Online business, digital business, or digital entrepreneurship are used variously to refer the doing business on the internet. This form of business has become a go-to venture for many people these days all in the quest for financial freedom. They are right! The internet has opened up a gold mine of opportunities, and a lot of expectations. Many newbie digital entrepreneurs envisage a smooth takeoff and an autopilot after takeoff. Indeed when I was researching into the online business, I came across several such promises. That is far from the truth. Stuart Ross, the co-founder of The Six Figure Mentors, made this clear at the very outset of our sessions and repeatedly made the point that it requires commitment, diligence, and hard work to succeed. So let us take a look at some of the prerequisites to succeed in the digital business.
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Some newcomers think that online business does not require a business plan. NO! Everything in life requires planning, and that includes online business. If for nothing at all, you should have a plan that clearly states your goals. Ask yourself what you expect from the business, what you intend to offer, and if there is a market for your products or service. If the market does not exist, ask yourself if you can create a market for your product or service. Indeed, all the requirements for a good business plan in the traditional system must be considered. Besides, you must consider how to assure and provide your target market with quality products and services. You should also consider putting in place a good customer support program, and an effective cybersecurity architecture. Ask yourself what legal requirements do you have to follow?
Some people think that online business does not require a lot of time. Contrary to that opinion, the newbie needs a lot of time to learn and understand the dynamics of online business. Some even think that if you have money, you can hire people to do the hard work for you. My view is that you need to understand what is to be done before you engage workers.
You even have to decide whether you want to engage in it as a full-time online business or as a part-time. For a start, you may be able to do it part-time alongside your regular work. But as the business begins to grow, you may need to devote your full attention to ensure its continued success. It may be unwise to continue to have divided attention between your regular job and the online business. The question then is when is it right to quit your job and concentrate on your online business? Some say between 6 to 12 months of consistent growth in your business. For me, the right time is dependent on several factors including your financial objectives. You can quit your job if you think the business is properly established, with a good stream of income sufficient to replace your earnings from your job and cater to your extra needs.
Finances or Startup Capital
It is true that you may require very little startup capital. But merely building your business without the means to promote it is like having a drinking water shop in the middle of the desert expecting that desert dwellers will discover your water shop. If you don’t promote it, it may never be known, and you may never get customers.
For potential customers to know about your digital business, and eventually become your customers, you have to draw them to your Digi market. This will require some funding for you to acquire the needed tools and equipment, to promote your site, and to develop your content. So you need to make provision to fund all these aspects of the business.
I have stated elsewhere that you don’t require complex technology to start an online business, neither do you need to be a tech genius to do so. Despite this, you still need some basic knowledge of ICT and its applications. You cannot successfully engage in the internet if you are internet illiterate. You also need some basic tools such as a computer, and good internet. A simple laptop or tablet may just be fine.
In the beginning, choosing to host your business using cloud services may be a wise option. You can choose to host with the Digital Business Lounge or any other web hosting provider. When the business grows, you can choose to continue on the cloud services or build your own platform. The choice is yours, but you should make the judgment based on your business needs, and your long-term goals.
There is no gainsaying that you need to put in place a good marketing strategy to promote your business. The mere fact that you are on the internet is not enough. Imagine having a tiny shop in a very busy shopping district without any signposts to the shop. Chances of potential customers locating the shop are very slim or practically nonexistent. The owner of such a shop needs to determine his target market, plan how to reach the customers, and how to offer services them. The online business is no different from this shop. See the online market as one huge shopping district with all kinds and sizes of businesses competing for the attention of your target. To get the attention of your target, you need to put in strategies to locate them, and introduce your products or services to them. You can do this through various channels of digital advertising or social media platforms. But it doesn’t mean that you must necessarily be present on all social media platforms. You need to identify where most of your target market is and concentrate your marketing efforts there.
There is no better advert than that of a satisfied customer who goes out to sing the praises of your product and your customer service. Much the same way, a dissatisfied customer can become the Achilles heel of your business. Indeed, bad news on the internet goes viral in a matter of minutes. So you need to have a good customer service plan in place to attend to customer queries and complains. Treat your customers as the royals that they are. Remember it is said that the customer is king. I dare add that the customer is Queen too.
One good marketing strategy to reach your target market is to provide them with compelling content on their interest areas. Well-written content educates your prospective customers on the value of your products and services. There are various ways to deliver this content in the form of blog posts, videos, webinars, and podcasts among others.
It is for the above reason that some say content is everything. The counter argument is that there already exists tons of content on the internet and so there is little need for more content. This may be true, but the main purpose of content writing or publishing is to direct traffic to your website through funnels. This way, you are able to continue to offer more information to your prospects and get them to move from just clicking on your site to assessing your offer and eventually converting into buyers.
Trust & Security
No Instant Success
Some people think that online business creates instant internet millionaires. That is very far from the truth. Some even think that online business owners are globe trotters who can just jump onto the plane at will and fly to any destination of their choice. Simply because the business is online, you have the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere around the globe. This, therefore, means that you can literally globe trot if you have made significant earnings to be able to pay the bills.
So before you can begin to globe-trot, you need to make a decent profit. Instant success is not a guarantee. It takes diligence and passion. A giant like Amazon took nearly 10 years of operations before it reported real profit in 2003. So don’t be fooled into thinking that once you start your online business you’ll become an instant success. It does not also mean that because the business does not turn out profits almost immediately then it is not a success. No! The fact that you have started delivering value to your target is enough to prove your success. The profits will follow once there is consistency.
Online Business Success Prerequisites
If you want to be a successful online entrepreneur, you have to give serious consideration to the points I raised above. You have to have a good business plan and make time for the business. Even though an online business may not require a ton of startup funds, you need to make some initial financial commitments to the business. You also do not need to be a tech genius, but it important to have the basic knowledge of using the computer and surfing the internet.
Having a good marketing strategy, a well-defined customer service system, and compelling content in its various forms are the things needed to drive traffic to your business. And when your targets click on your website, they need to be assured that your site can be trusted to have the necessary security that protects their personal data.
You should also be mindful that online business success is not a day’s event. Success comes over time, with hard work, passion, diligence, and dedication to the business. So enter the online business world with an open mind. Along the line, you may have your doubts. That is normal, but remember that winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win!
Are you ready?
Let’s take the plunge!