Starting and growing an online business can be a very confusing and overwhelming experience. There are just not enough good resources out there to show you how to do it (not for free, anyway). You find yourself wallowing in outdated advice and short articles that lack depth. It’s all very frustrating!
If you are looking for actionable and in-depth advice from somebody in the know, then read on to find out all the steps you need to take to build and grow your online business starting right now.
In this article, we are going to look at 17 steps that every startup online business needs to take in order to go from zero (or one, or two, or three…) to six figures in a relatively short space of time.
Although there are no cookie-cutter means of starting a business online, there are certain proven processes that you can implement to help you get to where you want to be. You will need to do each of them your own way so that they work for your particular business.
But one thing’s for sure, if you follow the advice given here, you will be able to turn the simple words on this page into tangible income.
Let’s get started!
First Stage Tips: Build Your Foundation
1. Get Into The Right Mindset
If you don’t think that this piece of advice is important, then you’re probably going to have a hard time down the line. Your attitude should be one of success before you even get started. It’s okay that you don’t know exactly how everything will play out to get you to where you need to go, but for now, it should be enough just to know that SOMEHOW, you will get there!
An attitude of success will be invaluable throughout all the other steps that you have to take, from setting up the foundation right to the realization of your sixfigure income dream. Which brings us to the second step:
2. Set Clear Goals
This (and the next few steps outlined here) is the basic foundation and platform for your online business. They will help you start your business the right way and secure your success for the future. This is advice that all aspiring online entrepreneurs need (but seldom ever take…)
Doing this part will save you lots of stress down the line. So set very clear goals that you can work towards. After all, without a goal, you’re going to find it very hard to score, right? – OK, Paul Arden said that not me, but you get the point.
I’m guessing one of your main goals is money, and that ‘six-figure online business’ sounds really good to you right now. But what are your other goals? What excites you? What drives you forward? Write it all down. Use SMART goals. Trust me, as uninspired and unoriginal as it sounds, it actually works.
How to Set SMART Goals
- S for Specific: Be very clear about what exactly you want. Don’t use vague words and phrases like ‘I want to be the best in my niche’. Rather opt for more specific terms like, ‘I want to generate $150,000 in sales within 12 months’.
- M for Measurable: How are you going to know when you’ve achieved your goal? Make your goals measurable so that you can tell that you’re headed in the right direction, and you’ll know when you get there.
- A for Aspirational: This can also be ‘Achievable’ but aspirational sounds better and is a lot more beneficial. This means that rather than setting goals that you KNOW you can achieve, why not add 25% to that, and set that as your goal? Often when we set such goals, we tend to surprise ourselves by how much more we’re actually capable of achieving.
- R for Realistic: If you’re a 60-year old man with arthritis, the only way you’re going to achieve a goal of being a starting quarterback in the NFL is if you buy the team! Make your goals realistic, but keep the previous tip in mind. Know what is within your reach, but also realize that what you think is your reach can be exceeded. You probably won’t get to that six-figure business within your first year of business, but it’s very possible to do so over five years, isn’t it?
- T for Time Bound: Make sure each one of your goals has a time frame in which you’re going to achieve it. You can make each goal short, medium, or even long term. It all depends on the goals you’re setting.
It doesn’t take that long to figure out what your goals are. And don’t worry about getting them right because you can always tweak them as you go. But do take the time, in the beginning, to sit and think about what exactly it is that you want to achieve as this will be a major determining factor in your level of success in the future.
It is one of the things that will help you maintain a positive attitude as well as give you focus and direction as you go about your daily processes.
3. Determine Your Ideal Audience
In this step, you have to find your focus. In as much as goals help you to focus your time and effort, this step involves finding the people that you’re going to focus that time and effort on. You need to get to know your audience in detail.
- Who are they?
- What makes each of them tick?
As a brand, you’ll have to deliver a particular set of concepts to a specific type of customer. Your job right now is to determine WHO it is that you’ll be appealing to. At this point in the process of building your business, it can be very tempting to try to appeal to everyone. But don’t give in to that.
When it comes to online business, if you speak to everyone, you’ll be heard by no one. You need to focus on a ‘niche’, a targeted group of people that you can serve. Answer the following questions to help yourself gain more clarity on what you’re trying to create, as well as who you’re creating it for:
- What niche are you in?
