Want to hear a fun fact? Last year 1.79 billion people shopped online.
While that number is huge, it isn't surprising because all you have to do is look out your window at people walking by and they're looking down at their phones.
The Internet is taking over our lives at this point. I'm not going to sit here and argue if it's right or if it's wrong, but the way of the world today is that the Internet is a huge part of our lives.
This started to impact me a few years ago.
I had my daughter. I was working outside of my home. I started to feel like I was just losing myself in all of this.
I felt like I was constantly giving to my job. I was giving to my child. I was giving to my marriage. I was giving to my house and even to my dog.
I was just giving parts of me and I felt like I didn't have anything for me that was just for me. I started to think “what can I do?”
While I loved the company I was working for and I loved the product, the truth of the matter was that I was commuting 45 minutes. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't going to work for me long term.
That's when I decided to start a business working for myself where I could work from home and just have a little bit more control over my schedule, my flexibility because ultimately I wanted to get rid of that 45-minute commute.
I looked into a number of different business models and what I came up with was that this online business thing was going to be the best choice for me. It was going to give me the most flexibility and it was something that was right up my alley.
Starting at this online business thing was going to be the best choice for me. It was going to give me the most flexibility and it was something that was right up my alley.
I sat down, and I put a rough business plan together about what I was going to do. I was able to create an online business for myself. I now help other moms figure out how to do the same thing for themselves and it's a lot of fun for me.
I enjoy what I do. I am so excited every day to jump out of bed, to just get to it and to get to work. It's something that I don't dread Mondays anymore. I actually love Mondays. Mondays means it's time to get to work in my business, to do what I do best.
Identify the Gap
The first thing that you need to do is find a gap in the market. A great business idea is to start an online store.
Maybe you're super crafty or perhaps you love the idea of designing something and you're super creative and artistic. Maybe you get into dropshipping where you create designs and someone else prints those designs and ships them to your customers. Maybe an online store is a good idea for you and that can be done in a number of ways.
It might be that you use a lot of products in your life, so you decide to go through affiliate marketing.
The way that that works is you get an affiliate link from the company that you're an affiliate for and maybe write a blog post about a particular product or service and then you put your affiliate link in there and of course you disclose it all because we like to do things on the up and up.
And once you do that if someone clicks on your affiliate link and purchases the product, you get a percentage of the cost. It doesn't increase the cost for the customer, but it does essentially give you an advertisers fee (or a finder's fee is how I like to view it).
Maybe you decide that you want to get into web design, and this is a great example of an online business for moms.
This is something that I help to teach to other moms, to teach them how to have that web design business. It is super flexible. It does have low startup costs and there's a lot of benefits to it.
You find that gap in the market where you say, I've got this great business idea. There are people out there who are looking for web designers and there are people out there who are looking for someone to help them with their website.
There are people out there who want to buy things. I mean, come on now 1.79 billion people are shopping online. Maybe you have the ability to put out a product that they want and they're going to purchase. In terms of affiliate marketing we're all about reviews these days. So those are a few ideas for finding that gap.
Find Your Audience
The next thing that you want to do is to find your target audience.
This is where you want to say, “who is it that I'm serving? Who is it that I most want to work with?”
Answering those questions are going to help you with your branding, with your messaging, with everything. You want to make sure that you take the time to define your target audience.
Decide on a Name
Next, you need to choose a name. This is the fun part. I typically will recommend that if someone is thinking in terms of a name and they're providing a service you can get creative.
Certainly, creativity can be valued but you also want to make sure that you're not too creative in that no one actually knows what you do.
You want to make sure that your name is so clear that everybody that sees it will instantly know what it is that you do.
For my business, for my web design business, I've been using my name, which I think is a great thing to incorporate by the way.
Decide on the Legal Pieces
Next you need to decide if you want to be an LLC or if you want to file to be a corporation. You may also freelance and do everything as a sole proprietorship under yourself.
Now, there are pros and cons to all of these things. I'm not a lawyer so I don't know what's going to be right for you, but I have decided to become an LLC.
I got some advice from a financial advisor to become an LLC. I have filed with my state. Every state is different. That is why when people find out that it costs $500 to file for an LLC in Massachusetts, if they're from the great state of Delaware, they're going to be surprised because it is inexpensive in Delaware.
If your fees are not $500 be thankful you live where you live. You do need a physical address in the state that you will be filing and if you want to go that route, it's something to look into at the start.
If you decide that's not the route you want to go then that's perfectly fine. You can do business as yourself. That's not a problem.
Just be aware that you don't have a lot of legal protections. All of your personal assets (from my understanding) become something that could potentially come up in a lawsuit and be named as an asset.
If you have a house, if you have a car, just think about how much you want to protect that.
Build a Website
The next thing that you want to do is build a great website. I often see people who will recommend “no, no, no, just get a Facebook page. Nope, that's all you want to do, and I think if you're validating an idea and you don't want to invest a lot of capital”. But I disagree.
If you're a coach specifically that can be a great way to handle things. That being said if you're going to be offering virtual assistant services, if you're going to be offering web design services you absolutely need a great website.
