Ever wondered what it takes to succeed with an online business? I mean, there are more than 181 million websites online. A new blog comes up every second. Literally. What does it take to build successful online business ideas anyway?
From the time you read the opening line until the end of this sentence, 17 new blogs would’ve been created. Yes, I timed it :)
Take a look at the info-graphic below to see the massive amount of content that’s created every minute and the vast amounts of information that flows through the Internet every minute. Staggering.
Info-graphic by- Shanghai Web Designers
Granted, a large number of those websites are pictures of animals with funny captions. We wouldn’t want to be the exception to the rule, now would we?
Besides funny pics and all things devoted to entertainment, there’s a substantial amount of serious business being conducted on the Internet.
Foundations of Successful Online Business Ideas
I often take note of successful online businesses and what makes them work. Contrary to popular belief, the quickest way to have a successful is not to reinvent the wheel, but to take an existing wheel design and adapt it to suit your needs.
The reason why we’re led to believe originality is the key to success is because those stories are usually the ones that make the 6 o’clock news.
Who wants to hear about yet another business making thousands of dollars every month if there’s no new angle or nothing noteworthy to report about it?
Mind you, I don’t want to discourage you from thinking outside the box. If you have a great idea that you think will absolutely rock the world, go for it! It’s just that it’s not essential to being successful.
Innovation is the key to greatness, but not a necessary ingredient for success.
As I look at all these online businesses and how they operate, I notice the great ones answer very specific questions right from the start. You “get” their concept as soon as you first visit their website.
At whatever stage in the business process you are, beginner or already established on the web, there are four questions that will focus your efforts on what you need to do to be successful.
I’ll break down each question on a separate post and give you strategies that teach you how to answer them effectively.
First up, is a big one:
What Do You Do?
Such a simple question, isn’t it? If you have a traditional job, the answer is easy.
“I’m an Engineer!” “I’m a Doctor!” “I’m an Administrative Secretary!” “I’m a Photographer!” “I’m a Circus Clown!”
Whatever your current job, given job title, or degree obtained, the answer is not that hard to come by.
When it comes to an online business, many people have a hard time defining it. Sure, you can use “entrepreneur”. But that’s just a catch-all term for someone who starts and manages a business.
The follow-up question, “Great! What business?”, will take you right back to square one.
You need to define what is it that you do, if you want to find out the direction you want to take your business in.
To be perfectly honest, and hoping my example helps you create a great business, I’ll admit I had the same dilemma with this site at one point.
Was it a travel site? Was it a business site? Was it a place to share expat tales? The direction changed almost weekly.
Based on whatever I was doing at the moment, I was a writer, a photographer, a website builder, etc. I’m still all of those things.
But until I sat down to answer the internal question that kept bugging me, “Well, Rich… What DO you do?“, that’s when things finally started clicking for me.
You need to narrow your answer to its core essence. Sum up, in one sentence, what you want to accomplish with your business platform.
Writing down what you want to achieve is a powerful technique, straight out of Goal Setting 101.
How I Came Up With My Answer
After sitting down and giving it much thought, here’s what I came up as an answer for this platform you’re visiting:
I teach others how to build effective online business platform that enable them to work from anywhere in the world.
I one sentence I’ve summed up what my role will be (Teacher), what I want my audience to achieve (build effective online business platforms), for what purpose (enable them to work from anywhere in the world).
Stating directly what I do and what I want to accomplish redirects my attention to the goals I have for this site.
Once you know what you WANT to do, it’s easier for you to steer away from what you DON’T want to do.
From this exercise, I determined I didn’t want to focus much about freelancing or similar business concepts. The concept of “total freedom” can be hard to reconcile at times with freelancing because of the time commitment involved.
I also decided not to focus on travel writing as a main subject here, since that is not the goal of this site. While I will continue to share travel stories here, they will be more geared towards lessons I’ve learned in my pursuit of location independence.
But enough about me.
Let’s focus on your ideas and your business.
How to Answer the Question Effectively
If you’re a writer, consultant, or however you choose to define yourself, establish these three things in one simple sentence:
a) Your role
b) The action you’re trying to inspire your audience to take
c) What your audience stands to gain from acting on your message and what you have to say
The template goes like this:
Roles are usually associated with verbs that denote action. For example, you can define your role as someone who seeks to teach, help, inspire, design, build, write, etc.
What action are you trying to inspire your audience to take? Whether it’s to travel the world, move to another country, bake their first apple pie… what is it you hope your audience takes away from visiting your site?
Once your audience is on board with what you’re offering, you’re halfway there. They think they might want to take action, but why?
This is why the third part of the statement is so important and where you give them the reason for following your lead.
What does your audience stand to gain from what you’re offering? Summing up the benefit, up front and in as short a sentence as possible, is the best way to hook your audience onto your message.
Next time, we’ll look at another overlooked question, which has derailed many well-intentioned people from success. Fail to answer it for your audience and you might as well give up now and try something else.
But don’t worry. I’ll teach you how to hone in on it and get you going in the right direction.
Are you struggling to answer the question “What Do You Do?”
How have you answered it for your site?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!