- Who do you want to serve?
- Why do you want to work with them?
- Who are you trying to appeal to?
- What makes you stand out from all the others?
- What do you value more than others?
- What do you do differently than others?
Answering these and similar questions will help you to begin to build a lovable brand. So take the time to analyze who you are, who you want to work with, and what you bring to the table. Say no to everything that doesn’t fit your focus and your goals and you will find success within much less time.
4. Network, Network, Network
Building relationships is one of the best things that you can do to help ensure your success in the future. Tim Ferriss said, ‘Your network is your net-worth’, and those words have never been truer than when you’re first starting out online.
The relationships that you build now (before you need them) are going to prove to be the most important. Reach out to people. Offer them help, and lots of value. Get that foot in the door. Even if that day never comes when you actually need them, it’s good to build and grow those relationships anyway.
5. Create Your Brand Identity
As cliché as it sounds, people do buy from people they know and like. Your brand is going to be your promise to all your customers about the value you deliver. Through your brand, people will get to know, like, and trust you, your business, and your products or services.
They will learn to associate you with high-quality content and they will know that you deliver results every single time. Of course, with every good brand there will be people who don’t like you and what you stand for (there always are…) but forget about those people, and only focus on your audience.
When branding your business, you need to decide on the following:
- What is your promise?
- What do you value (and what does your audience value?)
- What does your brand stand for?
- What’s your voice?
Pick your fight, then run with it!
Once you’ve done that, you now have a base to build on. Now you can focus on creating your slogan, logo, domain name, and all the other things that make your brand tangible.
6. Take Risks
Try not to imitate what you already see out there, but rather innovate! Not taking risks won’t get you anywhere in this business. If you want to run a successful (six-figure) online business, then you have to accept that you may have to take some risks. Your neck’s going to have to be on the line now and again.
Don’t be scared to overhaul, challenge, or change stuff in your niche. Just because everyone does it a certain way doesn’t mean you need to do it like that, too. Pave your own path whenever possible.
Some of the ideas that we have that never see the light of day because of our ‘yeah, but’ may be the ones to take us to success. They could be the ones that leave the biggest impact on our audience. So don’t be scared to run with your ideas.
Most people who start the online marketing journey don’t make it (and by ‘make it’ I mean to generate a full-time income from it).
So rather than try and blend in with everyone else, why not look for ways to innovate in your own business? Take what others have done, learn from it, and then build upon it. Or even turn it on its head – give it your own unique spin!
You don’t need everyone to love your ideas. Just the people you’re focusing on. And with the right goals and focus, you’ll be able to find them easily.
Second Stage Tips: Get Your Business Off The Ground
Once you’ve got all the basics nailed down, it’s time to transform your dreams into the tangible business with real, actual income. The following steps are (obviously) going to take time and a lot of effort to achieve. But it can be done.
You’ve got the foundation set up, and this part is where you form the backbone of your business. You’ll also find a couple of effective money-saving tips to help you get off to a great start financially.
7. Get Your Business Online
The first thing you have to in this stage is to get online. I’m guessing that you already know the basics, so no lessons about sucking eggs here. But just in case you need a bit of help, or a refresher course, then there’s tons of content on my blog to help you out. You can also check out my Introductory course to learn all you need to know in order to get started in Digital Marketing the right way.
Okay, so you know you need a website to make money, right?
But luckily, you don’t have to break the bank to start generating an income online. Just focus on the most important things, at first. For instance, is your site designed to look professional? Are people going to be impressed when they land on your page and are they going to feel comfortable doing business with you?
The design of your site is very important. It’s going to be the first impression that people have of you, and if it’s terrible, then the odds of those visitors staying (let alone doing business with you) are going to be slim.
The really important thing is that you make sure that your site is functional.
There’s no point in having a sexy design if your visitors can’t even navigate your site to find what they’re looking for. They’re just going to leave and never come back. So put ‘functional’ first, but try your best to make it unique and eye-catching, too.
These are 7 of the most important tips to help you get from zero to six figures in your online business, but they are far from the only ones. In the next post, we are going to look at 10 more tips to help you create your business backbone, and then move to the next step. So stay tuned!
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