Running an online business seems simple. All of those guru-type people make it sound that way. But what happens when it isn’t?
On paper (or in pixels), it all looks pretty straightforward.
Start an online-based business around helping people reach a certain goal. Maybe it’s a fitness goal, or a parenting goal, or learning a new professional skill.
Online education is exploding, so we know that more and more people are looking online to learn a task or skill they care about.
Some people seem to start a small site, gather an interested audience, and then before you know it they’re making a living with a course, a coaching program, or even a simple ebook.
But when you try it … it’s not so simple.
(It wasn’t so simple for me, either. Not by a long shot.)
There are still some widespread myths about how people make — or don’t make — a living with an online business.
In particular, there are two ways of looking at online business that are equally unrealistic. They’re really two sides of the same delusional coin.
Myth #1: Online business has magic powers
Of course, we’ve all seen the hype-y pitches:
Make millions in your underwear by starting a business on the Internet!
Can you actually make millions in your underwear? Sure you can — if you put the time and effort in to build a sustainable business, and the right pieces (right market, right reach, right product) are all aligned.
Some days, to tell the truth, you’re making money in your underwear because it’s 2:00 p.m. and you haven’t had the chance to get showered or dressed yet. Just saying.
It will almost certainly take you years to get to “millions.” And you may not be able to get there at all if you don’t have that market-reach-product combination dialed in.
There’s only one “magical” thing about building a business online vs. building one in a physical location: You can reach a lot more people with a lot less investment.
You still need a smart business and revenue model. You still need to understand how marketing works. You still need to design a product or service that people want to spend money on. You still need to manage the day-to-day realities of business. You still need to be great at meeting deadlines.
So if doing business online has magic powers, it’s more Neville Longbottom than Harry Potter.
Then again, with enough time and dedication, Neville turned out to be a pretty badass guy …
Myth #2: No one can make money online
On the flip side of the “magic power” coin (often coming from people who have been burned by that message), you have the disillusioned naysayers who say that starting a business is like playing the lottery.
Er, no it isn’t.
Do most new businesses fail? (Online or offline.) Yes, they do.
Do most new business owners have the first idea what they’re getting into? No, they do not.
When they’re thinking about putting a business together, many people will just “try something” to see if it might work. And most of the time, it doesn’t.
That isn’t a bad thing at all. It can teach you a lot.
But if you keep trying random things without a reasonable framework of what’s worked for other business owners, you can spend a seriously long time trying to figure out all the pieces.
It’s okay to do that. Many successful people have. But it can be incredibly frustrating, and it can take a lot longer than it needs to.
And while you’re trying to figure everything out on your own, you can burn a lot of goodwill with your friends and family. Which is a drag.
OK, so what does work?
The nice part about being online today is, there are actually lots of people who have put the sustained experimentation and work into becoming “overnight successes.” So you have models and best practices to follow.
Our own Chris Garrett — who is Rainmaker Digital’s Chief Digital Officer today, but was a years-in-the-making overnight success in his own right — will be joining me on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 to teach a free webinar on The 3 Reasons People Fail When Creating Products. We’ll be talking about:
- The approach most online entrepreneurs take — that almost always leads to failure
- The best way to get out of analysis paralysis and start doing
- The most common causes (and best cures) for procrastination
- How the “kitchen table in your underwear” business model can hurt your success
- How to handle sales and marketing if you aren’t a “born salesperson”
- What to do when the technology is driving you nuts
Chris and I will be bringing to the table many years of combined experience in helping people through bumps, trouble spots, and flat-out business disasters — and seeing people through the cruddy stuff and on to great businesses.
Here’s How to Create and Sell Digital Information the Smarter Way:
If you’re interested in taking the next step with selling online courses, ebooks, and other digital products and services, you should check out Digital Commerce Institute.
You can get started instantly with training that shows you how to enter the $15 billion a year (and growing) online education space, plus thousands of dollars in other resources for building a digital business. Check it out here and get started building your dream business today.