucial to consider these factors before you waste a butt-load of money building a website and having no money left over to fill it with content about your business.
If you’re creating your own content, remember to speak to your visitors (i.e. your ideal client) and not your ego. Remind them how you can solve their burning pain or problem and speak to them in a language they understand.
5. Do you have an exit strategy?
No one wants to starts a business with the idea that it may fail, but it’s crucial to understand that failure is possible, especially online. Consider your definition of failure and when you will know it’s time to give up. Would you regret taking the leap and risking it all if you failed? If your answer is “No Way José,” then starting a business online might work out for you.
Does your business have the potential to profit and succeed online? Remember that leaping into any sort of Internet venture without ample deliberation is a sure-fire recipe for failure… Don’t let that happen to you!
Take our FREE Website Feasibility QUIZ to work out if your business idea has opportunity to thrive and if you’re prepared to start and run an online business.