Before You Get Started In An Online Business

If you have dreams of world travel, time with family, or days fishing on lazy rivers then you have probably considered starting an

online business to give you the freedom and money you want to turn those

Before You Get Started

dreams into reality.

Starting an online business can be easy and inexpensive. Starting an online business can also be complicated and expensive.

Here are five MUST DO items you should do before you get started and before spending a nickel on a startup:

  1. Find a market. This is sometimes referred to as defining your niche and is your all-important first step. Taking the time to define what areas you understand and are interested in before you get started will help narrow the market you will target. Trying to market to everyone on the Internet is not possible and will only lead to frustration Think about what you know, what are your interests, who do you know and hang around with? Are you in to fitness, making money online? Do you have a deep understanding of a particular software application? Are you an expert at antique airplanes or antique coins?
  2. Define your customers. You can’t be all things to all people. In the FREE ebook, Naked Marketing, Brian Clark from Copyblogger gives some great tips on how to determine who you want to market to.
  3. Find or develop a product that fills your defined customers’ needs. Now that you have defined your niche and who you’re interested in helping, find a need that hasn’t been filled for your target customers. If you have done step one correctly, you already may know of a product or service you’d like for the niche you’ve chosen. What is it that makes you ask, “Why isn’t there a…”?
  4. Do your research. You may have thought this was really the first place to start but until you have defined your market, know EXACTLY who your customer is, and identified a product or service you BELIEVE you customer needs there is no point in spending time researching a potential product or service. Much of the time a business will start with an assumption as to what is needed only to find after spending hours, days, or weeks developing a product or service the product or service exists. Take some time and Google your idea on Google Adwords to see if your idea is already covered to your customers’ satisfaction.
  5. Survey your potential customers. Google Docs offers you the ability to survey your potential customers for FREE before you get started and spend a lot of time on your new business. A SHORT survey asking the right questions can help you see whether your assumptions about what your target customers need is true…or not. Here’s an example of a short survey about a Yard Sale Kit: Yard Sale Survey

Before You Get Started

Spending a little time working the above five items can save you a LOT of time and frustration with starting your online business.

Chris Guillebeau in his book The $100 Startup gives a number of examples of startups who have used these five items to start successful businesses.

Further reading before you get started:

I tip my hat to Timothy Ferris and The 4-Hour Workweek for items 1-3.

A great FREE ebook, Naked Marketing is a MUST READ to help define your customers.

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, while generally aimed at larger startups, gives you some good background on doing your homework and working with your potential customers to give them what they REALLY need.

Give your customers what they need and you can travel the beaches of the world! See you there!

Here’s to your success!

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Keith is the resident writer and troublemaker at Empowered Pros.
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