7 Simple Ways to Help Your Online Business Not Fail
While I’m hard at work finishing an eKit that I think you will love (this one’s for the bloggers, yo), I thought I’d revisit a past, favorite topic of mine . . . not failing at online business. Because. Let’s be honest. It can be overwhelming and intense. So I have some quick tips for you today to get you thinking:
We all know to choose a business we love and are willing to consistently learn more about. Interest in a topic and passion for people keeps our motivation high. Therefore, we need a serious love of our online product or blog categories, a desire to make our clients’ lives better, plus resolve and hard work to get through slumps in business or creativity. Check.
You’ve got passion already, else you wouldn’t care to read this post. So, here are seven things you can do now, like two seconds ago now, to help your online business or blog not fail or become sucktacular (Get it? sucky in a spectacular way = sucktacular. Brilliant. I know. And yes, I will keep sticking “tacular” on the ends of words then explaining myself. Don’t be craptacular about it, okay?)
1. Start sooner.
I love you and all dear blogger (slash) small business owner, but you are too much of a perfectionist if you don’t start sooner. There are key elements you need in your blog design and layout: newsletter signup, easy-to-understand navigation, some professional graphics, and some compelling copy. However, if you spend an extra 1.5 to 6 months stressing about the color changes you want made, the slight font change you want on the About page, and the ½ inch skooch up you want the image on the Services page to get, you are missing the point and missing the opportunity to connect with an audience who doesn’t care about (or notice) those things in the first place.
Keys to starting sooner (for notorious over-planners):
- Try a soft launch first. When your site/product/whatevs is basically done, launch it to a group of friends, interested past clients, associates, other bloggers, whoever might be interested. If you get feedback about that ½ inch skooch that your picture needs, then you can feel justified to spend time on it. You’ll get valuable feedback from real people, and you’ll have a product to sell or blog to market. #winning
- Learn how to create your own blog now, or connect with your blog designer early on. Do not wait. If you even suspect that you are going to want a few months to get everything “just right,” then make sure you hire someone or learn how to do it yourself now. As long as you know what your product is, what your goal is, and the type of impression you want to leave (professional, fun, authoritative, etc.), you have enough material to go on.
You need a product and/or web presence as soon as humanly possible. Do it. You’re thinking too much if you’re offering up reasons in your head of why you can’t do this right now.
2. Identify a real problem.
Don’t start just any business. Find a problem that exists first, then solve that problem. I was doing micro business consulting when I realized that most of my clients had the same desire: they wanted the steps to start a blog (or business, or other project) broken down into simple tasks. There was too much unapproachable and frankly uncool material on launching a project.
People don’t want theory or rhetoric, they want to know exactly how to accomplish their goals. So, my blog, services/packages, my book, the classes I teach in real life, and my online courses are built like that. I think it’s working. If you disagree, hold your opinion until I get back from Jedi Mind Trick School (JMTS). You’ll see things my way very soon. Muwahhh hah haaaa.
What’s a problem you can identify? Do you connect with lots of moms who can’t find enough playgrounds or interesting activities for their children with special needs? Do you know other married men or women who lack the motivation to get healthy because they love junk eating too much? How can you make it simple or desirable for these people to see the results they really want?
Start a business/blog you care about that solves a real problem. Otherwise, you will have too much competition to get noticed and/or too few interested people to buy what you sell . . . or . . . you’ll run out of quality content to write in a month or two. Don’t be that blogger.
3. Build epic content. Build cornerstone content.
You have passion, you’re ready to solve real problems, now you need epic and helpful content to gain your audience’s attention, then their trust, then their dolla dolla bills.
How do you build epic content? Start to answer some of those questions your potential clients have. Answer them for free. Fill a need. Start blogging, yesterday. A 400-word post won’t always be enough to help your readers. Sometimes they might need 2,000 words, or a video. Google’s search engine will show you love if you write long-form content and use other types of media. Cornerstone content is epic content that you want your brand to become known by. Examples of mine might be Creating a Blog Business Plan + 33 Things to Do When You’re Ready to Get Serious About Blogging. Make it helpful, make it shareable, use as much space as you need in order to add real value to your readers’ lives.
