It’s Not Too Late to Start Your Online Business

You’ve always had an idea for a business, and finally you have the opportunity to make it a reality. The problem is, you don’t know how to get started and you’re worried that it’s too late.

Don’t worry, it’s not too late and you’ll get some ideas on how to get started in this article and throughout this blog.

At the time of publishing this article, we’re in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, and at this point, everyone is a content creator. 

What does this mean for you? Right now, you can put out content that’s imperfect because you’re not the only one figuring it out.  Everyone is still figuring it out. You’re in good company.

Now is the perfect opportunity because the internet is more forgiving than ever before (except if you’re a celebrity complaining about being quarantined in your mansion). ⤵️

For us normal folk, because there are more people confined to their homes during this COVID-19 crisis, you have the chance to get more eyeballs on your stuff.

How Should You Get Started?

If you’re wondering how, the key is imperfect action.

Right now, imperfect action is better than perfect inaction.

Start an online business with imperfect action is better than perfect inaction

This has been the hardest lesson for me to learn because I’m a perfectionist. I like for things to be done right and well.

As one of my former colleagues who works for a church says, “No junk for Jesus!” Amen!

However, I’ve learned it’s better to get something out that you can improve upon than to work away in your lab, tinkering and tweaking for so long that it’s irrelevant by the time you hit “publish”.

But before we even go there, we probably need to take it back to the beginning.

Let’s do an audit.

The first question I want to ask you is:

Do People Care about Your Idea?

We all make (or have made) the mistake of building the website, coming up with the perfect name, designing the logo, reserving the social media accounts and getting t-shirts made before we’ve actually gauged the interest of our potential customers.

🙋🏿Guilty as charged!

So, as your honest friend, let me ask you,

Do people care about the problem you’re trying to solve?

It’s beneficial to figure this out well before you invest a lot of time, energy and money into the idea.

How to Tell if People Care about Your Idea

There are a few ways you can gauge people’s interest in your idea. If you keep reading, I’ll share three of them with you.

Method #1 – Go with Your Gut

  1. First, think of three different questions, challenges or struggles you hear people express in your area of speciality. How can you answer their questions? How can you fulfil a need they are expressing?
  2. Take some time to write out the answers to the questions or challenges you identified in step one.
  3. After you’ve written (and proofread) your answers, create a simple one-page giveaway. You can use a service like Canva to create this, or you can create a Word or Pages document and then PDF it. (Click here to see an example of how I did this.)
  4. Let your target audience know about the three giveaways you’ve created and ask them which one interests them the most. Take note of the interest in your free giveaway. Decide which one of your giveaways has the most demand. While it’s not scientific research, it should point you in the right direction of how many people are interested in each offer.
  5. Share your free giveaway with people who need it. Ask them for an email address to send it to and ask if you can keep in touch with them. Naturally, you’ll be creating more great resources that will benefit them in the future.

Method #2 – Ask Them Straight Up

  1. The second way to gauge people’s interest in your idea is to reach out to some of the people you want to serve and ask them straight up – “What’s your biggest challenge related to __________”. “What are you struggling with the most related to _______________?” Just ask them straight up.
  2. Based on what the majority of your audience answered in Step #1, create a simple giveaway to help them with their biggest challenge. Use a service like Canva or Word or Pages to create a PDF-ed document to give them.
  3. Follow-up with the people you surveyed in Step #1 and others who you think you might be able to serve and offer them your free giveaway.
  4. Ask if you can keep in touch by e-mail when you have other things to resource them with. Voila!

Method #3 – Do a Little Research

  1. The third method requires some digging and a little less interacting so if you enjoy working in the background, this method, while not as direct, could be for you. To figure out what you audience needs, go to websites like Quora.com, Answerthepublic.com, Reddit.com or Facebook groups related to your topic and check to see the types of questions people are asking related to your area of speciality.
  2. Create a resource that answers a primary challenge identified in those groups.
  3. Identify 20 people who might need the answer to the challenge you identified and offer them the free resource in exchange for their e-mail address.
  4. Ask them if you can keep in touch with them so you can send them additional resources when you have them.

Resources for Knowing if Anyone Cares about Your Ideas

There are many, many other ways to validate your ideas, and many people who have worked to address this issue. One source I love is Pat Flynn’s Will it Fly, How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Time and Money.

(By the way, this link is an Amazon affiliate link so I get a small commission if you purchase the book. I’ve listened to Will it Fly on audiobook, which makes it a lot easier to keep my hands free — with a kid climbing all over me. It’s a great book!)

Setting up an E-mail List

If you noticed in the earlier section, How to Tell if People Care About Your Idea, I mentioned collecting e-mail addresses three times. This is because it’s important to have a way to get in touch with your audience.

While social media followers are a promising start, it’s important to have a list of people you can regularly reach out to. And one of the best ways to do this is through a mailing list.

You can use email services like

  1. Mailchimp
  2. Constant Contact
  3. AWeber

If you’re curious about how to set-up an e-mail list, you can visit my article, “How to Set-up an E-mail List” or visit the article “What to Send Your E-mail List“.

Understanding How You’ll Make Money

Here’s the good part of the article. Show me the money!

In order to understand how you will make money online, you must ask, how will you serve people.

Your selling should be a direct reflection of your serving.

What value will you provide to your client? And what will you charge for it? Thinking through this process is an important part of understanding how realistic your idea is.

So, you may want to pause right here and decide –

  • What value will you add?
  • What will you sell?
  • What skill do you have that would make a significant difference in someone’s life?
  • What product can you offer that someone needs or wants?

This is a really simplistic way of explaining things, but in the end it all boils down to value exchanged, and that transaction is even better when it’s done with serving your audience.

How Will You Collect Money

There are numerous ways you can collect money, many of them you’re already familiar with, but I’ll just name a few.

  1. Stripe
  2. Venmo
  3. CashApp
  4. PayPal
  5. Square

While all of these aren’t fancy payment gateways that seamlessly link up to your website with a shopping cart, they are simple ways to get you started.

Of course there are other implications to selling, like bookkeeping and taxes, but that’s a talk for another time!

How to Start Right Away

Now, let’s be honest, I’ve given you a lot to start with. It’s enough to take a week or more. But you might be thinking, I want to get started right away. I need to start selling and making money.

Okay, okay. I get it.

To get started in the easiest way possible, here are the simple things you need to do:

  1. Understand how you’ll provide value.
  2. Have some proof that you’re able to provide this value, like
    1. Years worked in the industry in a salaried role
    2. Clients you’ve helped to succeed
    3. Personal success story
    4. Indication that the items you’re selling do what you say they do
  3. Create a free giveaway that relates to the value you’ll provide
  4. Make an offer to serve their needs in exchange for a price they’re willing to pay
  5. If you’re selling something, use the sales skills you’ve developed in real life and apply them to the digital space on social media, on a website or through networking
  6. If you’re providing a service, set-up a group to work with over the next 6 weeks to help them in their transformation.

Easy enough, right?

Where Do I Go from Here?

Honest question – did you read through the whole article to get down here or did you just skip to the end? It’s okay, you can tell me the truth!

Either way, if you need a summary of what I just shared, you can download a quick summary that gives a helpful overview as a reminder.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by any of the steps I listed above? Get in touch for a free 20-minute discovery call to help you get un-stuck and to learn about how working with me can help you have the impact you’ve always dreamed of.

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