Chances are, you are stuck between a 9 to 5 job and you’re looking for different ways to make extra revenue for yourself. You’d probably have something you would want to do during your free time or maybe even leaving your job to make that jump. But that isn’t the right thing to do. In this topic, we’ll be discussing a few things on how to start your online business, what to do, and what to avoid before making your decision.
This may sound very cliche but you’ll always have to make preparations before doing anything. These kinds of online businesses consume a lot of time and require a lot of preparation. First things first, you need to know what lies ahead. It’s definitely going to be a tough road and it’s not a path meant for everyone. Know that the sacrifices that you would have to make, such as nights out, or some of your sleep time. But you know, this is the real world and these sacrifices have to be made to create a successful pathway for your online business or career in general.
Basically, What you can do is to list down your commitments and prioritize them. Listing all of them down in a book or notepad and prioritizing them based on what you feel is more important to allow yourself to provide more commitment and focus towards your goals. Although this doesn’t mean you have to stop hanging out with your friends, family, girlfriend/boyfriend or even maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Of course, you’d still need to live and enjoy your life right? But, by starting an online business, do note on the few sacrifices you would have to make.
2. Don’t take it as a hobby
An online business and a hobby are two different things. A hobby is what you’d like to do during your free time. For example, I like to play games or enjoy sports during my free time. Building an online business is a totally different game where you have to set your goals right. Setting your goals should be the number one priority when starting up an online business.
For example, You set a goal to finish up building your website by 4 weeks, you would have to finish it by then. Whereas hobbies are something you’d do during your free time without a set goal. If you treat your online business as a hobby, procrastination will start to come in and nothing will get done in time. The point is, never treat your online business as an hobby.
3. Validate your idea
So what does it mean by validating your idea? If you have an online business plan right now, who do you ask for help? Do you share it with your friends, ask your family for help, colleagues or anyone else?
Here’s the thing, not every idea is great and according to a study, 42% of failed start-ups failed because they weren’t sure what the market needs and they were lacking what was actually needed in the current market situation. It doesn’t always mean if a product is doing well or that it’s currently the trend, you need to sell it too.
For a person who wants to create a business alongside marketing and selling the product well, passion should always be present. For example, if you’re only selling a certain product due to it being the current trend and not having the passion to do marketing and extra work in improving your business, it won’t really work out at the end of the day. Yes, you might have some short-term profit, but if you want to take it far, you would have to take a step back and think.
Remember that not every idea is wrong, but at the same time not all ideas are great. Get feedback and don’t be afraid to ask around. Just promote your idea! You’ll never know where you end up and who might be helping you out. So remember, validating your idea is important because you wouldn’t want to end up in that group 42% of start-ups mentioned.
4. Do not be stingy
Small investments are necessary to be made for your business. You don’t have to splash your money on a new office, a new table, a computer, etc. All these things wouldn’t help you achieve success in the long run. You need to make the right investments on things such as, getting a basic URL, because a website only takes about 10$ to maintain it and if you get the right name early, it might help in the long run too!
Also, outsource things if needed. For example, If my business needs some accounting help, I wouldn’t need to hire another accountant for maybe a month or two because that would cost a lot. There are many online applications that could help you do things for hourly rates. Let us look at Fiverr for instance. There are many choices for accounting, graphic design and much more expertise for a very low cost. Remember to spend wisely, but do not be stingy in spending for the benefit of your business.
5. Get a prototype, TEST! TEST! TEST!
If your product is a physical product or maybe even a service, you can start by conducting interviews with your customers. Get feedback from your friends and family. Conduct a survey, share it around on social media, etc. There are so many ways to approach potential customers to receive feedback before even starting your business. If you do not do any of these, you would not know if your product is any good to them, or maybe even in the market in general.
Creating a prototype and receiving feedback would really help your business improve. You would never know where one of the people who you’ve received feedback from had a good idea that could really help out your business.
Chances are if you’re working in a 9 till 5 job. You’ll be meeting people on a weekly or maybe even daily basis. Maybe you’ll meet with suppliers, other business partners, going to events and meeting people in the same industry, etc. Just go out and network, get to know these people more because you’ll never know that maybe one of these people might provide help to you and your business in the future.
But here’s where it gets a little complicated. Yes, these people might help you and you might need their contacts. But, you should NEVER blur the line between your work and your business. For example, you might think that this person is really helpful for your business and you want to contact him for your own personal business. Before you approach them, remember, If the relationship is meant for your current work, DO NOT mix it up and go against your contract of work. Most likely, you would have a contract that says you are not to interfere with your contacts from work with any outside interests.
These terms are normal within big corporations and YES, it’s wrong if you approach your current associates and talk with him about you wanting to do your own business. You would have to know their contact and know them better and they might help you in the future, but know the line and do not cross the border and affect your work.
These kinds of things could really jeopardize your chances of expanding your online business in the future. As Oprah once said, “You can have it all, but not all at once”.
Jeremy has been running several online businesses behind his laptop for the past 5 years and he has worked as a freelance web developer previously. A trained marketer by profession, he also has Ruby on Rails and web development knowledge. His forte lies in eCommerce, SEO and content marketing. He’s been featured on Vice, Thrive Global, YFS Magazine, Forbes and several other publications. He prefers to connect with people on LinkedIn.