What do you wish you had known when you first started out? Give your audience tips to avoid pitfalls (that’s what I’m doing with this post–so please, avoid my mistakes). What are the best ways for your audience to save money or time or (whatever they care about) while pursuing their interests? Tell them, yo. Tell them for free, because soon you’ll be able to charge (read below). Just settle into your voice and use it often, pick the type of media you will use to communicate, and go! Try new blog post types to discover what’s best for you and your audience. Trial and error and feedback will show you what works and what sucks.
4. Sell something sooner.
Since you’re already connecting with your target market (on your blog, or in real life, or on your job), you have a good idea of what they want. So, write that Budgeting for Single Moms eBook, or develop that How to Start a Clothing Boutique video course, or start to sell the custom tables you make out of reclaimed wood. Making quality products can take practice. Get your first products out there and listen to feedback as you refine your offerings for the future.
There’s a place for making sure everything you do is of the highest quality at all times, but a successful business owner will always make mistakes and learn from them. Find a comfortable point in between “I don’t know if it’s quite ready, but it’s definitely pretty valuable,” and “This is as done and perfect as any product will ever be. Ever.” Marie Forleo talked about her first workshop that was just a little bit terrible here: Why It’s Smart to Start Small and/or Sucky.
If you think you have launched the perfect product, then (pause for a second here, will you?–sorry, needed a laughing break) . . . you are thinking wrong. There will always be improvements you can make. It’s cool. It’s what Second Editions are for. Launch sooner and you will know if you have a viable product + you will actually have something to promote and love.
5. Do not do everything yourself.
I get it. You are literally Superman. You write, sing, design amazing graphics, and you built your 10-bedroom house with your bare hands, in a weekend. Lovely, bruh. You’re amazing. However, it’s easy to get in superhero mode and thus cause things to take a lot longer than they need to.
Where can you save time?
- Need graphics? Hire a professional. I recommend a seasoned designer, but you can often find someone on fiverr.com for $5, or use a service like Microlancer or 99Designs to get good work done. Let someone else take on certain tasks so you can instead create the product you’re selling in point four above.
- Need administrative work done? Hire a virtual assistant, or, hmm, I don’t know, someone from fiverr.com again.
- Need to know you’re not crazy for pursuing entrepreneurship? Need people to bounce ideas off of? Find a group of like-minded people on the Internet, make some BBFs, or reach out through community organizations or classes, or at conferences. Get around people who will reassure you, correct you, and support you like you’ve never seen before. Your family and friends love you (I think), but if they don’t understand this entrepreneur mindset, they can’t be your whole support system.
6. Get a side hustle-ish.
Find a way to expand what you offer/do so that you have more than one stream of revenue (ex: signing up for affiliate advertising programs, starting a membership website to share your expertise, etc.). Here are 10 ways to monetize your blog specifically.
Don’t be afraid to work on additional, complementary ideas as a way to gain more experience, make key contacts, or make extra money to support yourself or your business while you’re getting your online company started. She who depends on only one stream of income is she who . . . I don’t know . . . you finish that sentence, but make it somewhat bleak, because it’s no bueno my friends.
7. Stay focused.
You may think this is some lazy, fluff point I put at the end of my post to fill space. No my friends. No, it’s not. This is something I struggled with and see a lot of others have a hard time with. If you get a side hustle, try to make it something complementary to your main hustle. A lack of focus is your enemy, but a side hustle can be your friend as you pay your bills and expand your empire. But, in general:
Stay focused long enough to create the heck out of an epic product that you can sell. Stay focused long enough to finish that blog post. Do not let creative flex rule your life. It’s so easy to get distracted by (insert your Internet poison here–mine are business research, Facebook, and Jennifer Aniston updates) . . . it’s simple to get caught riding the wave of a new idea when we haven’t finished the last one. It’s simple to be ineffective, because let’s be honest, without concerted focus and action, our lives tend toward chaos.
Just remember the way your kitchen (or car) looked the last time you got busy and didn’t clean it for a few days, maybe weeks. That’s how your business, product, blog, or idea will look unless you stay freaking focused friends (or SFFF, as I like to call it).
So, (1) congratulate me for writing a somewhat short post y’all, and (2) what is something that has held you up from your online business before? What is something else you’d recommend? What is your favorite Star Wars film? These are all pertinent questions.
Until next time, peoples!
Author: Regina Anaejionu
Image: © Trinette Reed