Hey, boss! Today I’m tackling a question that I get asked almost every single day, “How did you start your business?” As you guys know, I’ve been running my business from my laptop for almost a decade now, and I’ve gotten pretty used to working on my own and running my own business. However, my business model has changed drastically in the last two years to allow a lot more freedom and a lot more structure in my business and in my life.
I know, because I’m in the space, there’s a lot of information and to be honest, a lot of crap out there about how to start an online business. So I wanted to make this to help you guys out and share my journey of how I got to this point in my business, in hopes that it can help you get started or maybe make some tweaks in your current business model.
Here are my five steps to starting an online business:
Step number one is sales. It seems pretty obvious, but in this online space, we can often get caught up in building a brand before we build a business. Without income and revenue, you don’t have a business, so the first thing that you need to focus on is your bottom line. How are you going to generate revenue through your online business? There’s really two ways of doing this. You’re either a service-based business, or you’re a product-based business. Pretty self-explanatory. Services are your expertise. You’re selling your knowledge, your experience, your expertise at a certain niche.
Products are physical products, like courses. I’m going to dive into this a little bit deeper in step five, but this is a really simple breakdown of what you can sell and how you can generate sales in your online business. At this point, for example, my business is a bit of a hybrid of both, but I started as a service-based business. I sold my knowledge as a consultant, and I had a social media agency. I also worked as a coach and taught people how to use different social platforms to build their businesses.
Now I’ve moved into the product side of things, and I sell educational courses, and we’ve just moved into merchandise with the Be Your Own Boss store, so a bit of a hybrid of both. I started in services, and I recommend when you’re starting an online business to really pay attention to what your genius zone is and where you’d like to focus your effort and how you’d like to actually make money because this is really the crux of the business. If you don’t enjoy selling physical products or keeping track of inventory and things like that, probably not the way to go. If you’d rather sell your knowledge, the service side of things is probably better for you.
How do you decide what to sell? Well, first and foremost, as I mentioned, focus on your genius. What is your expertise? What do people come to you for? What do people come to you for advice on or direction? That’s a really good clue as to where you probably want to start. Now, I don’t have as much experience on the product side of things, but what I would recommend, and what we did when we launched our Be Your Own Boss store, is look at other sites or other people that are doing something and selling products that are similar to yours and find out how they structure it. Are they doing print-on-demand? Do they have inventory? Those are the questions that you want to find out on the product side of things. Really, that’s as simple as it gets. Are you a service-based business or a product-based business?
Step two is customers. Okay, you’ve figured out what you want to sell. Now you need to find people to buy it. You need to figure out where your customers live and how they’re going to be attracted to your products or to your services. I have a list of things that you want to focus on when it comes to your ideal customer. They are psychographics, so getting into their mindset and what their interests are, gender, age, buying trends. Where are they currently purchasing, and who are they buying from? Their income and their biggest needs and frustrations currently that you can help solve or fix.
Time for some action. I want you to do a little bit of homework to figure out who your dream customer is. Based on everything that I just mentioned, I want you to study who your ideal customer is, your dream customer is, and make a list of what attributes you want them to have because the quicker that you identify who your dream customer is and know exactly who you want to serve with your products or services, the faster you’re going to attract them.
Step number three is your traffic machine. How are you going to actually attract these customers and make them aware of you? You have to have good content that basically turns into a traffic machine for you. Now, you can do this through a bunch of different ways, and I’m going to dive into the details of that in just a second. Content is really what it starts with. For me, my platform of choice is YouTube, and it’s bringing me in customers as I sleep. I’m going to explain exactly how that works. Whether you’re a vlogger or a blogger or you use other social platforms like Instagram or Twitter, those are considered your organic traffic machines that you should constantly be using to drive traffic to your conversion site, which is coming up in the next step.
First, let me show you exactly how I use YouTube as my traffic machine. What I do is I make content. I make videos around topics that I know my audience is searching for. My customers want to know about how to use video and social media to build their businesses and their brands. Here are a few of the topics that I’ve created videos around, how to make videos with your phone, Snapchat tutorials, how to make custom thumbnails on YouTube, how to get more views on YouTube. All of these are being found through search. I only have 75,000 subscribers, but I’m getting hundreds of thousands of views on my videos because they’re being found in search because I’m making topics that my ideal customer is looking for.
That’s how you create your traffic machine. You’ll see that when I look up “how to make a video with your phone” in YouTube, I’m the top result out of 62 million results. This is constantly driving traffic to my brand and to my website, gaining potential customers all day, every day because people are always looking for this topic. I’m also ranked as the number one result on Google as well. Imagine if your business was ranked number one on Google and on YouTube, and you were getting free traffic from targeted ideal customers all day, every day. This is why the traffic machine and creating good content that drives traffic that your customers want is so vital to having an online business that is successful and actually profitable.
