5 Tips for Starting an Online Business

There are many advantages to running your own business, but it’s important to maintain realistic expectations. Starting a business can be challenging, and it’s easy to focus on the potential benefits while failing to consider the problems that can prevent your online business from succeeding. 

Many industries took a hard hit during the pandemic and were forced to send workers home. As a result, some people decided to start side gigs online in the safety and comfort of their homes. For a lucky few, what started as a way to generate a bit of extra cash turned into a full-time career.

Starting an online business means you could soon have complete control over your time and eventually your income. You may be able to do something you enjoy while making a good living without having to endure the headaches that come with working for someone else. It’s not easy to start something new, but if you are comfortable with learning new things, technologically savvy, curious and willing to ask for help, you could be on the brink of an exciting and lucrative new adventure. 

What Is an Online Business?

An online business is any business where you exchange services for money online. Here are some examples:

  • SEO consultant
  • Social media manager
  • Web designer
  • Advertising consultant
  • Influencer
  • Course creator
  • Business coach
  • Photographer
  • Virtual assistant
  • Researcher
  • Tutor
  • Virtual trainer

You can turn nearly any business idea into an online business. A yoga instructor may go from teaching in-person classes to offering real-time interactive classes via Zoom. An artist may provide Facebook Live classes teaching various painting or sculpting techniques. 

There are numerous platforms dedicated to making the creation of an online business easy, even for people who don’t have a great deal of experience with technology. 

Here are five tips for starting a potentially lucrative online business.

  1. 1. Choose a Topic You Have Specialized Knowlege Of

If you can do something that people seem curious about, that’s a clue that you may be able to turn your knowledge or skill into an online business. People will typically pay to learn something from someone that they believe has an edge. 

Even if your skills aren’t in the top 10%, go for it. You don’t have to be an expert to have something of value to offer an audience of subscribers or customers. You just have to be able to teach people to do what you do. Remember, people pay for results. 

  1. 2. Make Your Business Scalable

When planning your online business, think about how it would look to reach your maximum potential. For example, if you decide to launch a business providing one-on-one Japanese tutoring and you are fully booked with 15 students at 3 hours per week per student, you are working 45 hours per week. If each student pays you $25 per hour, your maximum gross pay per week is $1,125. If you don’t take any time off and you remain fully booked for one year, you’ll make a maximum of $58,500. 

While tutoring Japanese full time and making a decent living from the comfort of your home may sound like a dream-come-true, you don’t have many options for scaling your business. 

A truly talented Japanese tutor may consider teaching other tutors how to become exceptional, as well. Creating a course to help Japanese tutors improve their teaching skills with actionable tips specific to the process of teaching students to speak and write Japanese could be scalable, since you have the potential to be able to create and record the course and sell it multiple times without any additional work. 

If you are considering one-on-one coaching or teaching, leave room for other revenue streams that don’t require you to be present in real-time to make money. 

  1. 3. Choose a Single Platform

When you are starting out, it’s important to choose a platform and stick to it until you have it mastered. 

Choosing a single platform allows you to build an audience over time. You can amass positive reviews and build loyalty. Putting a bit of content on multiple platforms doesn’t produce nearly the positive momentum that concentrating on a single platform can. 

  1. 4. Know Your Audience

Turning your online business into a successful career takes careful planning. While it may seem like some social media creators and influencers simply “go viral” by chance, it’s more likely that a great deal of research and planning went into the time that they spent building an audience. 

When you understand what your audience wants, you have the opportunity to create content that resonates and attracts new customers. 

Once you know who your ideal buyer is, you can market directly to their wants and needs. For example, if your audience is women between the ages of 45 and 60 living in the midwest, it may be smart to spend some of your marketing budget on targeted Facebook ads. However, if your target audience is women between the ages of 18 and 30, you may be better off using TikTok to connect with new customers. 

  1. 5. Use Online Resources

We live in a time when access to technology allows us to learn about nearly any subject. There’s no reason to learn how to build an online business the hard way. Search for successful entrepreneurs who are living your dream. Learn as much from them as you can and expand your knowledge base to increase your confidence. 

If you aren’t sure where to start, check out the podcast, StartUp featuring Alex Blumberg formerly of Planet Money. Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas, features an interview with an entrepreneur each day. Social Pros provides tips and examples of businesses who are successfully using social media to help promote their businesses. 

Starting an online business can be exciting and scary. Fortunately, you have many resources to help make your professional and financial dreams come true. 

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