Any type of online store, any type of real online business will never fully succeed without a great website.
Any type of online store, any type of real online business will never fully succeed without a great website.
I want you to think about it this way. Let's say for example that you want to hire someone to fix your car. You're hiring a mechanic.
Maybe this is a mechanic that comes to you. The service that they offer is that they come to you and do whatever you need done in your driveway.
I know mechanic that used to offer this service and it was great because you need an oil change, great. I didn’t have to think about scheduling things and getting to his garage.
The mechanic (generic mechanic) pulls up in an old beat-up truck. The truck is making all sorts of awful noises and you're sitting there thinking, “who is this person pulling in to do work on my car when their own car can't can barely run?” You know what this isn't going to work for me.”
At that point, you've decided not to hire them and there's a big old oil stain right in your driveway. That's not going to be a pleasant experience and it's the same thing when it comes to having an online business and not having a great website.
You're telling people that you’re not going to invest in a website. I'm not saying that you need to hire a web designer. I'm not saying that you need to invest a lot of money, but you should be willing to invest in things like your own domain.
Not having yourbusinessname.wordpress.com or .wix.com you need to have that authority. You need to show that you're willing to invest in your business.
Once you have these basic building blocks in place, it's time for you to get serious in your online business.
You're going to use your website, your social media profiles, and your networks to start getting yourself out there.
The best way to do that is to tell great stories. Tell great stories on your website. Tell great stories on your social media profile. Use stories as a way to draw people into your business.
There's a reason why we continue to go to the movies even though the plot for so many movies out there is pretty much the same thing. We still go to those movies and we still see them all the time.
If you watched Disney’s "The Lion King," it's a rip-off of Shakespeare. It's Macbeth. I love Macbeth, awesome play. Essentially "The Lion King" is Macbeth only Disney put a happy ending on it.
When it comes down to it, you want to tell great stories because if you can tell a great story people will show up no matter what the basic premise is behind it. You want that good story to help draw people in.
The next thing that you want to do is drive traffic and so you're going to drive traffic initially through things like social media. It’s the best place to start.
Eventually however, you want that search engine traffic. That's SEO (search engine optimization) that you're going to hear thrown around a lot.
Essentially what that means is that when someone goes to a search engine like Google and they type something in such as, "How do I start an online business?", you want your website and your blog post or podcast or YouTube video, to come up in the search results.
That is the best kind of traffic you can get. When you do these things, you start to drive traffic to your website. Also, keep in mind that traffic is just people who are coming to your website.
If you've built your website the right way, then that traffic will convert for you, which means that those people will take the action that you want them to take whether that's getting on a mailing list, purchasing a product or signing up for one of your services or booking a discovery call with you.
Position Yourself as an Authority
The next thing that you want to do as you're working on driving that traffic is you need to position yourself as an authority. If you want to make money online and if this is something that you want to do full-time, you have to position yourself as someone who knows what they're doing.
You need to have that authority, you need to tell stories of how you've helped other people or how your products have helped other people. You need to tell a beautiful story of your product through your brand photography and messaging.
Small business owners everywhere are trying to position themselves as an authority. The more that you can do to put yourself out there as that expert the better off you're going to be.
Start an Email List
Next, you need to make sure that you're creating an email list and that you focus on building your following.
Social media doesn’t count. What happens if tomorrow Facebook decides to close? Unlikely? Yes, of course. I don't see Facebook going away anytime soon, but you never know.
Think about people who may be on Myspace, thought Myspace was going to be around forever and built up a great following there but then once my space went away what are they left with?
Email lists are something that you own. You can download them to your computer. You need to have an email list, something that you own.
If Facebook were to shut down tomorrow or you go someplace else and start marketing someplace else you want the ability to turn around and email all of your contacts and your followers and say, "Hey, this is where I'm hanging out now."
Define Your Offer
Finally, when it comes to your online business you want to make sure that you have something you can offer people. A lot of times we'll talk about a potential customer coming to your website and you sell some type of service.
If you only sell one service your business isn't going to grow large because once people have that service that's over, it's done. Maybe they use you as a monthly retainer but you're limited.
You want to be able to create those upsells and down sells to attract more clients and customers and I don't mean to sound odd in this, but you want to be able to get more out of your current customers.
You want to give them more options. Do they like your service? Give them an upsell. Is someone not ready to commit to a $500 course? Well, give them the down sell of offering them a payment plan. Things like this can help explode your online business.
To Wrap It Up...
In a nutshell that is how to start your own online business. If you have any questions about this, I do offer one hour consult calls and I'm happy to talk to you about it.
Don't forget to pop in to my free Facebook group Tea with Jennifer with tutorials of fun community and deeper dives into the tech of your online business. We can't wait to see you there.
I'm a software engineer with nearly 10 years of experience in software and website development. I help women entrepreneurs with their website and technical business needs. I specialized in user experience and conversions.
I empower moms like me to run their website with confidence and feel in control of their business, all while juggling #momlife at the same time.