Now step number four, as I mentioned, the conversion site. This is pretty vital because if you don’t have a conversion site, you have no way of turning your traffic and your potential customers into actual paying customers. You’ve probably heard a lot of people who talk about online business talk about growing your list and the importance of your list. Well, it is absolutely vital. What a list means is your email list because really, that’s your customer list. Now, you may be thinking, “But I’ve got a thousand followers on Instagram and 50,000 followers on YouTube, and that’s my customer base.” Here’s the problem with relying on social platforms, and believe me, I love them, as your customer base.
Facebook changes its algorithm all the time. Now on brand pages, only about 2% of your audience is actually seeing your content. You don’t want to have to rely on the algorithms of all these social platforms to serve your customer base. Having an email list gives you control over who sees your messaging and when you want them to see it, so you’re not reliant on anyone one else or any other algorithm because they change all the time, and it can be really, really frustrating and costly to your business. Number one piece of collateral you need in an online business is your email list, and start building it yesterday.
Step number five is selling. Now we’re kind of going to go back to step number one. We talked about how you want to earn sales, but how are you actually going to get those sales and sell to your audience? I want to keep this really simple because there are a million and one ways that this can be described, but
I’m going to try and break it down into five Cs of selling online:
The first C is coaching. You can coach clients based on your expertise. For example, I’ve coached plenty of different people in all different niches and industries on how to use social media and video marketing to build their business. Generally, this is done on a one-to-one basis.
You can also consult. I’ve consulted with big corporations on how to use social media and video marketing to better build their brands and their awareness.
You can create courses, which I’ve also done. Courses are basically paid programs with your knowledge in them and your expertise packaged so that people can study on their own time, and they don’t rely on working with you and using your time to learn your techniques and strategies.
Community is a membership site, which is kind of an ongoing community paid program where every single month you have new content for your community members that they pay for on a month-to-month basis.
Content is a bonus, and that’s when you’ve built some authority. Content, how you get paid for it, is basically through public speaking engagements, or guest expertise on webinars. There’s a bunch of different ways to get paid for your content, but that really only comes after you’ve tackled those first four Cs and built up your authority. For me, for example, at this point, I get paid to speak all over the world, but it’s taken me a little while to get to that point because I’ve had to build up my authority in my space. Since this video is all about how to start an online business, I want to break down how I started to get clients when I changed my business model.
The first thing that you want to do is get social proof. Prove that you’re the best at what you do. You may not like this, but it starts with working for free. Do work for free. Pitch your services to people. Do good work and then get really solid testimonials and build up your social proof that you’re the expert in your space. Another great way to attract clients is using your organic social media platforms to offer consultations. I used to offer free 15-minute to 30-minute consultations on social media or video marketing strategy just to get people on the phone with me, and then I could pitch my paid services. Since I didn’t have a lot of authority in the beginning, people needed to know and trust me before they were going to buy from me. Those are kind of my two basic recommendations to get started.
I have one final boss bonus tip for you, and it’s something that I wish that I had thought about a lot earlier in my business, so I want you to get started on this right away and at least start thinking about it. The final boss bonus tip is, is it scalable? Is your business scalable? Can it grow? Are you able to take yourself out of the day-to-day operations? Entrepreneurship does not mean that you are doing every single task in your business every single day. That’s more so you being a bit of a slave to your business. What you want to do is take yourself out of the equation and build systems and processes so that you can hire team members eventually when your revenue gets to a place where you feel comfortable building out that team and hiring extra help.
The more help you have, the more you can focus on what you’re really, really good at in your business. Let’s face it, we’re not great at everything. Give yourself the freedom and space to focus on what you’re good at by setting up systems and processes in your business as early as possible to make it scalable. A really, really great book that I read that changed my whole mentality on this and helped me get my systems and processes set up is called The E-Myth. I highly recommend it, so make sure you check it out.
Look, this entrepreneurship thing is not easy to do alone, and that’s why I created the Be Your Own Boss mastermind group on Facebook. Make sure you join. There are thousands of entrepreneurs in there, and we’re all supporting each other in building the businesses that we’ve always dreamed of and the lives that we’ve always wanted to live. While you’re at it, make sure you check out the Be Your Own Boss store. It’s brand new. We’ve got lots of fun boss swag in there for you guys. If you like this video, hit the like button below. Share it with your friends and be sure to subscribe.
If you are starting an online business, keep going. Don’t give up. Share in the comments what your business is all about so that we can help support you. Thank you guys for watching, and I’ll see you next time.
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