How to Start an Online Business –
Basic Questions Answered

  • Comments: 12
  • Written on: March 11th, 2010

There are a million posts about how to start an online business on the Internet, but they all have an angle of some kind.  They are all pushing a product either directly or indirectly.

I received an email a couple days ago from a woman who had seen me in Next Internet Millionaire and wanted some advice on starting her own home based internet business.

Like many online entrepreneurs she was looking into buying the packages and the programs that promise fast results.  She wanted my advice on how to build a real online business that would make money.

I have purposely refrained from posting links to affiliate programs in this post or recommending specific products.

I am also withholding the emailer’s last name so she does not get deluged with offers from TONS of people out there with programs to offer.

With that said, if you genuinely want to help this person, make a comment below and let her know how to get in touch with you.  Here is her email:

Hi There Thor,

I found you via multiple internet clicks that ultimately landed me on the Next Internet Millionaire.

I watched a little of one of the episodes and you seemed to me to be the most genuine of the lot. That’s all interesting but you’re probably wondering why I’m writing to you.

I’m not looking to recruit you into any screwball thing, I guess mostly I’m looking for some advise / insight. I have my own home based business and I see lots of internet marketing, attraction marketing, magnetic marketing programs online and they all say they are the best.

They all say they have the “secret”. In fact one of your fellow contestants on the show Steve Shuitt along with a guy named Ryan Dunn are selling a “MLM Biz Builder Course”.

Even the show you were on is selling (and I see posted on your blog a contest to win) “The Secret Classroom” program.

I have purchased some of Tim Sales products and on Facebook I see lots of MLM’ers promoting themselves as ‘experts’ but in reality most of them don’t know any more than I do.

I do like Tim Sales approach and his products but other than just being friendly with strangers I’m not sure of the best way to get people who are looking for and open to a real work from home business in front of my product/opportunity.

Essentially how to drive traffic to a website and if there really is a tried and true way to do it on a budget.

I appreciate your feedback and wish you well.

Warm Regards,

Lanelle -Last Name Withheld-

This is what I told her:

Thanks for your email. Your question sounds easy enough, and if there was an easy answer I would give it to you right here. Unfortunately there is not.

Sometimes people online get so focused on pushing traffic to a site that they are willing do do anything, pay anyone, and believe anything to make it happen.

Most of the programs you buy are simply study at home courses that package and present information that is freely available on the Internet anyway. Don’t get me wrong, these packages can greatly speed up the deployment of your product and even increase its chances of a successful launch, but they are not a silver bullet.

There are three things that every business needs – Time, Money, and Differentiation. If you have any 2 of these in great supply, starting your work-from-home business is a snap. If you don’t have time, you can use money to buy other people’s time. If you don’t have money, you can use your own time. If you have differentiation your product is better than all of its competitors and you have either the time or money to let others know about it.

What happens a lot of time is that people get off the Time, Money, Differentiation track and get focuses on buying tools that allow them to get more Time, Money, or Differentiation. Time and Money spent on tools directly takes away from time and money that can be spent promoting your product.

While many people don’t believe it, there is no silver bullet shortcut to getting traffic. It takes time, content, and sometimes money to get your message out there.

With that said, the situation most new online entrepreneurs find themselves in is that they have little or no money, need to make money quickly, and they have an untested or unknown product.

Since there is no silver bullet, the best thing you can do as an entrepreneur is arrange the circumstances to give you the best possible chances of success. There are no guarantees, and the odds are 75% against you – but you know that going into it.

Here are the steps that I would do to get a product up and running as quickly as possible with little or no money:

1. You must have a good product. No amount of traffic, money or time can make up for a flawed product. To be a good, your product must fulfill a gaping need that the public has – whether they know they have it or not. Start with a specific problem that your product will resolve and then focus everything around your product from your marketing, design, videos, audio clips, and imagery toward showing people how your product solves their problem. If you find that your product doesn’t really solve a problem, or its a stretch at best to say it does, save your time and look for another problem to solve.

2. Get something online. Anything. Content first, beauty last. Now that you have a product that solves a real problem, start getting ranked in the search results. Use video, audio, images, local business center listings, press releases, blog posts, tweets, facebook posts, MSN spaces blog posts – anything you can do to get your message and backlinks out there without spamming.

As time goes on your talents and abilities will increase with every post, and every video you upload. You will learn the lessons you could have bought in some of the products you have looked into in the school of hard knocks. As your skills increase, your ability to communicate how it solves the specific problem will increase as well.

Traffic is a function of time because the more content you create the more traffic you will get. As time passes, your older content will gain traction and you will begin to see exponential results. Most online entrepreneurs pump out the content and then fizzle out. Those who keep going are the ones who succeed.

3. Stay Open to Opportunity. Best laid plans rarely work. Businesses are all run by people, and people who run successful businesses adapt to changing circumstances. You could build a year of content only to find that search engines changed a math formula and now all of your content has disappeared from search results. Some people faced with this would quit. Others would look back on their old content, revise it, and re-purpose it into new applications.

Time is never wasted. Old spent time can be used again and again to get results in the present. You just have to be loose enough to realize that things are changing so you can get back on top of the game again – and continue solving problems.

4. Look for Force Multipliers. Never stop talking to other people – especially within your industry. The more you stay involved with others the more you will learn about what they need to make their own projects succeed. You may even find that you can provide a resource to them that they need to help reach their goals. Likewise, the odds they can help you are good as well. By working together you can use all of their old time to push your current efforts while leasing your old time to push theirs.

Imagine how much more quickly you would get your product off the ground if you had three friends who instantly would help you by giving you access to their old time?

I hope this helps in some small way. Good luck!

  1. Nicole Price said on March 12th, 2010 at 12:05 am

    For a change, a post advising sensibly and without hype. Thank you.

  2. taoist meditation said on March 12th, 2010 at 3:11 am

    You have a lot more freedom but the cheats aren’t nearly as fun as the Sims 2 (turning your self into a robot then getting married!) Teen glamour and all that is just stuff, like clothes and furniture and don’t come with the actual game. Buying Open for Business or Nightlife allows you to play and gives you new things to do. Plus it comes with it’s own clothes and furniture.

  3. business it solutions said on March 12th, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Thanks, Denise, for the helpful recommendations about the video camera model, where to purchase, lighting (the video was helpful), and producing a series of videos.

  4. ryobi pressure washer said on March 12th, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Always the quick fix solutions end up being the costliest. We should all focus on doing the basics well to begin with. Thanks

  5. Net Age | Web Development said on March 14th, 2010 at 6:31 am

    The issue I have with most of these offers is that the information dispensed is nothing a bit of research wouldn’t have yielded the utter newb. For anybody who has been in the business a while it is clear that the opportunity is to sell your “secret” to as many fools as possible, before they wizen up…..

  6. used tires said on March 17th, 2010 at 12:57 am

    Great post, nice of you to help her out like this. Hope she finds what she’s looking for from one of us.

    Till then,

    Jean

  7. Finance Broker Perth said on March 29th, 2010 at 4:50 am

    I tend to think of online businesses in a slightly different way:

    lots of traffic + good conversion techniques + efficient and effective product/service delivery = a viable online business.

    Just a different way to look at it I guess.

  8. Scott@ Forex Robot said on March 31st, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    I like how you took the time to give you a straight-forward and long answer. People who are successful online are the ones who are willing to give information for free, and that’s why you’re successful.

  9. Migraine Causes said on April 14th, 2010 at 5:08 am

    Great Tips, and i like the “time, money and differentiation” part and totally agree with you.

  10. Forex Tips said on May 1st, 2010 at 10:50 am

    I bet this is one of the best tips online for newbies. Everyone nowadays are looking for quick buck and perceived internet marketing as an atm that can crank them money with the push of a button.

    It is time to face the reality and I am glad you are telling everyone the truth about making money online.

  11. FİLM izle said on May 1st, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Always the quick fix solutions end up being the costliest. We should all focus on doing the basics well to begin with.

  12. palletdozen said on March 15th, 2011 at 4:20 am

    Dude.. I’m not much into reading, but somehow I obtained to read a lot of articles on your web site. It is awesome how useful it is for me to take a look at your site very often.

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